Vienna Conference on Journalist Safety 2022

PeopleOther ♦ Published: November 6, 2022; 22:51 ♦ (Vindobona)

On the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the United Nations Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists, the Austrian Foreign Ministry, together with the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, hosted the Vienna Conference on the Safety of Journalists. The conference, entitled "Safety of Journalists: Protecting media to protect democracy" was attended by more than 400 representatives of governments, international organizations, media and civil society.

The Safety of Journalists conference was held at Palais Niederösterreich in Vienna. / Picture: © BMEIA Bundesministerium für Europa, Integration und Äußeres / Gruber / Flickr Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

In partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs (BMEIA) organized a high-level conference to mark the 10th anniversary of the United Nations Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists, as reported.

The goals of the conference, in which foreign ministers will discuss the issue together with key stakeholders from international organizations, civil society and other experts, are to improve the implementation of the UN Plan of Action: Prevention, Protection and Prosecution of Journalists.

Another important goal is to raise awareness among the general public and the international community about the strategic importance of the safety of media professionals for the functioning of a democracy, respect for the rule of law and the exercise of human rights. To this end, the political will and resources for the safety of journalists should be increased at the conference and translated into concrete commitments.

Increased violence against media professionals requires a renewed commitment to protecting and defending media freedom, he said. He said the conference serves to give new impetus to the important steps that began in 2012 with the UN Action Plan on the Safety of Journalists.

Despite international efforts, impunity for crimes against journalists is widespread, with nine out of ten murders of journalists going unpunished. To improve the situation of media representatives, participating states, international organizations and civil society representatives made numerous pledges during a "pledging session" to concretely strengthen media freedom and the protection of journalists.

The Austrian pledges were presented by Media Minister Raab, representing Foreign Minister Schallenberg, and included an investment of 150,000 euros in women-led media initiatives on women's rights in Afghanistan. In addition, Austria supports the Hostile Environment Awareness Training (HEAT) for journalists in crisis and conflict situations, which aims to prepare female journalists in particular for work under particularly dangerous conditions. To strengthen democracy, Austrian development cooperation is also increasing its contribution to promoting media development.

In addition, Austria has initiated a Political Declaration within the framework of the Vienna Conference, to which more than 50 states have already subscribed. In this context, the states commit themselves to counteract the increasing threats to the security of journalists, media freedom and media pluralism in the digital age. In addition, new forms of threat in the fields of law and economics are to be tackled, and greater attention is to be paid to the particular risks to which women in journalism are exposed in the course of their work.

High-ranking guests at the Vienna conference

Media Minister Susanne Raab, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk opened the high-level conference.

Other important guests were represented, and more than 400 representatives from governments, international organizations, the media and civil society took part. Among them were Ghada Fathi Waly, Director-General of UNOV, Melissa Fleming, Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications, United Nations, Dmitry Muratov, Editor-in-Chief, of Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta and many others. A list of speakers can be found here!

"This conference has provided the momentum needed to move into the second decade of the UN Action Plan. Compared to 2012, we are at a promising point: structures and global coalitions are in place to connect stakeholders. However, we also know that the challenges have not diminished. That is why continued work on the implementation of the UN Action Plan is essential," concluded Secretary-General Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal in his closing remarks at the conference.

Finally, all participants explicitly committed themselves to close cooperation to raise awareness and improve the implementation of the UN Action Plan, which contains concrete measures on the safety of journalists and the problem of impunity.



Federal Chancellery of Austria