Protection of Journalists
Statement by H.E. Herman Schaper
Permanent Representative of the
Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations
Open Debate on “PROTECTION OF JOURNALISTS”
in the UN Security Council
NEW YORK, 17 July 2013
The Netherlands would like to align itself with the statement of the European Union.
Journalists, including bloggers, are still all too often the target of aggression, harassment, arbitrary detention and even extrajudicial killings. Adoption of Security Council Resolution 1738, though an important step, has not put an end to the attacks on reporters. More needs to be done. This open debate is instrumental in that and, therefore, I would like to commend the United States for organizing this important event.
The role of journalists before, during and after conflict is indispensable. The mere fact that they are intentionally being targeted only testifies to that. The media play an important role in preventing conflict by ensuring that their reporting separates facts and tangible realities from assumptions and spin. But after conflict has broken out, the media has a responsibility as well to provide a reliable account of what is really going on. Their stories and images show what is actually happening, and they can help the community’s understanding of conflict. And real insight might help to generate international commitment for conflict resolution.
Resolution 1738 summed it up well. Intentional acts of violence against journalists are unacceptable; they need to be condemned and should be prosecuted by the authorities. Because attacks on the media have the sole and illegitimate purpose of curtailing freedom of expression. And through that people’s voices. And we need more, not less voices to be heard.
Thanks to the advent of the internet that is exactly what is currently happening: everyone can now reach large audiences with their story or footage. “Citizen journalism” has become an important source of information during conflict. And real-time images often have enormous impact, which also makes them for some an attractive instrument to manipulation.
The Netherlands, therefore, decided to encourage new ways of journalism, and also to contribute to the protection of its messengers.
“Encouragement” by financially supporting the development of the StoryMaker APP. This application enables citizen and professional journalists in conflict areas to immediately tell and share their stories by mobile phone with millions of people around the world without endangering their online privacy and security. The APP also includes an interactive training guide on independent and safe reporting. It is available for free and can be downloaded through www.storymaker.cc
“Protection” by establishing the Freedom Online Coalition. This cross-regional coalition of now 21 countries was set up in 2011 and is committed to respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms offline as well as online. As a part of that, several members of the Freedom Online Coalition have set up the Digital Defenders Partnership to promote innovative solutions in keeping the access to internet open. This Partnership is used as well to support journalists, bloggers and cyber activists who find themselves under attack, and to facilitate deployment of emergency internet in countries where internet is not accessible.
Just 2 examples of concrete actions in order to protect the freedom of expression and its messengers. But more still needs to be done. The Netherlands looks forward to collaborate with the members of the Council to ensure better protection for the courageous journalists who help to ensure that the truth is not the first casualty in conflict situations.