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Letter from the Dias

Dear Delegates, Assalam o alaikum! Just so you know I HATE writing about myself, So with Rizwan barraging me with angry messages and the deadline to have this thing done just round the corner, I had to get going. Here goes nothing: My name is Haseeb Ikram and I feel honored to be serving as your chairperson for the United Nations Human Rights Council at FROMUN2011. I look forward to three very exciting days of intense debates, diplomacy and hopefully an entertaining committee. I have completed my A levels from beaconhouse, margalla campus in Islamabad and plan to go to ANU Australia in February to major in economics along with a minor in political science. I have a love for Model United Nations having attended and won several awards. I warmly welcome yall to UNHRC- one of the most stimulating committees of the UN. As this committee forms an integral part of the structure of the United Nations, I hope to direct and simulate the committee sessions in a manner that seeks to reach compromises and helps to work towards finding productive and practical solutions to the urgent problems faced by the world today. Along with my Co-Director, Ali Tahir, I will be looking forward to an energetic debate full of diplomacy and hard work. Delegates should be well researched regarding the issues at hand particularly about their country positions. Feel free to contact me or Ali tahir for any help in the research. My aim is to make this committee one of the most unforgettable experiences of your lives. I hope that each and every delegate at FROMUN11 gains something memorable and worthwhile out of this experience. Here is to spirited debates, new friendships, and the hilarious incidents which will invariably crop up during committee sessions. ;] Regards, Haseeb Ikram: haseeb_ikram_92@

Dear Delegates, My name is Ali Tahir and I feel honored to be serving as your committee director for the United Nations Human Rights Council at the Froebels Model United Nations (FROMUN) 2011. I am greatly looking forward to three exciting days of debating, diplomacy and resolution making. For a brief background, I am currently completing my Alevels at Westminster; with plans to major in micro physics. I have been active in debater for more than 4 years now, having attended numerous conferences including LUMUN, BMUN, RMUN, GIMUN, and the very recent ROTMUN. I have thoroughly enjoyed opportunities to discuss major international

issues with people from around the world and have been successful in claiming a significant number of awards. The Human Rights Council, at FROMUN this year will be focusing on one very pertinent topic, the guide for which is provided to you below. I am sure you will find the topic very engaging and thought-provoking. Go through the research guides very thoroughly and extensive research is something I need not request you to carry out. I will be expecting all position papers by 20thSeptember 2011. Feel free to email me if you have any questions or concerns, or would just like to introduce yourselves. I am excited for a heated debate and look forward to meeting you all. Regards, Ali Tahir

Background on the Committee

The United Nations General Assembly established the Human Rights Council on 15 March 2006 to replace the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) which was heavily criticized for allowing countries with poor human right records to be members. It is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations. This body was preceded by the Commission on Human Rights which was organized into the HRC. The Council has 47 seats. To become a member, a country must receive the votes of at least 96 of the 191 states of the UN General Assembly (an absolute majority). During the election process the General Assembly members review the candidate countrys contribution to the promotion of human rights and its dedication to upholding them. The election requirement was included as way to improve membership. The UNHRC is committed to promoting and maintaining universal ideals

of human dignity. Its work includes preventing human rights violations, securing respect for all human rights, promoting international cooperation to protect human rights, making recommendations to the General Assembly for further developing international law with regard to human rights, and undertaking a Universal Periodic Review of each State with respect to its fulfillment of its human rights obligations and commitments. One year after its birth the committee adopted its institution binding package which provides elements to guide it in its future work. One of the primary elements was the Universal Periodic Review mechanism, which is supposed to assess human rights situations in all 192 member states of the UN. Another element of the Advisory Committee which serves as the councils think thank is to provide it with expertise on global human rights issues. The HCR also has a complaints procedure which allows individuals and organizations to bring any concerns about human rights violations to its attention.

Rights of journalist and human right activists

Media plays an enormously important role in the protection of human rights. They expose human rights violations and offer an arena for different voices to be heard in public discourse. Not without reason, media have been called the Fourth Estate an essential addition to the powers of the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. The FRMOUN 2011 Human Rights Council is requested to address to the issue of ethical journalism, self regulation, and future mode of action. This research guide highlights the close relationship between ethics of journalism and human rights standards enshrined notably in major international treaties, the changes taking place in the current digital media, along with a number of major legal restraints on journalism and lastly practical means by which ethical journalism may materialize.


Ethically, watchdog journalism is how reporters, editors and others provide commentary on the events that shape peoples lives. It is rooted in moral values. When journalists aspire to tell stories based upon truth-telling, accuracy and fairness; when they seek to minimize harm; and when they make themselves accountable to peers and the wider community, they define the essential elements of what we might call journalism as a public good. Good journalism can remind us of moral responsibilities and reinforce our attachment to acceptable standards of behavior and, in this sense; it is an ally of everyone striving for democracy and human rights protection. Today journalism and human rights intersect at a moment of remarkable and historical change. In an era of globalization and the explosion of digital media, the information landscape is being redrawn, posing new questions about journalism, human rights and information policy. Today people have more opportunities to exercise their freedom of expression than ever before, but how do they take responsibility for their views? How do people judge what is reliable information? How do media and journalists continue to shape norms and contribute to building a new ethic of information that includes everyone when tendency is towards fractured, anonymous communications? And, not least, how can media policy, rather than law, become an instrument for creating an information environment that respects ethical norms, including respect for human rights?

Human rights standards relevant for journalism

To explore the linkage between ethics of journalism and human rights we need to ask how they both link to values, morality and the law. This is not an intellectual exercise. For people in journalism it is directly relevant to their world of action and the choices they face in their work. Human rights are enshrined in the treaties between states, particularly the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR, 1948), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR, 1966) and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR, 1950) which guarantee the rights of all persons within the jurisdiction of the contracting parties. These rights are enshrined in law and in practice, as with the exercise of journalism, they are closely linked to the moral climate in which we live. Article 10 states that everyone has the right to free expression. But this is a qualified right and may be overridden by decisions taken in the interest of such matters as national security, prevention of disorder or crime, protection of an individuals reputation. Some journalist, perhaps most, may be driven by ideals of humanity, but they are unable to act according to their own personal conscience. They are often constrained by limits on their freedom imposed by undue political or corporate

influence or by the application of law. This stifling atmosphere not only leads to self-censorship, it intimidates and silences the sources upon which journalism depends. Even worse, journalists are victims of violence. Over the past 20 years more than 2,000 have been targeted and murdered. Some of Europes most distinguished writers and journalists have been killed, many of them victims of political enemies when alive and victims of political indifference when dead with evidence of widespread impunity. However, the power of the media can also be misused to the extent that the very functioning of democracy is threatened. Some media have been turned into propaganda megaphones for those in power. Other media outlets have been used to incite xenophobic hatred and violence against minorities and other vulnerable groups of people. It also happens that media unnecessarily and unfairly abuse the privacy and integrity of ordinary people through sheer carelessness and sensationalism and thereby cause considerable damage to individuals - for no good purpose at all. It is obvious that freedom of expression though an absolutely basic human right is not without limits. The European Convention on Human Rights makes clear that restrictions may be necessary in the interest of, for instance, national security and public safety. However, the exceptions from the basic rule about everyones right to freedom of expression must be prescribed by law, serve a legitimate interest and be necessary in a democracy. Questions about how journalists work and the Medias capacity to provide accurate, reliable and timely information on human rights issues are at the heart of this committee. It fires the opening shots in a fresh debate between journalists and human rights activists and others about the role of media in modern society.

Free expression in the shadows: legal restraints on journalism

In order to combat corruption and to monitor public affairs journalists need access to useful and reliable information. Their job has been made easier over the past decade as dozens of countries have passed laws guaranteeing people access to government information. Around 70 nations, covering more than half the worlds population, have freedom of information laws. But despite history and the recent information revolution, some countries display limp and inadequate commitment to the publics right to know. Often campaigners achieve a legal breakthrough only to meet resistance from political and official institutions which construct bureaucratic obstacles to transparency. One report from the BBC revealed that official reaction to public

enthusiasm for access to information can lead to heavy fees or a reduction in the number of staff available to deal with requests leading to lengthy delays in providing requested information. At the same time, concerns about security and terrorism have led to a narrowing of available information with an increasing list of exceptions to what must be released. Such restrictions are spread through international institutions. The manipulation of information to suit national interests, or military and strategic objectives, particularly in time of war, is the banal reality of a journalists working life. As the political response to coverage of the military strikes on Afghanistan shows, no reporters even top drawer correspondents of the BBC, CNN or other international media are immune from political bullying to serve their governments definition of the national interest. The best of journalists scorn and repudiate this sort of pressure. In the same way, campaigns against the worst of evil doing terrorism, modern forms of slavery, child exploitation, torture, extra-judicial killing, and incitement to genocide and racism are not exempt from journalistic questioning and media scrutiny. Nor should they be. Therein lies the reason for so much of the bafflement and dismay that descends upon politicians, the human rights community, and hard working NGOs when they consider media coverage of the human rights story. For many journalists, blasphemy laws are particularly difficult to navigate, especially when they provide special protection for the core beliefs of a particular religion, but do not extend the same immunity to other beliefs, including ideas based upon a secular view of the world. In many countries where there was or is still a strong link between religion and the state, the law only protects one religion. The United Nations Human Rights Council regularly adopts resolutions calling for defamation of religion laws and, even in Europe, threats to unwary journalists remain.

The right to privacy

The issue arises when journalists do not accept that privacy should become a protective cover for secrecy when matters of public interest are at stake. The right to respect for private life, including privacy, is a human right, like freedom of expression. Article 8 of the ECHR determines that. But in many countries this fundamental right is abused by state institutions. In countries ruled by totalitarian and military regimes invasions of privacy routinely intersect with violations of other fundamental rights and freedoms including media freedom. Journalists, who are nowadays subject to official surveillance on an unprecedented scale, should be among the first to demand protection for privacy rights, but serious media worry when too rigorous application of privacy rules may make it close to impossible for them to publish anything touching on the fundamental aspects of a persons private life such as their family life, sexual behavior, orientation or medical conditions and show that such publication is in the public interest. Certainly, it is impossible to ignore the need for more effective self-regulation in this area. The recent controversy in the United Kingdom over illegal telephone

hacking by journalists, for instance, has raised a question about the credibility of media which claimed to have eliminated the practice and then were exposed as having misled both Parliament and their own Press Complaints Commission on the matter. In the end, what constitutes the public interest? is what defines the rights of journalists to ask questions and file stories.

Protection of sources, security and terrorism

Nearly 100 countries have adopted specific legal provision for journalists to protect their sources, either in the general laws or within constitutional protections for free speech. In at least 20 countries those protections are near absolute. In countries without any legal cover, journalists are more open to coercion to divulge their sources, but in many democratic states exceptions that undermine this right are being extended while political and legal pressures are increasing, often on the back of concerns about national security. Generally, the courts do not give reporters an absolute right to protect their sources and in recent years there have been numerous cases, some in the name of counter terrorism, where the authorities have applied pressure, both open and covert, to obtain confidential material in the hands of reporters. In 2007 the International Federation of Journalists challenged the governments of the United States, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Denmark over telephone tapping, planting spies in newsrooms, judicial intimidation and mischievous prosecution of reporters to unearth information about their contacts.
Many of these actions have been made easier by the widening war on terrorism and the cloak of security, which has raised concerns about weakening of civil liberties. Journalists worry, rightly, that these are not isolated cases. There is a need to recognize certain circumstances for exceptions to the principle of protection of sources, but they argue these should be applied in strictly controlled circumstances. there is a serious threat to the physical integrity of the persons, the information sought is crucial to prevent any harm to the physical integrity of people, and the information required cannot be obtained by any other means.

The change for journalism

Spectacular advances in digital media have changed the way journalists work and the way traditional media are organized. They have made newsgathering and dissemination of information global and there is a dynamic new space for dialogue and interaction with the audience. This is good news for freedom of expression, but at the same time a deep economic crisis has blown

media off course, particularly in the press. Newspapers across Europe have struggled to adapt to structural change, technological convergence and the rise of the Internet. New forms of communication and online services provide fresh challenges. Socalled "citizen journalism" and the growth of networked journalism legitimize the use of amateurs in a weakened media industry. Within journalism these new debates are also reigniting discussions about the quality and objectivity of public service media and not least about guaranteeing editorial independence. In some countries such media, particularly broadcasting, are seen as instruments of propaganda. Confidence in public media is very low. The WikiLeaks incident at the end of 2010, when distinguished journalists on five of the worlds leading newspapers The New York Times, The Guardian, El Pais, Le Monde and Der Spiegel were asked to filter thousands of detailed documents leaked from diplomatic sources in the United States, proved beyond doubt that the future of ethical journalism is secure in a world where people are increasingly overwhelmed by information from an abundance of sources, most of which they cannot trust. The information challenge, therefore, is not just about journalism or the people who work in media. It is necessary to open dialogues within journalism and between civil society, media practitioners and policymakers and to reach out to humanitarian forms of thought from all sections of society, representing all cultures and communities.

Human rights activists

Human rights defenders face a number of challenges to their security situation, which impede their work. In the most recent report by the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, several crucial issues were outlined. One of them is human right defenders stigmatization, which involves the characterization of more and more human rights defenders as terrorists or political opponents, thus making their peaceful work appear as delegitimized. Another issue is the unlawful prosecution of defenders whereby many human rights defenders have been prosecuted or imprisoned on the base of false charges. Additionally, ambiguous laws have been used by states to detain and arrest human rights defenders, even without any charges. Often, their rights for a fair trial have been denied and instead of federal authorities securing the defenders right for a fair trial, they themselves impede those rights. Another important aspect that has to be taken into consideration is gender-based violence against defenders (women are more often subjected to some forms of violence, including rape and sexual harassment).

Bringing structure to your debate

The committee is expected to bring into focus three elements of the shifting sands

of international policy governing media and rights. First, superficially at least, the evolution of government language in relation to human rights and the elaboration of strategies that have pushed humanitarian intervention. Second, the evolution of human rights law over the past ten years poses new challenges for policymakers, not least in the glacial progress towards establishment of an international system of justice to bring to trial those guilty of serious violations of fundamental rights. Thirdly, the impact of technical and corporate changes in the global media landscape has affected the work of journalists, media content and the news agenda, particularly the way news media deal with human rights. How well, accurately, fairly and consistently do the media cover human rights issues? How well do the media integrate human rights issues into their coverage of international affairs? To what extent are they influenced in their coverage by factors such as their own economic interests or their sense of what their audiences interests are? Do human rights gain or lose (compared to other themes) in the internal editorial decision-making process? How are stories chosen and prioritized? What is newsworthy?

Questions the resolution should answer

How can the issue of ethical journalism be addressed in a comprehensive manner? How can the issue of oppression against/by against human rights activists and journalist be dealt? How can existing efforts be strengthened? At what level can violence be addressed most effectively; local national international? What are the mechanisms that can ensure the non-stigmatization of the medias human rights defenders work? What are the measures that can provide support to media and limit unlawful imprisonment/prosecution? How can more awareness be raised within countries and on an international level for both journalists and human rights defenders? Is it possible for protection programs to be developed for both journalists and human rights defenders? What should these protection programs consist of? And most importantly is government intervention or control necessary of is self regulation the way to go about it?

Further material to aid your research

1) Article 13 of the Hague Regulations, part of the 4th Hague Convention 1907 & Article 4A of the Third Convention of 1949 under International humanitarian law According to Article 13 of the Hague Regulations, reporters who go with the military army, but do not belong to it, shall be treated as prisoners of war. The only condition for this treatment to be fulfilled is the possession of a reporters authorization document, issued by the military authorities.

Article 4A not only required an analogous treatment, but also gave reporters the status of prisoners of war. Reporters are defined as people, who can accompany the military army without actually being member of it. 2) Article 79 of the Additional Protocol I 1977 to the Geneva Convention 1949 Article 79 aims to protect the rights of journalists and rapporteurs in areas of armed conflict. Accordingly, journalists in areas of armed conflict shall be considered as civilians and shall have the same rights to protection as civilians. 3) Resolution 29, Condemnation of violence against journalists (General Conference 29th Session, Paris, 1997) According to this resolution, any crime against journalists shall be considered as a crime against society since it curtails the freedom of speech within a society. Also, it calls on Member States to implement certain measures in order to implement legislation that allows the prosecution of individuals that instigate attacks toward journalists. 4) Commission on Human Rights, Resolution 61/2000 It calls for the appointment of a Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders by the UN Secretary-General for the purpose of ensuring protection of human rights defenders within countries; to ensure a better cooperation with governments for the protection of human rights defenders and to examine and respond to information regarding the situation of human rights defenders within countries. 5) Resolution 1738 of the Security Council (2006) Security Council Condemns Attacks against Journalists in Conflict Situations It urges all Member States to prevent journalists from any violence and condemns any intentional attacks towards them. Also, the resolution recalls that journalists in armed conflicts have the status of civilians and shall be treated and protected as such under international humanitarian law. 6) Medellin Declaration (2007) The document, among others, emphasizes the need to investigate all crimes committed to journalists and reporters as well as to ensure appropriate prevention. 7) Declaration on the Safety of Journalists on the 4th World Electronic Media Forum in Mexico City, 13 November 2009 The participants of the forum called for international action and strong cooperation between nations in order to address properly the increasing murders of journalists and reporters around the world. They reminded everyone that a society cannot be completely free if the freedom of expression is not guaranteed. Governments are the main arbiters, which must protect the lives of their citizens, including journalists, protect their rights and ensure the lawful prosecution of any individual(s) who violate those rights. All in all and as mentioned above, the legal framework used for addressing the

issue of human rights defenders is very limited and further development might strengthen it and ensure better protection of their rights. Furthermore, all the relevant conventions regarding journalists have not managed to strongly influence and reduce the overall number of the violations committed against them. Thus, a new effort needs to be made in this direction also. UNESCO UNESCO is another international agency, addressing the problem of human rights defenders and journalists. This is an agency of United Nations that has a mandate to protect the freedom of expression. The agency aims at collaboration on an international level for the promotion of mass media, mass communication, freedom of opinion and of ideas, and freedom of expression. Some of the well-known non-governmental organizations, dealing especially with the protection of journalists are listed below: The International Federation of Journalists It focuses on threatened journalists and provides them with legislation and material. The organization has established a Safety Fund that publishes a safety manual. The Committee to Protect Journalists This organization maintains a special impunity index for all countries that have shown inability to react on numerous murders of journalists, reporters etc. for the past ten years. Reporters without Borders On its website the organization maintains a press freedom barometers that shows the number of killed journalists as well as number of journalists, being held in jail. Also, the organization has uploaded a special map that marks countries where there is a threat against mass media and freedom of expression. The International Press Institute The organization deals with cases of murdered journalists and cases of journalists that face denial of justice. The International Freedom of Expression Exchange This is a network of 88 regional and national organizations all over the world, which work for the promotion and protection of freedom of expression.

By the Committee Directors of UNHRC Frobels Model United Nations 2011

ons Human

Rights Council