The United Nations Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity (UNPA) was launched in 2012 following endorsement from the UN Chief Executives Board in April that year. The UNPA was designed to help create a free and safe environment for journalists to conduct their work. It encourages a multi-stakeholder approach between various actors, such as NGOs, media houses and governmental organisations, to campaign and raise awareness of the threats that journalists face. More about the UNPA can be read here.
Academic research is fundamental to understand the threats faced by journalists
CFOM has been involved in developing and working on the UNPA since 2012. In October 2012, CFOM and BBC Global News hosted a Symposium on Media Responses to Matters of Life and Death in BBC’s New Broadcasting House with help from the BBC College of Journalism. The Symposium was the first time that senior media figures heard about the UNPA and journalists also spoke about the dangers that they faced in their work. The Symposium led to agreement by editors and executives of more than 40 international news organisations, journalists’ associations and civil society organisations to sign the London Statement which encourages news media to monitor the actions of governments with regard to journalists’ safety and calls for effective implementation of the UNPA to stop the killings of journalists and end impunity. CFOM Co-Founders William Horsley and Jackie Harrison handed over the London Statement to the then Director for Freedom of Expression and Media Development at UNESCO, Guy Berger (pictured above).
2017 saw the fifth anniversary of the UNPA take place. CFOM was involved in the multi-stakeholder Consultation on Strengthening the UNPA which took place in Geneva. CFOM was also invited to submit a report on the co-ordinated response from academia on advancing the implementation of the UNPA. The report also included responses from civil society organisations. CFOM members, Jackie Harrison, William Horsley and Stef Pukallus participated in events (pictured right). Jackie Harrison, Chair of CFOM, participated in a panel discussion with civil society organisations and also presented insights from CFOM’s report. The presentation underlined how CFOM and academia contribute to the collection, analysis and monitoring of data to operationalise the safety-related indicator for progress on Sustainable Development Goal Indicator 16.10.
CFOM was asked to lead the academic consultation on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the UNPA in 2022. The academic consultation included three rounds of discussions concerning the UNPA and potential recommendations that academia could make to improve the implementation of the UNPA. The academic consultation included scholars from across the globe and a literature stocktake of publications focusing on journalism safety between 1992 and 2022. The findings from the academic consultation was presented by UNESCO Chair, Jackie Harrison, at the Safety of Journalists: Protecting Media to protect Democracy High Level Conference in Vienna, Austria on 3-4 November 2022. An interview with the UNESCO Chair on the UNPA and academia’s role can be found here.