The 21th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council has adopted a resolution calling for "States to promote a safe and enabling environment for journalists to perform their work independently and without undue interference".
Jim Boumelha, president of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) said: "The resolution is a tremendous boost to our global campaign for the protection of journalists and we commend states which tabled and supported it, but states must now show their good faith by implementing in earnest the resolution and not leave it to gather dust on shelves in the halls of UN offices in Geneva."
The resolution, which was tabled by the delegations of Austria, Brazil, Morocco, Switzerland and Tunisia and garnered support of over 60 other delegations, was adopted without a vote on Wednesday.
The Human Rights' Council's resolution requests states to take the necessary steps to promote the safety of journalists. These include "legislative measures, awareness-raising in the judiciary, law enforcement officers and military personnel, as well as journalists and civil society, regarding international human rights and humanitarian law obligations and commitments relating to the safety of journalists, the monitoring and reporting of attacks against journalists, publicly condemning attack and dedicating necessary resources to investigate and prosecute such attacks."
States are also encouraged to introduce "protection programmes, based on local needs and challenges, including protection measures that take into account the individual circumstances of the persons at risk, as well as, where applicable, the good practices in different countries".
The resolution called for better cooperation and coordination at the regional and international levels between in promoting the safety of journalists: "United Nations agencies, funds and programmes, other international and regional organizations, Member States and all relevant stakeholders, when applicable and in the scope of their mandates, to cooperate further in the implementation of the United Nations Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, elaborated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and endorsed by the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination."
The Council also requests the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, working with the Special Rapporteur on the protection and promotion of the right to freedom of expression to prepare a report on the good practices "in the protection of journalists, the prevention of attacks and the fight against impunity for attacks committed against journalists." States and other relevant stakeholders will contribute to the report which will be presented to the 24th Session of the UN Human Rights Council.
The IFJ, which is spearheading the campaign to promote the protection journalists around the world, cautions against putting a lot of emphasis on the number of legal instruments, declarations and resolutions which are not implemented. In a recent meeting at the UN General Assembly in New York, IFJ President said that "The killing of journalists continues to increase worldwide despite the plethora of international instruments, international human rights laws, universal human rights laws, covenants, declarations and resolutions which are simply ignored by many governments."
The resolution was adopted in a week where the President of the African Federation of Journalists (FAJ), Omar Faruk Osman and the IFJ Human Rights Officer, Ernest Sagaga, briefed a meeting of African ambassadors in Geneva on the campaign for the safety of journalists in Africa.
"We welcome the crucial support of the African diplomats for this resolution," said FAJ President, Omar Faruk Osman. "It represents a springboard towards securing a binding resolution by the forthcoming African Union Summit on the safety of journalists on the continent."