Targeting the Truth: IHL and the Protection of Journalists in Conflict Zones (Live Web Seminar 50)

January 17, 2013 - 9:30am - 11:00am
Online, United States

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For the media, 2012 has been one of the deadliest years on record. According to the International Press institute (IPI), at least 119 journalists were killed last year - the highest number since it started to track attacks against media professionals in 1997. Thirty-six of these deaths were reported in Syria alone. Pakistan, Somalia, Brazil and the Gaza strip also proved quite dangerous for reporters in the last year, claiming 24 lives.

War reporting is, of course, a risky enterprise. Due to their proximity to the battlefield, media professionals are likely to become victims of a shell or a stray bullet. However, incidents in recent years show that journalists, often considered unwanted witnesses, are being targeted for what they do. Media professionals are also subject to other forms of violence such as kidnappings, torture, harassment, and unlawful imprisonment, which corroborate this trend of willful attacks - from government officials and non-state actors alike - despite their protected status under international humanitarian law. Given the critical role journalism plays in shaping public opinion by exposing the horrors of war, civilian media facilities have also been targeted.

Against this backdrop, this Live Web Seminar will bring together expert practitioners to address the following questions:

  • What is the humanitarian function of journalism in wartime? To what extent the risks and challenges of this function entitle media professionals to special protections under international humanitarian law?
  • How does international humanitarian law protect journalists and what are the limits of this legal protection in light of the challenges of contemporary armed conflicts?
  • How have technological advances and the changing nature of armed conflict affected war reporting in recent years?
  • What mechanisms can be implemented to improve the safety of war reporters?


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