UN Holds Third Inter-Agency Meeting on Safety of Journalists


The United Nations (UN) will hold the third UN Inter-Agency meeting on the Safety of Journalists and Issue of Impunity on November 4, 2014 at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France.

The meeting is being convened by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and co-hosted by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights as well as the Council of Europe. The meeting will coincide with the inaugural International Day to End Impunity of Crimes against Journalists on  November 2.

The Inter-Agency meeting will review the implementation of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.  The review will include taking cognizance of the plans, successes, challenges, lessons learnt and way forward since the plan came into action in 2013.

Some speakers expected at the meeting include Getachew Engida, UNESCO’s Deputy Director-General for Communication and Information; Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein, High Commissioner, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR); Jan Kleijssen, Director, Information Society and Action against Crime Directorate, Directorate General Human Rights and Rule of Law, Council of Europe; Maher Nasser, Under-Secretary-General, United Nations Department of Public Information (UNDPI); Jean-Luc Lemahieu, Deputy Executive Director, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC); and Patrick Keuleers, Director,. Democratic Governance Group, Bureau for Development Policy, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The meeting will be broadly divided into 3 sessions which are:

  1. UN coordination mechanisms are strengthened and harmonised and current and new actions are put in place to increase the impact of work on the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity
  2. Member States and Intergovernmental organizations are reinforced and their work is harmonised with the UN Plan implementation and increased awareness of the importance of safety of journalists and combating impunity including devising national level strategies.
  3. Working with Civil Society and Media: professional associations, media, academia and NGOs are reinforced and their work is harmonised with the UN Plan implementation and increased awareness of the importance of safety of journalists and combating impunity.

The UN Plan of Action was spearheaded by UNESCO and subsequently adopted by the UN Chief Executives Board on  April 12, 2012. This is the first effort to methodically bring the different UN agencies together with relevant stakeholders to address the deteriorating situation of the safety of journalists, media workers, and social media producers, and of the culture of impunity surrounding the crimes against them.

The UN Plan of Action has been highlighted in various international instruments and guidelines including the UN General Assembly Resolution (A/RES/68/163), the Human Rights Council Resolution (A/RES/HRC/21/12), and the EU Human Rights Guidelines on Freedom of Expression Online and Offline as an important tool in addressing the safety of journalists and combating impunity.

The first UN-Inter-Agency Meeting took place in September 2011 at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris where the plan was first drafted. A second UN Inter-Agency meeting took place in Vienna in November 2012 where a comprehensive Implementation Strategy was adopted.

The strategy included over 120 concrete actions that could be taken on the protection of journalists and its related issues. The Implementation Strategy will serve as the basis for the review process.

On November 3, 2014, UNESCO will hold a ‘Seminar and Inter-Regional Dialogue on the Protection of Journalists’. The Council of Europe, Centre for Freedom of the Media and the European Lawyer’s Union will co-host the seminar.  Representatives from civil society and intergovernmental organisations will examine the current legal standards of protection for journalists and discuss the course of action to improve the international framework for their safety and to eradicate impunity.