New commitments to protect journalists’ safety by key actors at World Press Freedom Conference 2020

UNESCO and the Kingdom of the Netherlands will organize the 2020 World Press Freedom Conference on 9 – 10 December in an innovative online format. Influential journalists and press freedom champions from around the world will take part in the conference and examine solutions to overcome the most pressing challenges facing the media in these unprecedented times, including:

  • Maria Ressa, CEO of Rappler (Philippines)
  • Amal Clooney, Human rights lawyer (UK)
  • Matthew Caruana Galizia, Director, the Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation (Malta)
  • Elisabeth Bumiller, Washington Bureau Chief, the New York Times (USA)
  • Christiane Amanpour, Chief International Anchor, CNN (USA)
  • Carole Cadwalladr, Journalist and contributor to The Guardian (UK)
  • Joe Maalouf, Founder, Dignity NGO (Lebanon)
  • Nima Elbagir, Senior International Correspondent, CNN (Sudan)
  • Carmen Aristegui, Show Host, CNN en Español (Mexico)
  • Jineth Bedoya, Journalist and laureate of the 2020 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize (Colombia)

New research, tools and measures to strengthen press freedom and the security of journalists around the world will be announced at the event.

The two-day event will include numerous interactive panels and discussions on topics ranging from investigating killings of journalists, online violence against women journalists, media sustainability, online content regulation, and media’s response to COVID-19. High level governmental authorities, judges, prosecutors, special rapporteurs, and civil society leaders will be involved in the discussions.

Some conference highlights:

  • Introductory discussions (9 Dec) involving high-profile journalists and press freedom champions
  • A High-Level panel on the safety of journalists and the problem of impunity for crimes against media workers (9 December) with Stef Blok, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, Irene Khan, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of freedom of opinion and expression, legal expert Amal Clooney, and Věra Jourová, European Commission Vice-President for values and transparency, among others.
  • An extended interview with CNN Chief International Anchor Christiane Amanpour on 10 December who will respond exclusively to questions from the audience, including via UNESCO’s social media channels.
  • A conversation between two of the most prominent women journalists in Latin America Jineth Bedoya and Carmen Aristegui who will exchange experiences about their battles against censorship and violence against women.

Key launches:

  • The launch of the results of a global UNESCO-ICFJ survey on online violence targeting women journalists around the world.
    The survey received more than 1,000 responses from all over the world and 73% of women respondents reported having experienced online violence in connection with their work. The survey is part of a broader UNESCO-commissioned study in 15 countries about the incidence, impact and response to online violence against women journalists.
  • UNESCO and the International Association of Prosecutors will launch the first international guidelines on Investigating and Prosecuting Crimes against Journalists, with key recommendations for prosecutors. This is the first initiative implemented with the International Association of Prosecutors.
  • The conference will see the launch of the first International Forum of Legal Actors, which will bring together judges, lawyers and prosecutors on an annual basis to share best practices in protecting freedom of expression.
  • UNESCO’s new report on media independence, part of the World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development series, will be launched for the conference.

Organizing the event on the 9 and 10 December, International Day Against Corruption and International Human Rights Day respectively, will provide a unique opportunity to look back on how independent media have performed in 2020, notably with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic, and work to expose corruption and human rights violations, while journalists themselves were under attack.