Statement by Ambassador Sahebzada A. Khan Deputy Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations during the United Nations Security Council Open Debate on “Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict: Protection of Journalists” (17 July 2013)

Thank you Madam President,

We would like to thank United States for organizing this Open Debate on an issue of great contemporary importance and relevance. We are also grateful to the briefers for their useful insights on the subject which will help the Council focus its attention towards protecting journalists in situations of armed conflict as part of the broader debate on the protection of civilians.

Madam President,

The role and importance of media in shaping public opinion as well as moral and political choices vis-à-vis conflict situations is becoming increasingly decisive in the modern world. For the same reasons, threats to safety and security of journalists and associated media personnel have increased manifold in recent times.

Madam President,

Security Council resolution 1738(2006), which was unanimously adopted by the Security Council more than six years ago, strongly condemned any intentional attacks against the journalists, media professionals and associated personnel and sent out a strong signal to the parties to armed conflict to comply with their obligations under the international law. The resolution also made a strong call for ending impunity in this regard.

While reiterating the provisions of that resolution, we need to take a fresh look at contemporary threats against journalists in armed conflicts in view of the increasingly complex nature of conflict situations; increased use of terror tactics; blurring of boundaries between warring parties in non-international armed conflicts as well as between war correspondents and independent journalists; and new and emerging trends such as the concept of embedded journalism and use of protection afforded by private armed escorts by media.

Madam President,

It is a matter of concern that despite clear provisions of the international law, in particular Article 79 of Additional Protocol 1 of the Geneva Convention, that clearly identifies journalists engaged in professional missions in areas of armed conflict as civilians, provided they take no action that prejudices their status as a civilian, deliberate targeting, arbitrary detention and internment of journalists in situations of armed conflict continues to be on the rise.

It seems that the problem is not dearth of international legal standards and norms, but lack of their understanding and implementation.

It is, therefore, important to engage in a well-coordinated and comprehensive international awareness raising campaign that highlights the existing provisions in the international law and points out the consequences of their violations.

Furthermore, ending impunity by bringing the perpetrators of attacks against journalist to justice will have a significant impact on the situation. The Security Council can play an important role by reinforcing this message in its decisions.

To ensure the neutrality and impartiality of the journalists, concepts like embedded journalism need to be carefully analyzed, especially with regard to their impact on safety and security of journalists. Moreover, employing distinctive emblems in conflict situations may also help.

Achieving the delicate balance between safety and security of the journalists and media personnel with the need for unfettered access to conflict areas is of critical importance. Concerned authorities must share all information necessary to ensure the safety of the media personnel who should in turn take their advice into account and respect local laws and regulations.

Furthermore, increased resources must be made available to train journalists covering situations of armed conflict, focusing on ways to cope with the changing nature of armed conflicts as well as increasing threats of terrorism and kidnappings for ransom.

Madam President,

Today’s debate is a reiteration of the strong message of Resolution 1738 that Security Council remains focused on the issue of protection of journalists in armed conflict and is willing to play its role in this regard. We hope that we will continue to stand united towards ensuring this end.

I thank you Madam President.