At the outset, I would like to thank Ireland for convening today’s timely meeting and to our briefers for their insights.
As we have heard today, journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was killed and another reporter injured on 11 May while reporting from the West Bank city of Jenin in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The Security Council strongly condemned the killing and called for an immediate, transparent, and fair and impartial, investigation and also stressed the need for accountability.
Abu Akleh was one of 36 journalists killed this year according to UNESCO. In this context of rising attacks against journalists, it is important to reaffirm that they must be protected in line with international law, including international humanitarian law.
Furthermore, the Security Council should build on resolution 2222 and better reflect today’s realities. In this vein, I would like to focus on the following areas for the Council to act.
First, we need to consider how the emerging complexities of the evolving digital landscape impacts the protection of journalists in armed conflicts. Digital technologies, namely social media and messaging platforms, change the nature of journalism and expand the pool of journalists and their audience, as well as the impact of their reporting.
However, these platforms are also spaces for growing animosity toward so-called “fake news”, eroding trust in journalists, and putting them at an increased risk of violence in the real world. We need to push for effective responses to fighting disinformation across all levels to protect journalists, including by engaging the private sector through regulations, fact-checking, labelling of information, and media literacy campaigns.
Second, to strengthen the protection of journalists, we must consider the gendered dimensions of attacks against journalists. This aspect was highlighted by Special Rapporteur Khan in her first report focused on gender. Sexual and gender-based violence, hate speech, and disinformation are being employed to target women journalists. In Afghanistan, for example, the killing of news anchor Mina Kairi last June was part of an alarming trend of targeted attacks and discrimination and hate speech against Afghan journalists, particularly women.
Ultimately, the Security Council’s approach to measures aimed at protecting journalists cannot be effective unless they are gender responsive.
To conclude, the UAE stands in support of efforts to strengthen the protection of journalists in situations of armed conflict. We realize and appreciate all journalists who risk their lives on the front lines of conflict to provide accurate reporting even amid challenging situations.