Vienna Conference on Journalist Safety in November

More+Events ♦ Published: September 29, 2022; 22:41 ♦ (Vindobona)

The Vienna Conference on Journalist Safety will be held on November 3 and 4. The event will be held under the title "Safety of Journalists: Protecting media to protect democracy", in cooperation between the Austrian Foreign Ministry, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights at Palais Niederösterreich and online.

The Vienna Conference on Journalist Safety will be held on November 3 and 4 at Palais Niederösterreich. / Picture: © Wikimedia Commons / MrPanyGoff [CC BY-SA 3.0]

The 2012 United Nations (UN) Action Plan on the Safety of Journalists contains concrete measures to strengthen their safety and combat impunity. To mark the tenth anniversary of the Action Plan, the Austrian Foreign Ministry will host a high-level conference in Vienna on November 4, 2022.

As part of a hybrid format, the event will be titled "Safety of Journalists: Protecting media to protect democracy", in cooperation with UNESCO and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. International organizations, civil society and other experts will join foreign ministers at Palais Niederösterreich to set the following goals. The goal of improving the implementation of the UN Plan of Action, prevent attacks, protect journalists at risk, and hold accountable those responsible for attacks on journalists. The goal of increasing the political will and resources of the various stakeholders for the safety of journalists, and to lock them into concrete commitments.

The registration platform (in English) is open now. Please register by October 20, 2022, at 24:00 CET.

Preparatory process and pre-conference on November 3, 2022

In preparation for the conference, UNESCO is organizing regional and thematic stakeholder consultations in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Arab world. Building on these findings, selected stakeholder representatives, in particular from civil society, academia and journalism, will develop concrete recommendations on how to improve the implementation of the UN Plan of Action in the future in a pre-conference on November 3, 2022. This pre-conference will be organized with the Civil Society Coalition on the Safety of Journalists.

According to the Austrian Foreign Ministry, these recommendations will be discussed in working groups on the following five key areas: i) combating impunity, ii) safety of women journalists and gender-based violence, iii) national protection mechanisms, iv) monitoring of attacks, and v) new technologies and accountability. The results will be presented to the participants at the high-level conference on November 4, 2022.

The registration platform (in English) is open now.

Safety of Journalists still an issue

The safety of journalists is a supporting pillar of the universal, inalienable right to freedom of expression enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Only when journalists can carry out their work freely and in safety are human rights and democracy guaranteed. However, they put themselves in danger every day to carry out their work, especially in conflict situations, or are exposed to political persecution, online violence, intimidation and surveillance.

Although states have a clear duty to protect journalists and ensure safe working conditions for them, this is still often neglected.

According to the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this can be well seen in the war in Ukraine. As of September 1, 2022, 61 journalists from 26 countries have already died, 10 of them while covering the Russian Invasion of Ukraine. Between 2006 and 2021, more than 1,200 journalists have been killed, with those responsible not held accountable in about 87 percent of cases.

BMEIA Federal Ministry for Europe Integration and Foreign Affairs