UN: IFJ leads call for action to fight impunity

The campaign for a new binding international instrument dedicated to the safety of journalists has been formally launched at the 51st session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. The call for a new UN Convention to enhance the safety, protection and independence of media workers has been backed by journalists and media unions, associations, media representative bodies and NGOs across the world.

Launching of the campaign for a UN Convention on the Safety and Independence of Journalists and Other Media Professionals at the 51st session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. Credit: Dina Abu Saab.

Now a working group - the Friends of the Convention - has been set up to enable member states to work towards its adoption.

The group was launched at a side event in Geneva on 30 September addressed by the IFJ President Dominique Pradalié, Nasser Abu Bakker, President of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, Zuliana Lainez Otero, vice-President of the journalists’ federation of Latin America and the Caribbean and international human rights expert Dr Carmen Draghici, the author of the draft Convention.

Representatives of members states, including Greece, Italy, Palestine, Austria, Yemen, France, the EU, Latvia, Lebanon, The Netherlands among others, attended the launch of the Convention, as well as international media and journalists’ associations. Messages of support have been received from a number of member states.

The International Convention on the Safety and Independence of Journalists and Other Media Professionals was developed in response to the failure of existing international responses to tackle impunity and growing threats to journalists and media around the world.

It highlights existing weaknesses and loopholes in international humanitarian and human rights law and the lack of effective enforcement mechanisms.

It builds on a recognition of the specific role and threats faced by journalists and the limitations of existing generally applicable rules. A new binding international instrument dedicated to the safety of journalists, including a specific enforcement mechanism would help improve the effectiveness of the international response.

Dr Carmen Dragichi, who drafted the Convention said: "The Draft Convention offers a consolidated legal framework for the protection of journalists. It codifies case-law obligations in treaty form, replacing multiple legal sources with one comprehensive, accessible instrument. It thus clarifies the scope of obligations under free speech provisions in human rights conventions, drawing on international case-law. It also ensures States explicitly subscribe obligations crystallised in decisions against other States, and assists national authorities in understanding their obligations, and it facilitates international oversight. [...] It also confers binding value to widely accepted but unenforceable soft law standards, increasing compliance and accountability".

IFJ President Dominique Pradalié said: "Hundreds of journalists have been killed in the past decade, thousands have been jailed. Every day journalists are threatened and attacked. Such crimes are carried out with near total impunity around the world. All those who believe in media freedom, in citizens’ rights to information must act now to stop impunity. On behalf of journalists’ unions and associations and media professionals and their organisations across the world we call on member states to join with us in support of a Convention that can give the international community the tools necessary to enhance the safety of journalists".

To add your organisation's name to those supporting the campaign for an international convention on the safety of journalists click here.

Down load the draft Convention in English, FrenchSpanish and Arabic.

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 16

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 146 countries

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