WAN-IFRA Joins Call for UN Convention On The Protection of Media Professionals

WAN-IFRA joined a mission to the United Nations in New York to launch a campaign seeking the approval of a new UN Convention dedicated to the protection of media professionals.

The delegation included representatives of journalists’ organisations, media workers, broadcasters and newspapers from around the world.

Meeting at the UN headquarters in New York with state representatives from Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, Latin America, Asia and North America, the coalition set out the case for a new UN Convention dedicated to the protection of media professionals.

The initiative was launched by the International Federation of Journalists, and the text of the Convention was drafted by International Human Rights expert Carmen Draghici.

Dr Draghici told the meeting that as a result of the deliberate targeting of journalists and the systemic impact of attacks on media workers for citizens right to know, there was a clear case for a dedicated instrument to tackle crimes against journalists. 

IFJ president Philippe Leruth said: “A journalist’s murder simply because of his or her activity is a scandal, but a far bigger scandal is that 9 out of every 10 journalists’ murders remain unpunished. The Khashoggi case, like all the others, illustrates that journalists are singled out as a target and as such they need dedicated protection.”

WAN-IFRA Executive Director of Public Affairs and Media Policy Elena Perotti said “In the current international legal framework there are no binding norms establishing safeguards for media workers specifically. This undeniably contributes to the phenomenon of the accountability bar being reset to the lowest level by States getting away with the normalisation of a culture of violence against journalists.”

Johannes Studinger, general secretary of UNI-MEI, told the meeting: “Not a week goes by without us receiving reports of yet more attacks or repression against media workers. Unless there is action we fear that we will just keep talking about more and more attacks.”

IFJ general secretary Anthony Bellanger said: “Today was an important first step towards securing enhanced protection for journalists and media professionals. We welcome the support and commitment from member states and our fellow professional organisations and will continue to build a broader coalition to deliver real action on impunity.”

The coalition included representatives from the European Broadcasting Union, the world’s leading alliance of public service media.

Representing UK local and national news media, the News Media Assocation is a member of WAN-IFRA.