The new resolution 70/162 adds stronger language to build upon earlier texts, especially regarding the safety of journalists covering demonstrations and terrorism. The General Assembly “calls upon States to ensure that measures to combat terrorism and preserve national security are in compliance with their obligations under international law and do not arbitrarily hinder the work and safety of journalists.” This last statement is particularly timely given today’s dangerous climate for journalists.
The third committee of the United Nations General Assembly first adopted the resolution on November 17, 2015 and the General Assembly officially adopted it last Thursday. The text reaffirms existing texts and resolutions on this important topic (68/163 of December 2013 and 69/185 of December 2014) which condemned violent attacks against journalists both during conflict and in times of peace.
As the situation worsens for journalists, more concrete action is needed. That is why RSF welcomes the new language in this General Assembly resolution as part of its efforts to push for the appointment of a Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on the Safety of Journalists.
The Special Representative would have the main task of monitoring compliance by United Nations member states with their obligations under international law. Furthermore, giving the Special Representative a central and permanent position under the UN Secretary General aegis could significantly empower the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity and all UN efforts lead by UNESCO, the Human Rights Council, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, as well as reinforce the regional actions of the Council of Europe or the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (Organization of American States).
RSF just published its 2015 annual round-up of journalists held hostage, imprisoned, or reported missing. The report showed that 54 professional journalists are currently being held hostage, which represents a 35% increase from 2014. On December 29 RSF will publish its round up of journalists killed in 2015.
RSF invites all press freedom and media organizations to join our call to appoint a Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on the Safety of Journalists.