UNITED NATIONS (AP) — A proposed U.N. resolution would “unequivocally” condemn all attacks, reprisals and violence against journalists and media workers and urge governments to take action to end the prevailing impunity and punish these crimes.
The draft General Assembly resolution circulated Friday also urges “the immediate and unconditional release of journalists and media workers who have been arbitrarily arrested, arbitrarily detained or taken hostage or who have become victims of enforced disappearances.”
The resolution was drafted by Greece, France, Austria, Costa Rica and Tunisia, according to U.N. diplomats, and lists 34 co-sponsors including the United Kingdom, Germany and many other European and Latin American countries as well as the Ivory Coast and Lebanon.
The United States was not included on the list, but an official at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations told The Associated Press the Biden administration has signed on as a co-sponsor. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly,
The draft resolution must first be approved by the General Assembly’s human rights committee and it then needs final approval from the 193-member world body. Unlike Security Council resolutions, General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding, but they do reflect global opinion.
The proposed resolution stresses that the right to freedom of opinion and expression is guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It recognizes the importance of “free, independent, plural and diverse media and access to information, online as well as offline, in building inclusive and peaceful knowledge societies and democracies.” And it acknowledges that journalism is continuously evolving and “contributing to the shaping of public debate.”
The draft calls on governments to take legal measures to protect journalists and media workers and to “do their utmost” to prevent violence, threats and attacks against them. And it calls on them “to develop and implement effective and transparent legal frameworks and measures for the protection of journalists and media workers and for combating impunity.”
It stresses the importance of accountability, first by conducting “impartial, speedy, thorough, independent and effective investigations into all alleged violence, threats and attacks against journalists and media workers, including sexual and gender-based violence against women journalists and media workers in armed conflict and non-conflict situations.”
The proposed resolution also urges political leaders, public officials, and government authorities “to refrain from denigrating, intimidating or threatening the media, including individual journalists and media workers, or from using misogynist or any discriminatory language towards women journalists, which thereby undermines trust in the credibility of journalists as well as respect for the importance of independent journalism.”
In addition, the draft would condemn “unequivocally” government actions aimed at disrupting access to information — or the dissemination of information — online or offline. This aims “to undermine the work of journalists in informing the public, including through practices such as Internet shutdowns or measures to unduly restrict, block or take down media websites, such as denial of service attacks,” it says.
The proposed resolution calls on all countries to halt such measures “which cause irreparable harm” to efforts to build inclusive, peaceful and democratic societies. It also calls on governments to ensure that defamation and libel laws are not misused.