Professor Jackie Harrison, Chair of CFOM, participated in two key events related to the “Consultation on Strengthening the UN Action Plan on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity” in Geneva, last June. In her presentation at a Technical Meeting on 28 June, underlined how CFOM and academia are contributing to the collection, analysis and monitoring of data to operationalise the safety-related indicator for progress on Sustainable Development Goal Proposed Indicator 16.10, in respect of arbitrary deprivation of liberty. This indicator [16.10] covers “the number of verified cases of killing, kidnapping, enforced disappearance, arbitrary detention and torture of journalists and associated media personnel” in the previous 12 months.
More information about the meeting are available here.
Professor Harrison also participated at the Multi-stakeholder event on the 29th of June. This one-day event, which was held at the UN Palais de Nations, and convened by UNESCO and OHCHR, brought together key stakeholders to take stock of developments in the area of safety of journalists and impunity, within the context of the first five years of implementation of the United Nations Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. CFOM was asked to contribute on behalf of academia’s review of the UN Action Plan and submitted a report that included the co-ordinated response from academia, but also from civil society organisations.
Professor Jackie Harrison on Geneva meetings
Which is the role of academia in contributing to the strengthening and the implementation of the UN Action plan and the SDG Agenda (and why JSRN is important in this context)?
JH: The involvement of academia in the UN Action Plan and the SDG agenda is designed to lead to the identification of areas that are directly related to the issues of journalism safety and impunity and to identify gaps in the relevant research that is already undertaken. We seek to develop and deepen research expertise in the areas that the UNESCO research agenda proposes as well as in relation to policy agendas such as the Action Plan, the relevant UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and relevant law-related initiatives. To this we would add the in-depth study of vital concepts to the understanding of journalism safety and issues of impunity such as ‘risk’ and ‘impunity’ as well as to the analysis of data relating to attacks on journalists and freedom of the media.
What is CFOM’s contribution to the discussions in Geneva?
JH: CFOM collated academic responses worldwide in UNESCO’s review of the UN Action Plan entitled ‘Multi-Stakeholder Consultation on strengthening the implementation of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the issue of Impunity. CFOM wrote up the responses, presented the headline findings at the Geneva Multi-staker conference on 29 June (JH: that’s the picture of me sitting with my name tag infront of me) and contributed to sections 3.5, 3.5.1,.3.5.2 and 3.5.3 in the Report (attached in this post). The important aspect of this was to stress the role that academia could play in the implementation of the UN Action Plan and make it more specific and concrete. The final Outcome Document (also attached in this post) sets out short and medium term strategic types and areas of action.
What are the most important outcomes of the meetings in Geneva?
JH: Crucially for CFOM (and for academia more broadly) the following outcomes give a strengthened and visible role to academia in the implementation of the UNAP:
- Expand the Journalism Safety Research Network (JSRN) by encouraging other academic researchers to enter the field and share knowledge, including on the gender dimensions of safety, such as through organising seminars and publishing research,
- Take up the opportunities for research available through the Journalists’ Safety Indicators, and make use of UNESCO and UN data on safety and impunity,
- Develop specific courses as part of the core curriculum in all journalism schools, including adapting specialised teaching resources that have been produced by UNESCO and others; invite practising journalists to share practical safety experience with journalism students; and contribute to teaching the importance of journalist safety and the role of journalism in society at all educational levels.
One of the important things to develop – which was in the Report, but not the Outcome document, and in which CFOM may take a lead in, is the creation of a steering group that includes academics for the future development and implementation of the UN Action Plan.
Which are the significant next steps to further the Agenda on Journalism Safety?
JH: What is needed now is turn the broadly agreed upon normative strategy and to implement it effectively and successfully at the local level.
You can find more details on the website of the Multi-Stakeholder Consultation on Strengthening the Implementation of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, or in the following documents: