Safety and Justice for Journalists

Journalism professor addresses United Nations on crimes against reporters

Rosental Alves UN Banner

School of Journalism Professor Rosental Alves addressed the United Nations General Assembly on Nov. 2 as part of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Alves presented and moderated the panel discussion titled, “Ending impunity for crimes against journalists: Putting resolutions into practice,” which referenced the new UNESCO World Trends Report officially announced the same morning in Paris. Alves also discussed his initiatives to further rights for journalists in Latin America through the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas.


The initiatives of the Knight Center include a partnership with UNESCO and the Supreme Courts of most countries in Latin America to conduct Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) to train thousands of judges on the international legal framework of freedom of expression and protection of journalists.

UNESCO’s Office of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression of the Inter American Commission on Human Rights, and the Knight Center started the MOOC on Oct. 26. Approximately 1,300 judges and other operators of the judicial systems of all countries in Latin America with the exception of Cuba registered for the course.

Previously, two online courses were offered for Mexican judges. One at the national level, supported by the Mexican Supreme Court, reached almost 1,000 judges and other jurists, and the other—at the local level—reached almost 400 people in the state of Coahuila, in Northern Mexico.

On Nov. 2, 2013, the United Nations Assembly proclaimed Nov. 2 as the “International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists” (IDEI) in commemoration of the murder of two French journalists in Mali. The proclamation seeks to encourage member states to help prevent violence against journalists, bring perpetrators to justice and ensure that victims have access to care.

“Impunity has been the fuel for the endemic problem of violence against journalists around the world and the international community should work together to change this situation,” Alves said. “This event provides the opportunity for the international community to focus public attention on the importance of ensuring safety and justice for journalists.”

According to UNESCO, 700 journalists worldwide have been killed for reporting the news and bringing information to public information during the past decade — averaging one death every week. In nine out of 10 cases, the killers remain unpunished.

Other MOOCs offered by the Knight Center have aimed at strengthening journalism practices and the rights of journalists across the world. In the last three years, 62,000 people from 160 countries have registered in 19 MOOCs offered by the Moody College Knight Center.

“Acknowledging IDEI as an international day of awareness will strengthen the safety of journalists,” Alves said. “We do this by bringing their killers to justice by calling on journalists, professionals, media outlets, Internet intermediaries and social media practitioners to unite and support the cause.”

The panel discussion was held at the ECOSOC Chamber at the UN Headquarters in New York City. 

Lauren Phillips
Public Affairs Representative