"For freedom of expression advocates, it is important to know what international mechanisms are available, what they do, and how they can be used to turn the commitments in HRC Resolution 33/2 into action."
From ARTICLE 19, this guide to United Nations (UN) standards on the safety of journalists explores the commitments States have made to prevent, protect against, and prosecute attacks in UN Human Rights Council (HRC) resolution 33/2. Though HRC resolution 33/2 commits States to address a range of threats to the safety of journalists, these commitments only stand a chance of being implemented if the national and local actors working to enhance journalists' safety know about and use these standards to effect concrete change on the ground. Thus, in an effort to foster engagement on the resolution, the guide identifies the diverse threats journalists face, including gender-based threats, details the concrete actions States must take to ensure the safety of journalists, and sets out how UN human rights mechanisms should be used by civil society to hold States to account against these commitments.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has recorded the killings of 827 journalists between 2007 and the end of 2015, with 35 killed in 2017 to date, and 101 killed in 2016. For each journalist killed, attacked, threatened, or detained, countless others are intimidated to self-censor, and entire societies are deprived of important information. Impunity for crimes against journalists drives a cycle of violence: A failure of justice and lack of accountability encourages further murders and attacks. The impunity rate for murders of journalists in recent years remains at 90%.
The ARTICLE 19 guide was formally launched at the inaugural meeting of the Geneva, Switzerland "Group of Friends" on the safety of journalists. This inter-governmental group, formed almost one year to the day since the HRC adopted resolution 33/2, complements parallel groups at UNESCO and at the UN, and aims to enhance coordination to ensure the safety of journalists, bringing Geneva human rights mechanisms to the centre of these efforts. Launching the guide to the Group of Friends, ARTICLE 19 emphasised the positive role States at the UN in Geneva can play in elevating the role of UN human rights mechanisms as an integral part of the UN's broader response to this issue. In addition, ARTICLE 19 is advocating across the UN for implementation of commitments on the safety of journalists. To that end, at the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in autumn 2017, ARTICLE 19 is using this new guide to advocate for States to adopt a new resolution in parallel to HRC resolution 33/2, demonstrating that all UN member states support the progressive standards it sets out, and get fully behind efforts to implement it.
ARTICLE 19 website, October 10 2017.