On Wednesday (27 May), the Security Council held an open debate and the ministerial-level on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, with focus on the protection of journalists in conflict situations. The debate, chaired by Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius, also included a briefing from UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson as well as Christophe Deloire, Secretary-General of Reporters Without Borders. The Secretary-General’s report on the protection of civilians, which is produced once every 18 months, will likely be transmitted to the Council in early June, and thus was not be available prior to the debate.
The aim of the debate, as stated in a concept note circulated by Lithuania on 1 May (S/2015/307), is to review implementation of resolution 1738 and discuss lessons learned. Resolution 1738, adopted on 23 December 2006, is the only Council decision to specifically address the safety and protection of journalists, media professionals and associated personnel (hereafter referred to only as journalists). It condemns attacks against such personnel in situations of armed conflict, recalling that journalists are protected as civilians under international humanitarian law. The Council has only held one other open debate on the protection of journalists since the adoption of resolution 1738 on 17 July 2013, from which there was no outcome.
The open debate resulted in the passing of resolution 2222 (2015) on the protection of civilians and journalists in conflict situations. The resolution reflects the themes outlined in the concept note and seeks in particular to strengthen the Council’s focus on the need to combat impunity for attacks and violence against journalists, enhance reporting on violence against journalists and improve international coordination to strengthen the protection of journalists. More specifically, it aims to update resolution 1738 with new provisions reflecting recent developments while reiterating key provisions of resolution 1738. Among other things, it condemns the prevailing impunity for attacks against journalists and in this regard urges member states to take appropriate steps to ensure accountability. It also calls for the immediate release of journalists who have been kidnapped or taken as hostages, and for member states to ensure a safe environment for journalists in accordance with international obligations. Furthermore, the resolution encourages greater coordination between regional and subregional organisations in areas such as technical assistance and capacity-building to ensure the safety of journalists and the sharing of expertise and good practices that can enhance implementation of relevant Council resolutions.
Within the resolution, there is only one reference specifically to gender, in which the Council acknowleges "specific risks faced by women journalists, media professionals and associated personnel in conduct of their work, and underlining in this context the importance of considering the gender dimension of measures to address their safety in situations of armed conflict."