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UNESCO's Research Agenda on the Safety of Journalists

To strengthen cooperation with academia in line with the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, UNESCO has developed an academic research agenda on the topic of safety of journalists. By creation of the agenda, UNESCO aims to encourage new academic research in this important area that until present has been covered only by a scarce amount of scientifically oriented studies. Scholars of different fields are invited to participate in the academic special sessions that UNESCO will be organizing during various events in order to discuss the research agenda and to make contributions to it. It is hoped that the agenda inspires new research, and that in the future, more researchers will be conducting research on the topics of the agenda.

As the UN agency with a specific mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom, UNESCO actively promotes the safety of journalists and those who produce journalism. UNESCO has championed the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, which is the first concerted effort within the UN system to address these issues via a multi-stakeholder and holistic approach. The UN Plan aims towards the creation of a free and safe environment for journalists and media workers in both conflict and non-conflict situations, with a view to strengthen peace, democracy, and development worldwide.

Academic research on safety issues can significantly increase the understanding of the complex issue of safety of journalists, and through that contribute to creation of safer working conditions for all who produce journalism. UNESCO endorses cooperation with academic scholars, and actively works towards strengthening it. The academic research agenda is a new effort towards that end. It discusses ten broad areas of possible research relating to the safety of journalists, including the aspects of physical, digital and psychological safety. The research agenda is work-in-process, and comments and new inputs are welcomed to improve the document.

UNESCO plans to organize a series of special academic sessions in order to discuss the research agenda, but also to invite scholars to share their ongoing research. The first two sessions took place in July 2015, during the IAMCR 2015 conference in Montreal, Canada, and Global Communication Association Conference in Berlin, Germany. The latest academic session took place at the IAMCR conference in Leicester, UK, on 27-31 July 2016. In this session, Centre for Freedom of the Media (CFOM, University of Sheffield) announced the Journalism Safety Research Network, JSRN. Read further details here.

UNESCO organized the first academic full conference on the topic together with UNESCO Chair at the University of Gothenburg in cooperation with University of Sheffield, University of Tampere, University of Helsinki and IAMCR during the World Press Freedom Day celebrations in Helsinki, Finland, on 3-4 May 2016. The conference brought together more than 80 researchers working on or interested in safety of journalists. The results of the conference will be published in a book, planned to be launched at the WPFD 2017. For more information, please see the conference website, and the related CALL FOR PAPERS (now closed). The news item on the event was published on UNESCO website.

For further questions concerning the research agenda and the upcoming special academic sessions, please contact Mr. Guy Berger (g.berger(at)unesco.org).

Click here to download the UNESCO's Research Agenda on Safety of Journalists

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