UN Adopts Resolution on Protection of Journalists in Conflicts

The United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution last week on the protection of media professionals in conflict zones. The measure urges governments and armed groups alike to take appropriate steps to ensure accountability for crimes committed against journalists, and calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all reporters who are currently being held hostage in conflict situations.

“We know that armed conflict not only endangers the life and safety of journalists,” said Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, the first of 70 speakers during the daylong meeting. “It also limits the free flow of information, eroding rule of law and democracy. We should recall that conflict can easily be exacerbated in an environment that stifles freedom of expression.”

“It is our shared responsibility to protect the voices that alert, warn and inform on situations threatening international peace and security,” he added, pointing to the troubling rise in the number of journalists killed since 2006.

The resolution comes as the number of kidnappings and deaths of media professionals continues to climb worldwide — Reporters Without Borders says 66 journalists were killed last year and 30 more have died since January — and at the most dangerous times for journalists to date, according to a recent report released by the International News Safety Institute.

The report reveals that the frontlines in places like Syria and Iraq have become unclear, making it increasingly difficult for journalists to know who they can trust and where they can go safely. More than ever, media consumers expect to be instantly and accurately informed about even the remotest corners of our world – pushing journalists into ever more dangerous places. And if they go missing or get hurt, news executives are unsure of who to turn to for information and help in today’s chaotic conflicts.

In response to this dangerous climate, the Dart Center has joined a coalition of 60+ major news companies and journalism organizations endorsing worldwide freelance protection standards. If you are interested in being a signatory on these guidelines, contact David Rohde.

Click here to read the full report, Under Threat: The Changing State of Media Safety. And click here to read the Committee to Protect Journalists annual report, Attacks on the Press.