PEN International is a partner on the Implementation Strategy of the 2013 UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.
Over the last decade, more than 500 journalists and media workers have been killed worldwide, with many more wounded or threatened while carrying out their professional responsibilities. In most cases these journalists were not reporting on armed conflict but on local stories, particularly related to corruption and other illegal activities such as organized crime and drugs. In light of these dramatic statistics, there has been a pressing need for the various UN agencies, NGOs such as PEN International, funds and programmes to develop a single, strategic and harmonized approach in order to have greater impact on combating the issue.
The UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity aims to create a free and safe environment for journalists and media workers, both in conflict and non-conflict situations, with a view to strengthening peace, democracy and development worldwide. Its measures include, among other undertakings, the establishment of a coordinated inter-agency mechanism to handle issues related to the safety of journalists as well as assisting countries to develop legislation and mechanisms favourable to freedom of expression and information, and supporting their efforts to implement existing international rules and principles.
Click here to read UNESCO’s report on World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development.
As an implementation partner on the UN Plan, PEN International is working to conduct awareness raising campaigns on a wide range of issues such as existing international instruments and conventions, the growing dangers posed by emerging threats to media professionals, including non-state actors, as well as various existing practical guides on the safety of journalists.
The Implementation Strategy 2013-2014 combines efforts among all actors to promote a free and safe environment for journalists in both conflict and non-conflict situations, with a view to enabling an informed citizenry that is capable of strengthening peace, democracy and development worldwide. The document includes a work-plan to put the UN Plan of Action in to effect and is designed to be implemented at global and regional level, and for adaptation at national level. In the initial phase of its roll-out, and in order to concentrate efforts, the Strategy is especially being adapted to a selection of countries including Iraq, Nepal, Pakistan and South Sudan, as well as Latin America.
The Strategy outlines more than 100 concrete actions to be put in place over the coming two years by different UN agencies working in conjunction with other entities, as part of joint efforts to secure the safety of journalists. Among the measures set out are:
- creating UN internal coordination mechanisms to harmonize the UN actions in this field;
- supporting governments to develop laws on safeguarding journalists and mechanisms favorable to freedom of expression and information;
- conducting awareness-raising activities so that citizens understand the importance of the right to freedom of expression and access to information;
- providing training for journalists on the issue of safety and online safety;
- promoting good working conditions for journalists developing their professional activities on both a full-time and freelance basis;
- establishing real time emergency response mechanisms; and
- enhancing special measures for women journalists in response to the increasing incidence of sexual harassment and rape.