The resolution on the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity was adopted on 20 November by the General Assembly’s Third Committee, which is responsible for social, cultural, and humanitarian issues.
The resolution’s central focus is on the “specific risks faced by women journalists in the exercise of their work,” including in the online sphere, and on the need to “effectively tackle gender-based discrimination, including violence, inequality and gender-based stereotypes.”
The arbitrary detention and mistreatment of journalists, and the challenges they face in the “digital age,” are also mentioned in the resolution, in accordance with RSF’s requests.
It urges member states “to do their utmost to prevent violence, threats and attacks against journalists and media” and “to bring perpetrators, including those who command, conspire to commit, aid and abet or cover up such crimes, to justice.”The resolution also calls on states to assume their responsibilities and to develop concrete mechanisms for protecting journalists.
“We hail this new UN General Assembly resolution, the fourth on the safety of journalists since 2012,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “It reflects a growing recognition of the need for action to reduce abuses against journalists and to combat impunity, begun in the UN Plan of Action in 2012, and it consolidates international law. We now hope for swift and concrete implementation of these principles.”
The resolution is due to be definitively adopted in mid-December and many states have already expressed their support.
The resolution also welcomes the recent decision to “mobilize a network of focal points throughout the United Nations system to propose specific steps to intensify efforts to enhance the safety of journalists and media workers” and urges the UN’s various branches to actively cooperate in this initiative.
The mobilization of this network of focal points was announced by UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres on 2 November.
RSF had called for the creation of such focal points within the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and the Department of Political Affairs (DPA), within UN agencies such as UNDP and UN Women, and within peacekeeping operations in the field, so that the response to violence against journalists could be quicker and more systematic.
In August, Guterres put Ana-Maria Menéndez, his senior adviser on policy, in charge of following cases involving the safety of journalists. The creation of this direct and permanent communication channel makes it possible to refer urgent cases to the secretary-general’s office and seek his intervention. It already facilitated promotion of the decision to appoint focal points within UN agencies and departments.