The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) at its 68th Session held on December 18, 2013, adopted a landmark Resolution on Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity in which it also proclaimed November 2 as the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.
The Resolution, co-sponsored by Greece, Argentina, Austria, Costa Rica, France, Nigeria and 72 other countries, calls upon States to promote a safe and enabling environment for journalists to perform their work independently and without undue interference.
It “condemns unequivocally all attacks and violence against journalists and media workers, such as torture, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and arbitrary detention, as well as intimidation and harassment in both conflict and non-conflict situations”. It is the first time the UNGA has adopted a resolution directly addressing the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity.
The Resolution, passed by consensus, proclaims November 2 as the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists. The date coincides with the day when French journalists Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon were killed by militants in Mali in 2013. It also falls within the three week period each year (November 1 to 23) that freedom of expression and media non-governmental organizations worldwide have been campaigning against impunity.
The Resolution calls on the UN Secretary General to report at its next session in 2014 on the progress being made by the UN system in regard to implementing the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.
It also invites the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to be the overall coordinator of the implementation of UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, operating with focal points from Member States as well as relevant UN agencies, organizations, funds and programmes to exchange relevant information.
Civil society organizations around the world, including Media Rights Agenda (MRA), have welcomed the adoption of the resolution.
The global network of freedom of expression organizations, the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), which has been leading an international campaign annually against impunity particularly welcomed the proclamation of 2 November as the International Day to End Impunity.
States are to promote a safe and enabling environment for journalists to perform their work, including by means of legislative measures; awareness-raising in the judiciary and among law enforcement officers and military personnel, as well as among journalists and in civil society, regarding international human rights and humanitarian law obligations and commitments relating to the safety of journalists; the monitoring and reporting of attacks against journalists; publicly condemning attacks; and dedicating the resources necessary to investigate and prosecute such attacks.
Click here for the full text of the UN General Assembly’s Resolution on Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.