I would like to thank the U.S. delegation for organizing today's meeting of the UN Security Council devoted to the important issue of the protection of journalists in armed conflicts. Ukraine joins the EU statement that will be / was announced. We express our gratitude to Mr. Y.Eliasson for his comprehensive briefing, as well as to the representatives of the leading media.
No one doubts that nowadays information impacts directly the main global political processes. The last two years the world has witnessed a steady growth of the number of journalists who were killed or injured while performing their professional duties. Unfortunately, one of the main reasons for this unacceptable situation is an increase of the number of zones of instability, imperfect international legal mechanisms to protect journalists, impunity of those who commit crimes and create obstacles to the journalists' professional activity, as well as the global state of information campaigns.
The events of "Arab Spring", especially in Syria, alarming news from some other countries of the region show to us the real price we pay for the opportunity to know the real situation on the ground inside the zones of conflicts and. From where ordinary people are trying to escape, saving themselves from chaos and bloodshed, the journalists, per contra, are trying to get there in order to provide us with the latest news. But unfortunately, sometimes, their courage and professional confidence cost them life or health.
Here I would like to recall that few months ago, because of successful escape, the Ukrainian journalist Anhar Kochnyeva was able to return home from captivity in Syria, where she spent almost six months. More than 20 Ukrainian journalists over the past 10 years died while performing their duties in the line of fire.
That is why today's debate, in our view, should give the answer to the question "How the UN and Security Council in particular, could contribute more effectively to the protection of professional activity of journalists from violence and secure their work from aggression in the hot spots."
Strengthening freedom of expression and the development of solid platform of international humanitarian law that would allow to secure the right of journalists to work freely having no fear of persecution and aggression is one of the main priorities of Ukraine's chairmanship in the OSCE in 2013 and vice-presidency in the UN Committee on Information.
Ukraine believes that free, independent, responsible and professional journalism - is the basis of modern civil democratic society. Our country supports all international mechanisms aimed at strengthening the protection of journalists in the world in particular those promoted by the UN Human Rights Council. We supported Council's resolution adopted last September, which was designed to improve situation in this sphere. Ukraine is also actively engaged in UNESCO's work to strengthen the intergovernmental response to the acts of violence and aggression against journalists working in areas of high risk and danger.
My country is a strong supporter of comprehensive and practical implementation of the principles laid down in the "UN Plan of action on the safety of journalists". We consider it as a significant document for the global counteraction against impunity of persons and criminal entities who threaten media directly in the hot spots.
Strengthening of the professional NGO's activity worldwide could also become an important element of the efforts aimed at the general improvement of the journalists’ security. These NGOs should continue to draw governments’ attention to the shortcomings of the existing practices of the physical and legal protection of media representatives. We believe that close cooperation between different governmental agencies and NGOs could give a positive impulse, including the revision of the list of new spheres of informational activity where journalists will have the same rights as if they work in the zones of instability, e.g. in blogosphere.
Ukraine believes that one of the most problematic aspects of the protection of journalists in armed conflicts is not the absence of international legal framework, but the lack of specific mechanisms for its implementation.
This is especially illustrated by difficulties in making accountable those who are responsible for the aggression against the media representatives in conflict zones. Besides that, it is extremely important to elaborate and adopt at the UN level a concrete distinction between journalist activity during armed conflicts and espionage. In some States accusation in espionage often serves as a legal basis to deny journalists access to the conflict zones as well as motive of their illegal detention.
In this context, Ukraine is extremely alarmed by the current tendency of increasing media confrontation that could deepen the crisis of mutual confidence between States and affect some positive trends elaborated in the UN to protect the freedom of journalists and freedom of speech. We stress once again the unacceptability of spreading the manipulative and biased information (especially the one obtained illegally) in order to achieve situational political benefits. Supporting and empowering journalists who are involved in covering events in the conflict zones are essential tools for the healthy and high-quality media environment of the world.
Ukraine strongly believes in the necessity to improve an expert work aimed to upgrade the processes of investigation and making accountable those who affect the legitimate right of journalists who work into the zones of instability.
We also pay tribute to the journalists who died or were injured, performing professional duties. Our country will remain an active supporter of free and secure journalism and considers the UN and its Security Council as an instrumental actor in strengthening their basic rights and freedoms.
Thank you for your attention.