IFJ World Congress reaffirms commitment to UN Convention on Safety of Journalists

Delegates at the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) World Congress today backed a motion to promote the IFJ campaign for a UN Convention on the Protection of Journalists and Media Professionals.

Credits: Frédéric Moreau de Bellaing

The campaign was launched in response to rising anger over continued impunity in the face increasing attacks on journalists and media professionals around the world. 95 were killed in 2018 and yet nine in ten cases remain unpunished.

The Convention aims to put an end to this situation by introducing binding norms establishing safeguards for media workers specifically, addressing loopholes in humanitarian law (for instance on the risk of miscategorising the act of reporting as an act of war) and taking into account the heightened risks associated with the journalistic profession.

You can find the draft Convention here.

The motion adopted today mandated the Administrative Committee to seek to “keep core minimum fundamentals” while negotiating the Convention, “such as the obligation to protect journalists against attack on their lives, arbitrary arrest, violence and intimidation campaigns, the obligation to protect against forced disappearances and kidnapping, the obligation to carry out effective investigations into alleged interferences and bring the perpetrators to justice, and in the context of armed conflict, the obligation to treat media workers as civilians as well as their facilities and to conduct military operations with due diligence.”

Starting in 2018, two meetings were held in New York and Geneva between IFJ representatives and United Nations member states to discuss and promote the Convention, which has now gained support from a large coalition, including the European Broadcast Union (EBU), the World Association of Newspapers (WAN-IFRA) and UNI, the global media workers federation.

The IFJ Congress also urged all its affiliates worldwide “to commit themselves and their members to this cause”.

A further motion was passed to strengthen IFJ communications on the murders of journalists.