On 27 May, 2015 the UN Security Council has held a debate on the protection of journalists in conflict situations. Highlighting the need to safeguard impartial, independent and effective investigation, the debate concluded with the unanimous adoption of Resolution 2222 on the safety of journalists in situations of armed conflict - the only one of its kind to specifically address the safety and protection of journalists, media professionals and associated personnel.
The debate was organized in response to the increasingly dangerous risks journalists and media professionals undertake in today’s political climate of growing terrorist threats and increasing asymmetric warfare. According to the concept note, prepared by permanent mission of Lithuanian and Latvia to the UN, entitled “Protection of Journalists and Media Freedom - Key to Sustainable Future”, 61 journalists were killed in 2014 and 221 were imprisoned, and there has been little progress in reducing these numbers or bringing the perpetrators to justice. A range of cases were discussed, from the troubling rise of international journalists brutally killed in Syria to the less known 95% cases of locally based journalists killed in conflict situations across the globe.
Deputy Secretary General of the UN Jan Eliasson emphasised that the protection of journalists in conflict situations is fundamentally about the right to information, the protection of civilians, the respect from Human Rights and not giving into threats and intimidation from those that practice violence and intolerance. He appealed for a comprehensive approach when addressing these issues as the challenges for journalists in conflict areas are manifold and varied, depending on the conflict. Corruption, intimidation, and weak judicial systems, all of which contribute to impunity, must also be seriously addressed.
Building on this, the Resolution states the need to strengthen efforts to combat impunity through existing legal frameworks, to provide appropriate steps to ensure accountability, to enhance reporting on violence against journalists, to create, in law and in practice safe environments for journalists to work independently in situations of armed conflict and to improve cooperation between international, regional and sub-regional organizations working to strengthen the protection of journalists.