New York 17 July 2013
Statement by Mrs. Dragana Anđelić Charge d'Affaires Deputy Permanent Representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the United Nations at the Security Council debate on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict: Protection of Journalists
Thank you, Madam President,
At the outset, I would like to thank you for organizing this important and timely debate in order to address issues related to the protection of civilians in armed conflict, with the special emphasis on the protection of journalists. I am also grateful to Mr. Jan Eliasson, the Under-Secretary-General, and representatives of media for their briefings.
Bosnia and Herzegovina aligns itself with the statement delivered by the EU Delegation.
Every single day, The United Nations undertakes very tough and hard work to ensure proper protection from the scourge of war. The most anticipated approach in situations of conflict would be peaceful resolution of disputes through diplomatic efforts. Unfortunately, armed conflicts still occur and civilians in those situations still need protection. Today, the United Nations endeavors represent important landmark in the global efforts to better protect civilians in armed conflicts. We cannot doubt that there is a need for the UN and especially for the Security Council to further work on improving planning, preparedness and policies aimed at reduction of vulnerability of innocent civilians in conflicts.
We would like to reaffirm our commitment regarding the protection of civilians in armed conflict, and to the continuing and full implementation of all relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, including 1265 (1999), 1296 (2000), 1674 (2006), 1738 (2006), 1894 (2009), as well as all of its resolutions on Women, Peace and Security, Children and Armed Conflict and Peacekeeping, and all relevant statements of the UN SC President.
The trend of unlawful targeting of civilians, including women, children, elderly, humanitarian workers and journalists is of great concerns for us. There is no justification for armed groups to attack the civilians. Therefore, we emphasize the responsibility of all parties to a conflict to ensure the security of civilians and to comply strictly with the norms of international humanitarian and human rights law.
The protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression including the right to receive and express opinions and impart information in all societies is crucial. However, journalists and the media have often been subjected to various forms of pressure, blackmail and even physical attacks. It is quite clear that attacks on journalists weakens and endangers the freedom of every citizen.
The fact today is that there is the increasing number of journalists, media professionals and associated personnel killed or injured while reporting from conflict situations, even though that they are considered as civilians and should be respected and protected as such. While expressing our deep concern regarding this issue, we would like to remind all parties to armed conflicts of their legal obligations with regard to the protection of journalists. Also, it is essential to emphasize states’ obligation to prevent such attacks and the need to bring to justice those responsible. Efforts must be enhanced to support the fight against impunity, both at the national and international levels.
Sanctions and other targeted measures play an important role in overall efforts, as well as in initiatives to improve compliance with the law by non-State armed groups.
Although the primary responsibility for the protection of civilians lies with States, the United Nations play crucial role with its systematic approach to the protection of civilians which is at the helm of the global effort. We support more comprehensive and detailed information on the protection of civilians in country-specific situations as well as on measuring progress in the implementation of peacekeeping mandates issues related to the protection of all civilians, including journalists.
We need to ensure the protection of the right to freedom of expression and at the same time to sanctioning of unethical behavior of journalists and the media. Unverified or even fabricated information are often used as weapons, in peaceful or in conflict situations. Bosnia and Herzegovina has experienced the worst effects of hate speech in the past, which was not a freedom of speech, but the speech that incited ethnic hatred and killings. In this regard we are of the view that all journalists have to hold themselves to the high ethical standards at all times and under all circumstances. Prevention of and fight against encouraging, representation and profiling of ethnic, national or religious intolerance, hatred and violence, are of vital interest for the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
We condemn all incitements to violence against civilians in situations of armed conflict, further reaffirm the need to bring to justice, in accordance with applicable international law, individuals who incite such violence. Mandating peacekeeping missions to protect civilians remains one of the most significant actions taken by the Security Council to enhance protection. The United Nations and Security Council need to indicate its willingness, when authorizing missions on the ground in conflict situations, to consider, where appropriate, steps in response to all violence against journalists and media professionals. At the same time it is crucial to consider steps in response to media broadcast inciting crimes against humanity and serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.
Objective and impartial work of journalists in armed conflict is on the one hand appreciated and expected but on the other hand it is adversely affected by high risk. We are half way through 2013 and already we have a significant number of journalists that lost their lives reporting on various conflicts. We need to note also that journalist causalities have dramatically risen making the job of the reporting in the conflict areas one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. We also believe that today's session of the Security Council could provide additional impetus in our efforts to fight for the truth and objectivity, as well as for setting mechanisms to address root causes of violence against journalist and fight against impunity.
In the end we pay tribute to all those journalists that lost their lives caring out their work for benefit of all citizens to realize their right to receive reliable information.
I thank you for your attention.