News

August 18, 2021

RSF seeks UN Security Council meeting on plight of journalists in Afghanistan

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres and others gather for a UN security council meeting on Afghanistan on August 16, 2021 at the United Nations in New York. © TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) requests an “Arria formula” meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the situation of journalists and media in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover in Kabul, and to draw up an emergency plan for Afghan journalism.

RSF calls on the Security Council to hold such a meeting with the utmost urgency in order to address the unprecedented crisis resulting from the fall of Kabul, and the situation of journalists on particular.


The Security Council, which adopted Resolution 1738 on the protection of journalists in 2006 and Resolution 2222 on the protection of journalists in 2015, can now play a decisive role in ensuring the protection of journalists and media in Afghanistan. Only a concerted response by governments can address the terrible challenge facing Afghan journalists and media workers today.


In view of the rules governing standard Security Council meetings and the urgency of the situation, RSF thinks that an “Arria formula” meeting of the Council would be appropriate. This is an informal meeting that does not comply with the Council’s normal requirements. It would open the discussion to government representatives, actors and experts and would allow governments attending the meeting to receive first-hand information from actors who are directly concerned, such as RSF. Leading Afghan journalists could also be invited to address the Council, and would have a chance to appeal for the survival of Afghan journalism.


Bringing together governments, civil society organisations, media executives and Afghan journalists, this meeting could lay the foundation of an “Emergency Plan for Afghan Journalism” that would include: 

  • Guarantees for the safety and protection of Afghan journalists and media wherever they may be;
  • Help for journalists who want to leave Afghanistan, in particular, simplified procedures for obtaining visas and payment of travel costs;
  • The creation of a fund to cover the immediate needs of Afghan journalists and media wherever they may be;
  • Coordination and consultation with regard to the sustainability of Afghan media outlets and their possible transfer abroad, including to neighbouring countries; 
  • Assistance for Afghan organisations such as the Centre for the Protection of Afghan Women Journalists (CPAWJ) and the Afghan Journalists Safety Committee (AJSC).


This plan could be the subject of a Security Council Resolution that includes a request to all member states to support Afghan journalism, both in Afghanistan and abroad.


Around 100 media outlets have stopped operating in recent weeks, while hundreds of journalists have gone into hiding or are trying to flee the country. The media outlets still operating are doing so in accordance with the conditions set by the country’s new masters.


The Taliban have given undertakings to RSF and during yesterday’s press conference to respect press freedom but these undertaking can only be regarded with the utmost scepticism.


Afghanistan was ranked 122nd out of 180 countries in the World Press Freedom Index that RSF published last April.