The Presidents of the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the UN General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council have issued their first joint statement on Safety of Journalism calling on various stakeholders to join forces in furthering the objectives of the UN Plan of Action and thereby build a safer and more enabling environment for journalists and media workers, as well as to protect the right of every citizen to reliable, and, often, lifesaving information.
They issued the joint press statement to mark the 2022 World Press Freedom Day and the 10th anniversary of the UN Plan of Action on the safety of journalists.
The joint statement recalls the paramount importance of ensuring journalists and media workers can work freely, independently and safely, without hindrances, threats, or violent reprisals.
The statement said: “As we mark the 10th anniversary of the UN Plan of Action this year, we welcome the considerable progress made over the past decade in the implementation of the Plan. We applaud those governments which have made the safety of journalists a priority, within their borders and beyond, and highlight the significant contribution of civil society organizations that are committed to advancing media freedom and safety.”
The joint statement takes cognizance of how vital the information the media provide is for democracy, the promotion and protection of human rights, fighting corruption, sustainable development and preserving international peace and security.
The statement recalls that multiple resolutions, declarations, and commitments on the safety of journalists have been adopted by their respective bodies, including the 2021 UN General Assembly resolution on the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity (A/RES/76/173), the 2020 Human Rights Council resolution on the safety of journalists (A/HRC/RES/45/18), and the 2021 Windhoek+30 Declaration on information as a public good (UNESCO General Conference Resolution 41C.41). It adds that the wider UN system has also developed a multistakeholder coordination framework known as the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, adopted by the UN principals in 2012.
It welcomed the considerable progress made over the past decade in the implementation of the Plan and applauded those governments which have made the safety of journalists a priority, within their borders and beyond, and highlight the significant contribution of civil society organizations that are committed to advancing media freedom and safety.
The statement however points out that still too many challenges prevail, including high levels of impunity for crimes against journalists, a rise in the number of journalists detained and an increased legal harassment against them, online violence, the use of surveillance tools to hinder the journalist’s work, increased attacks on women journalists, and the rise of killings in non-conflict environments.
They reminded stakeholders that: “As we embark on the last decade to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda, it is important to remember the contribution of freedom of expression, press freedom and access to information to all other rights, such as quality education, the eradication of poverty, and access to justice and healthcare.”