The right to freedom of expression and information constitutes one of the essential foundations of democratic society. In conflict situations and wars, the role of the media is critical in providing the public with accurate and timely information. Trustworthy news and images can contribute to the protection of civilians and conflict prevention, bring to the attention of the international community the horrors and reality of conflict and expose violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.

As a consequence, the work of journalists in conflict zones is fraught with dangers: denial of access, censorship, harassment, arbitrary detention and attacks are alarmingly frequent. As others who decide to work in conflict areas, journalists take consciously a special risk by working there. However, they are considered civilians and, as such, should not be targeted. Member states should recognise the crucial importance and role of journalism and the media – and ultimately individual journalists – in times of conflict and aggression. Safety of journalists in conflict areas is instrumental to that end.

Conflict situations are also often a fertile soil for mass disinformation campaigns intended to undermine the proper understanding of the developments, as well more generally, security, public order and peaceful democratic processes. There is a vital need to develop tools to more effectively protect democracy from “information weapons”, while preserving freedom of expression and freedom of the media both in the countries involved in the conflict and more widely.

Journalism in situations of conflict and aggression - principles from the relevant Council of Europe and other international standards


Annual Report 2023 by the Partner Organisations to the Council of Europe Platform to Promote the Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists “War in Europe and the Fight for the Right to Report"

COMMITTEE of ministers standards
Parliamentary Assembly
debunking disinformation

Technical assistance and cooperation actions in time of war and conflict

Support action to Ukraine

The Russian Federation’s military aggression against Ukraine brought dangers and casualties for media actors and media organisations in Ukraine. These include attacks on journalists, media workers taken to hostage, threats to journalists, shelling by Russian military of media infrastructure, captured radio frequency resources, spread of Russian propaganda.
The priority adjustments to the Council of Europe Action Plan for Ukraine includes measures aiming to enforce to safety of journalists and media, and of access to information in Ukraine.

Measure 1. Support to National TV and Radio Broadcasting Council of Ukraine and National Public Broadcasting Company (UA:PBC) in order to  enable their capacities to function under the new circumstances
  • Enabling a grant to UA:PBC May 2022
Measure 2. Facilitating Headquartered Hub for Media Support: Safety and Prevention of Information Disorder through information sharing and connecting to the Council of Europe/Platform for Safety of Journalism alerts
Measure 3. Assist the Ukrainian media and journalists’ organisations in informing public on war facilitating their conditions to work for reporting while internally displaced or refugeed