Background

The Committee noted that UNESCO had requested it to consider, for possible endorsement by CEB, a UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. The Plan of Action, drafted during an inter-agency meeting convened by the UNESCO Director-General on 13 and 14 September 2011, included measures such as the establishment of a coordinated inter-agency mechanism to deal with issues pertaining to the safety of journalists and impunity.

Mr. Guy Berger, Director for Freedom of Expression and Media Development of UNESCO, briefed the Committee on the elements of the Plan of Action. He cited the staggering number of journalists and media workers killed or injured while performing their professional duties. He emphasized the gravity of the problem and the importance of guaranteeing journalists a free and safe environment, in which they could fully exercise their right to freedom of expression, thereby safeguarding the wider population’s right to accurate information. Mr. Berger also informed the Committee that the initiative included measures, such as the establishment of a coordinated inter-agency mechanism, to deal with issues pertaining to the safety of journalists and impunity that would involve the monitoring of progress at both national and international levels. Safety and impunity were also to be incorporated into UN contributions to national strategies, notably development assistance programmes and the possible inclusion of media-stakeholders in some of the preparatory processes of development assistance frameworks. Mr. Berger added that the Plan also foresaw the extension of work already conducted by UNESCO to prevent crimes against media workers. This included assisting countries to develop legislation and mechanisms favourable to freedom of expression and information, and supporting their efforts to implement existing international rules and principles, in particular the 1997 UNESCO General Conference Resolution regarding violence against journalists. In addition to its submission to CEB for endorsement, UNESCO intended to present the Plan of Action to the March 2012 session of its International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC).

Discussion

Participants expressed support for the plan of action and requested UNESCO, through its inter-agency-led process, to elaborate a mechanism and work plan that the Committee could take forward.

Action

The Committee agreed to support the Plan of Action and forward it to CEB for its consideration and subsequent endorsement (Annex VIII).