HORNA/ Vienna,Nov 2022 | The safety of journalists is an essential condition for the realisation of the universal, inalienable right to freedom of expression and of the media, as stipulated in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Human rights and democracy are only guaranteed if journalists can carry out their work freely and without fear for their safety. However, they risk their lives every day, especially in conflict situations. They are increasingly exposed to political persecution, online violence, intimidation and surveillance.
This year, by 1 September, 61 journalists from 26 countries have already lost their lives because of their job, 10 of them while working to cover the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. Between 2006 and 2021, more than 1,200 journalists were killed, with those responsible going unpunished in almost 9 out of 10 cases.
The 2012 UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists contains concrete measures to strengthen the safety of journalists and combat impunity.
To mark its tenth anniversary, the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs is organising a high-level conference entitled “Safety of Journalists: Protecting media to protect democracy”. The conference of Vienna is a hybrid format, in cooperation with the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Foreign ministers, key stakeholders from international organisations, civil society and academia, is to:
Enhance the implementation of the UN Plan of Action, prevent attacks, protect journalists at risk and hold accountable those responsible for attacks on journalists.
Increase the political commitment and resources towards improving the safety of journalists and express this commitment in concrete pledges.
In preparation for the conference, UNESCO is organising regional and thematic consultations in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America and the Arab Region. Building upon the findings of these consultations, selected representatives of the stakeholders would develop concrete recommendations .