Journalists Brief Security Council for First Time
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Four journalists addressing the U.N. Security Council Wednesday said world leaders should do more to protect reporters risking their lives in conflict situations with one foreign correspondent calling for protections similar to those afforded to international diplomats.
NBC’s chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel said that protecting journalists today is perhaps harder than ever “because you have to tackle the question of who is a journalist and who is an activist in a way that never existed before.”
"We’re all bloggers and punks and rebels with cameras. There is absolutely no respect for career journalists anymore," said Engel, who was kidnapped by pro-regime gunmen in northern Syria and held for five days in Dec. 2012.
Engel told council ambassadors that professional journalists should be recognized, “and just like you in the diplomatic community need protection to be objective, if you want professionals who are also objective, we need protection as well.”
Associated Press Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll, vice chairwoman of the Committee to Protect Journalists, said that reporters serve as the public’s eyes and ears in conflict situations by going to places and asking questions that most people cannot.
"An attack on a journalist is a proxy for an attack on the ordinary citizen, an attack on that citizen’s right to information about their communities and their institutions" and their world, she said.
The council invited journalists to brief members for the first time at the invitation of the United States, which holds the Security Council presidency this month.
U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson opened the meeting by decrying the killing of more than 600 journalists in the past decade, including 41 in Syria last year including those who were using social media.
While the council, which deals with threats to international peace and security, was focusing on threats to journalists in armed conflict, Eliasson said journalists in many non-conflict situations around the world have also been killed and are at grave risk.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, “most murdered journalists — 5 in 6 — are killed in their own hometowns covering local stories — crime and corruption,” Carroll said.