Protection of journalists [fr]
"No democracy is complete without access to transparent and reliable information. A free press is the cornerstone for building fair and impartial institutions, holding leaders accountable and speaking truth to power. "António Guterres, UN Secretary-General
Journalists, media professionals and associated personnel play a key role in informing the population and the international community. Freedom of the press is a fundamental freedom, at the heart of both the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1789 and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948.
The crucial role of journalists and the need for them to carry out their work in complete safety lies at the heart of our democratic societies. Their safety is an essential condition for the exercise of freedom of expression for all - the right to seek, receive, and share information. Without freedom of the press, there can be no control of political power, no transparency, no fight against corruption, no fight against impunity, and no good governance.
The United Nations has included the safety of journalists in its Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16 on promoting peaceful and inclusive societies. Target 10 of SDG 16 thus recognizes the role of freedom of expression and access to information as prerequisites and catalysts for sustainable development and human rights.
In a context of increasing crises, however, journalists are increasingly targeted. Around the world, journalists and media workers are victims of intimidation, political and economic pressure, harassment, kidnapping, physical violence, arbitrary arrest and even murder.
With more than 1,000 journalists killed worldwide over the last 12 years (2007 to 2018) and only one case in ten solved by the judiciary, the level of impunity for crimes against journalists remains appallingly high. This high level of impunity creates a climate of fear among media professionals, but also has a negative impact on society as a whole. A silenced journalist stifles the voices of the people and limits their right to be informed.
Journalists and media personnel must be able to carry out their work without fear of being killed, arrested or intimidated. And crimes against journalists must not go unpunished.
Since its proclamation in December 1993 by the UN General Assembly, World Press Freedom Day has been celebrated on 3 May. This day provides an opportunity to:
* celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom
* assess the state of press freedom throughout the world
* defend the media from attacks on their independence
* pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty
UNESCO has also put in place a UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity aimed at developing a coordinated strategy within the UN system to address the insecurity of media professionals.
France is committed to promoting press freedom, protecting journalists and combating impunity for crimes against journalists.
At France’s initiative, the UN General Assembly adopted for the first time on 26 November 2013 a resolution on the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity. This resolution proclaims 2 November as the "November as the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists". The date was chosen as a tribute to Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, RFI journalists murdered in Mali on 2 November 2013.
The text calls on member states to do everything possible to prevent violence against journalists and media professionals, to investigate all accusations of violence swiftly and to bring those responsible to justice.
As a co-sponsor, France is contributing to the adoption at the General Assembly of this now biennial resolution. (Most recent resolution A/RES/74/157 adopted on 18 December 2019).
At a time when the press is increasingly faced with the challenge of disinformation, particularly online, which calls into question the fact-finding and fact-checking work of journalists, France launched in 2018 with 11 partners (Burkina Faso, Canada, Costa Rica, Denmark, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Norway, Senegal, Switzerland, Tunisia), the "Information and Democracy Partnership" initiative aimed at promoting an environment conducive to providing citizens with reliable information to enable them to form an informed opinion.
France is also behind the creation in 2016 in New York of the Group of Friends of the United Nations for the Protection of Journalists, which now has 21 member states. France co-chairs the group with Greece and Lithuania. The Group of Friends recently issued for the first time a joint statement with the other 3 Groups of Friends for the Protection of Journalists (in Paris, Geneva and Vienna) on the safety of journalists and access to information during the COVID-19 crisis, endorsed by 41 states. The statement was sent to the UN Secretary-General.
At France and Greece initiative of, the Security Council unanimously adopted, on 23 December 2006, resolution 1738 (2006) on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, aimed at preventing acts of violence against journalists.
As the first Security Council resolution on the protection of journalists in armed conflict, resolution 1738 reaffirms the basic principles for the protection of civilians contained in its resolutions 1265 (1999), 1296 (2000) and 1674 (2006) and recalls that this protection includes journalists, media professionals and associated personnel.
On 27 May 2015, the Security Council adopted resolution 2222 (2015), which calls for the strengthening of the protection of journalists, who are increasingly victims of deadly attacks in conflict zones.