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

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