RSF calls for the UN to appoint a Special Representative for the Safety of Journalists

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is launching a call to the UN to take concrete action by creating the position of a Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General for the Safety of Journalists, as November 2, 2015 will mark the ‘International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists’ (IDEI).

The press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the United Nations to create as soon as possible the position of Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General for the Safety of Journalists. Despite various resolutions adopted on this topic in the past decade, including by the Security Council and the General Assembly, the statistics of journalists killed in the course of their work remain very troubling. During the last ten years, more than 700 reporters have been killed in the line of duty.

On May 27th, the day Resolution 2222 was adopted by the UN Security Council, RSF’s Secretary General Christophe Deloire addressed the ambassadors of the Security Council hailing this historic resolution but also calling for concrete action.

These legal advances have not been translated into action if we are to judge by the number of journalists killed each year, Christophe Deloire declared. The issue regarding safety of journalists is not an absence of applicable law but rather a lack of means of ensuring compliance. Only a Special Representative working closely with the UN Secretary General will have the political weight, the capacity to act quickly, and the legitimacy to coordinate with all UN bodies to implement change”.

A Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for the Protection of Journalists would have the main task of monitoring compliance by United Nations member states with their obligations under international law. The Special Representative’s mandate could for example be modeled on the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflicts.

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). Despite the progress that has already been made, more needs to be done.

I am deeply concerned about the failure to reduce the frequency and the scale of targeted violence that journalists face and the near absolute impunity for such crimes”, said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in his report on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity issued on August 6 2015. Unfortunately, RSF can only agree with Ban Ki-moon’s harsh statement. The 2015 World Press Freedom Index highlights a deterioration in freedom of information across the globe. Two-thirds of the 180 countries surveyed performed worse than in the previous year. The decline affected all continents.

2014 has been marked by an extreme level of violence towards journalists all around the world, including carefully staged threats and beheadings. 71 journalists were killed in 2014, especially in Syria, Palestine, Ukraine, Iraq and Libya. 119 journalists were kidnapped in 2014, a 30% increase from 2013’s figures, especially local journalists in Ukraine, Libya, Syria, Iraq and Mexico. Since the start of 2015, 48 journalists have been killed across the globe (8 in France, 6 in South Sudan, 5 in Yemen, 5 in Iraq, 5 in Syria, 3 in Mexico, 3 in Brazil,…)

RSF invites all press freedom and media organizations to join our call.

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Updated on 21.02.2018