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Security Council Open Debate on the protection of journalists in armed conflict

Published Wednesday July 17 2013

On 17th July 2013, the US Security Council Presidency organised an open debate on the protection of journalists in armed conflict, in the wider framework of the protection of civilians. It was the first debate of this type since 2006 and the adoption of resolution 1738 (2006) on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, aiming to prevent acts of violence against journalists. Together with Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, four representatives of the press briefed the Council: Richard Engel (NBC), Kathleen Carroll (Associated Press, and a member of the Committee to Protect Journalists), Mustafa Haji Abdinur (Agence France Presse) and Gaith Abdul-Ahad (The Guardian).

Due to the nature of their work as war correspondents, some journalists are often on the front lines of hostilities and are often targeted. As a result, they pay a disproportionately large price in armed conflict: many lose their lives, others are victims of all kinds of abuse or are imprisoned. Seeing them as uncomfortable witnesses, belligerents are often indifferent to the fates of journalists. In times of armed conflict, international humanitarian law treats journalists in the same way as civilians (Art. 79 of additional protocol I to the Geneva Conventions) and guarantees them the same protection. 

In her address, Ambassador Sylvie Lucas condemned in the strongest terms all deliberate attacks, physical or otherwise, against journalists, as well as all forms of intimidation. At the same time, she recalled that only condemning these acts is insufficient and that journalists need to be granted the same protection in practice that they are entitled to under international humanitarian law. Ambassador Lucas advocated increased cooperation between governments, international organisations, civil society and media representatives, in order to achieve better protection of journalists. 

Link to the intervention of Ambassador Lucas