Conflict sensitivejournalism:best practices andrecommendations

Conflict sensitivejournalism:best practices andrecommendationsKyiv 2016

УДК 341.64(4):347.9(477)ББК 67.9(4)412 67.9(4Укр)7Ф94BUROMENSKY Mykhailo, SHTURKHETSKY Serhiy, BEALS Emma, KAZANJI Zoya, BETZMichelle, SCHUEPP ChrisConflict sensitive journalism: best practices and recommendations: Посібник рекомендацій для працівників ЗМІ. - К.: «Компанія ВАІТЕ», 2016. - 118 с.ISBN 978-966-2310-52-8This handbook is a compilation of recommendations for media professionals on howto cover conflict and its consequences. The book includes several sections highlightingsuch topics as journalists’ safety in a conflict environment, international standards andpractices of conflict-sensitive journalism, tips on working with conflict-affected groups,etc.The book is designed for journalists, freelancers, fixers, editors, university professors andstudents – all those interested in conflict-sensitive journalism.The publishing is made within the project “Supporting Conflict-Sensitive Journalism inUkraine” implemented by the OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine with the financialsupport of the British Embassy in Kyiv.Handbook is published with support of the International Media Support (IMS) NGO. Buromensky Mykhailo, Shturkhetsky Serhiy, Beals Emma, Kazanji Zoya, Betz Michelle,Schuepp Chris, 2016The views expressed herein are solely those of the authors and contributors and do notnecessarily reflect the official position of the OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine.This publication was produced with assistance from the International Media Support (IMS).The ideas and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the attributed personsand editors. They are not necessarily those of the International Media Support (IMS).www.mediasupport.orgThis publication is a part of the project “Supporting Conflict Sensitive Journalismin Ukraine”, supported by the UK government and implemented by the OSCE ProjectCoordinator in Ukraine. The views expressed in it are those of the authors and may notcoincide with the official position of the UK government.

Table of contentsTABLE OF CONTENTSAuthors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11Section 1. Safety of Journalists Working in Conflict-affectedAreas and Covering Combat Operations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13Section 2. Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39Section 3. Journalists’ Interaction with Conflict-affected Groups.Humanitarian communications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51Section 5. The Role of the Media in Distributing VitalHumanitarian Information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67Section 5. Glossary of terms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81Annexes: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 893

AuthorsAUTHORSMykhailo BuromenskyMykhailo Buromensky is JD, Professor at theInternational Law Department, National Yaroslav MudryLaw Academy. Mr. Buromensky has authored over 180academic articles, monographs, manuals in internationallaw, the most significant ones being “Ukrainian Doctrineof Correlation between International and NationalLaw” (2013); “Ukraine’s International Cooperation inPreventing and Combating Crime” (2013); “Theory andPractice of International Criminal Law Formation andUkrainian Criminal Legislation” (2012); “Implementationof the International Law Provisions in Ukraine’sConstitutional Law” (2011); “European Convention onHuman Rights: Key Provisions, Case Law, UkrainianContext”; “Social and Legal Challenges to Prevention of Immigration-relatedCrimes”; “Compatibility of Ukrainian Law and Practices with the Requirementsof the European Convention on Human Rights (Articles 3,5,6, 10, 13 and 1 and 3 ofProtocol #1” (2001); “Political Regimes of States in International Law (Influenceof International Law on States’ Political Regimes)” (1997); “Fundamentals of theInternational Law Concept of Democracy” (1995); “Human Rights” (co-author,1997); “International Law. Handbook” (2005, 2009); “International Protection ofHuman Rights and Rights of Refugees. Handbook” (2012); “International andNational Protection of Human Rights and Rights of Refugees” (2004).5

Conflict sensitive journalism: best practices and recommendationsMr. Buromensky has cooperated as an international or national expertwith various international organizations (UNDP, UNHCR, WHO, EU, OSCE). Asa UN legal expert he participated in the UN Mission to Georgia (Abkhazia) –UNOMIG. In 2009-2013, Mr. Buromensky represented Ukraine in the EuropeanCourt of Human Rights as an ad hoc judge. In 2006-2012 he was a member ofUkraine’s delegation to the Council of Europe Group of States against corruption– GRECO, and from 2007 to 2013 – of the Special ad hoc Group of Experts onnavigational and hydrographical support to navigation during negotiationsbetween Ukraine and the Russian Federation.He has regularly chaired steering committees and working groups ofresearchers and experts to support and promote the legal and judicial reformsin Ukraine. Mr. Buromensky is an active member of the ConstitutionalCommission.Serhiy ShturkhetskyJournalist and media expert, Serhiy Shtirkhetskyis a member of the Independent Media Trade Union ofUkraine, member of the Journalist Ethics Commission,and Associate Professor of the Journalism Department atthe National University of Ostroh Academy. In journalismsince 1999, he has worked as a newspaper deputy editorin-chief and author of television programmes. For morethan 10 years he has been dealing with journalist safety,for the last two years – at the Joint Journalist SafetyCentre, where, assisted by the International Federationof Journalists, he has trained over 200 journalists towork in extreme conditions. He has co-authored 5training manuals for journalists and numerous trainingprogrammes. He undertook internships in the US, UK, Poland, Germany,Russian Federation, Belgium, and Slovakia.6

AuthorsEmma BealsJournalist/freelancer from New Zealand/UK, EmmaBeals spends most of her time in Southern Turkey,focusing on Syria. Emma has worked as a freelancersince 1998, successfully combining it with the job of aUK Government consultant on media relations (2005through 2011) and being active in the sphere of journalistsafety development. It all started with the establishingof a Frontline Freelance Register. The organisationhelped more than 500 journalists to advance theirprofessionalism, and built their capacity to work safelyin hot spots. Miss Beals’ main focus has been the world’shottest spots – Syria and Iraq. She has been activelycovering conflict development in these countries since2011, cooperating as a photographer and journalist with the Guardian, USA Today,Al Jazeera English, VICE, The Daily Beast, Foreign Policy, Fairfax NZ, GraziaMagazine, Newsweek, The Atlantic, National Post, Arab News, and HuffingtonPost, and as a special live reporter for the Yahoo News, HuffPost Live, AriseNews, TV3 Frontline, and Radio New Zealand. This experience has promptedEmma to help other journalists and staff of humanitarian organisations – sheparticipated in the search for all the journalists taken prisoner in Syria.Today, Emma continues working on journalist safety and helps to provideinformation and develop operational plans for addressing crisis situations inEgypt, Central African Republic, Ukraine, and Syria. In 2014, Emma co-foundedACOS Alliance designed to develop training programmes on safety and conductconferences on enhancement of standards in journalism.7

Conflict sensitive journalism: best practices and recommendationsZoya KazanjiJournalist and communications expert, Zoya Kazanjihas worked in the media for over 20 years. She has madeher career from a reporter to the editor-in-chief of aweekly newspaper. She has got experience of working inthe government institutions related to communications.Now she is a communications consultant within aprogramme implemented by the Communication ReformGroup (Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine).Since 2003 she has worked as a media trainer andmedia consultant. Zoya has developed two trainingcurricula on media content, PR and governmentcommunications.Ms Kazanji authored and published three methodology guides – two oninteractive trainings in journalism, and one on communications in centralpublic agencies and local self-governments.Ms Kazanji studied at Kyiv Taras Shevchenko National University, Instituteof the World Bank with financial support of the British Ministry for InternationalDevelopment, Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR).In 2014-2015, she worked as an advisor to the Head of Odessa Oblast StateAdministration, focusing on communications and humanitarian policies.Odessa oblast was the first to face the problem of accepting and integratingIDPs from the Crimean Autonomous Republic, including military personneland their family members. At that time, Ukrainian authorities and societylacked understanding of the scope and nature of the problem at hand, formalapproaches to addressing it, necessary resources and regulatory framework.All these things had to be learnt in the process – from setting up receptioncentres, to databases of needs and capacities, and control systems.While working on the project of reforming government communications,Zoya took part in a Situation Room designed to deal with IDPs’ issues. MsKazanji actively contributed to various programmes of analysing needs of andproviding support to IDPs.8

AuthorsMichelle BetzMichelle Betz is a senior media developmentconsultant with more than 20 years of experienceas a journalist, educator and international mediadevelopment consultant. Her areas of specialism includethe role of media in conflict, peace building and conflictresolution. She is an active researcher and is a co- authorof numerous books.After six years of teaching at the University of CentralFlorida, where she also launched and managed an awardwinning radio station, Ms Betz moved overseas to pursuemedia development and spent most of the past ten yearsin Ghana, Egypt and Austria. She recently moved back tothe United States.Ms Betz has consulted for OSCE, UNESCO, the U.S. State Department,International Media Support, Open Society Institute and numerous otherorganizations. In 2003, Ms Betz was awarded a Knight International JournalismFellowship and spent four months working with journalists in Rwanda. MsBetz was awarded a second Knight International Press Fellowship in 2005 andspent five months in Morocco training journalists.Ms Betz received a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from theUniversity of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada (1990). She then achieveda Master of Journalism from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada (1994).Chris SchueppChris Schuepp studied journalism in Dortmund(Masters Degree in 2000), worked as a journalist forTV and radio stations before joining the InternationalMedia Support NGO as Country Director in Kyrgyzstan(2000/2001). He worked as a consultant for UNICEF onyouth and media issues, as participatory story-tellingtrainer and social media manager from 2002 to 2015. MrSchuepp organized and facilitated media workshopswith children and young people on children’s issuesand development issues in 50 countries worldwide,including Afghanistan, South Sudan and Bangladesh. Heworked as Humanitarian Liaison Officer with Internewsin Ukraine from September 2015 to March 2016, bringingtogether the international humanitarian sector and the local Ukrainianjournalists to improve information for the conflict-affected population inEastern Ukraine. Now he is back with UNICEF as Youth EmpowermentConsultant in Eastern Ukraine. Speaks German, English and Russian.9

INTRODUCTIONINTRODUCTIONYou can only hope to find a lasting solution to a conflict if you havelearned to see the other objectively, but at the same time to experiencehis difficulties subjectively.Dag HammarskjoldIn countries affected by conflict and severe human insecurity, such asUkraine, the media have an important role to play as an active promoter ofhuman rights and democratisation, as well as a facilitator of conflict reductionand resolution through the gathering and dissemination of non-partisaninformation.The traditional role of “good” journalism is to enable the public to make wellinformed decisions. However, good journalism is difficult work at the best oftimes. In a society threatened by violent conflict, journalists face much greaterdifficulties. They operate in a climate of fear and threats and with opposingsides seeking to control the media.But covering a conflict is also when good journalism is most important. Inconflict situations, the role of the media is critical in providing the public withfull, reliable and non-partisan information. The approaches and methods ofconflict sensitive journalism allow the media to provide the public with morecomprehensive, neutral and accurate information on the conflicts.Ultimately, our job as journalists is to tell stories: stories of people, real peoplewho are often living in horrific situations. But how can we do so in extremely11

Conflict sensitive journalism: best practices and recommendationschallenging, emotionally and dangerous contexts? What international standardsand best practices exist for journalists covering conflict?Many of these standards are based on the most essential of journalismethical standards such as accuracy, impartiality, fairness and balance whileothers have grown from an increasing awareness of the tenets of conflictsensitive journalism. Good journalism should be accurate, impartial, balancedand responsible so that: Accuracy Impartiality Responsibility Reliability.Reliability comes down to our own credibility. Our credibility as media duringconflict is our currency if we destroy that credibility we have nothing and mayas well stop doing our jobs. We need to earn that credibility and then maintain it.Conflict sensitive journalism empowers reporters to report conflictsprofessionally without feeding the flames of conflict. Conflict sensitivejournalism means that we report in depth, cover all sides and allow for anopportunity for those involved to ventilate all issues related to the conflict. Inhis important work on conflict sensitive journalism, Ross Howard outlined theresponsibilities we, as journalists have, in reporting conflict.They include: Duty to understand conflict Duty to report fairly Duty to report background and causes of conflicts Duty to present the human side Duty to report on peace efforts Duty to recognize our influenceRoss Howard, Conflict-sensitive journalism. International Media Support(IMS) and IMPACS: 2/11/ims-csjhandbook-2004.pdfHow to cover the battlefield responsively, remembering about safety of yourteam, your own as well as that of your sources?How should a journalist work with communities that suffer as the resultof the conflict, abnd how to interview vulnerable groups such as internallydisplaced persons, children, etc.?How a journalist can help to find and distribute important humanitarianinformation?How to avoid manipulations in your work, and how to avoid beingmanipulated?In this handbook we try to look at best international standards, and practicesthat are applied in Ukrainian realities.12

Safety of JournalistsSection 1SAFETY OF JOURNALISTSWORKING IN CONFLICTAFFECTED AREAS ANDCOVERING COMBATOPERATIONSAuthors:Serhiy Shturkhetsky,Mykhailo Buromensky,Emma Beals1.1. International Standards and PracticesIn a time of armed conflict, whether international or local, the media has gota crucial role to play. Given that in wartime there are practically no operationalcivil society organizations to control public authorities and armed forces,journalists become the main (if not the only) source of unbiased and objectiveinformation. As a result, a lot of journalists today practice military journalism- a dangerous occupation that requires being in the centre of events connectedwith deaths, violence, risk to their own lives. An international organization“Committee to Protect Journalists” keeps sad statistics on media professionalskilled on duty. In 2014, the majority of such cases were registered in Syria, Iraq,Ukraine, Israel, Somalia, and Pakistan.13

Although in the armed conflict zones journalists are protected byinternational and national law, one should not rely solely on this protectivemechanism. Protection could be guaranteed only if the conflicting partiesadhere to the internationally recognized rules of warfare – which is not alwaysthe case. One should also consider psychological and mental condition of thearmed persons engaged in the conflict. At the same time, the importance ofthe international humanitarian law must never be underestimated, because itstipulates the journalists’ rights and protects them in the armed conflict zone.Journalists’ rights and duties in the armed conflict zones are laid down by theInternational Humanitarian Law (IHL) (or International Law of Armed Conflict)recognized, for the most part, by all countries of the world. The Hague Conventionsand Declarations of 1899 and 1907 (the so-called Hague Law), the 1949 GenevaConvention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War and the1977 Additional Protocols to it (Geneva Law), pertinent UN General AssemblyResolutions are key documents in this domain. In a broader sense, the HagueLaw addresses the rules and customs of warfare, and sets restrictions to the useof weapons. The Geneva Law establishes protections for those who are in andaround a conflict zone, but do not participate in the conflict – civilian population,the wounded, prisoners of war, etc. Of special importance is the customaryinternational humanitarian law, the main provisions of which were collected in astudy sponsored by the International Committee of the Red Cross in kr-irrc 857 henckaerts.pdfJournalists’ rights in the armed conflict area are specified in the 1907Convention respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land, the 1949Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, and in the 1st AdditionalProtocol to the Geneva Convention relating to the Protection of Victims ofInternational Armed Conflicts: 222; 199.There are three categories of journalists who can work in the armed conflictareas and who are protected under the international humanitarian law: War correspondents; Journalists on dangerous professional missions in armed conflict zones; Journalists who are embedded with military units.According to the 1st Additional Protocol to the Geneva Convention of 12August 1949, the document that attests to an individual’s status as a journalistis a press card issued by the government of the State of which the journalistis a national or in whose territory they reside or in which the news mediumemploying them is located.According to Article 4 А (4) of the 1949 Convention relative to the Treatmentof Prisoners of War [1], war correspondents are representatives of the massmedia who have accreditation with the armed forces, accompany militaryformations without actually being members thereof. The legal status of war

Safety of Journalistscorrespondents is special in that they accompany military units in this officialstatus, which is certified by the accreditation document. By issuing thisdocument, the government takes up the responsibility to ensure the journalist’ssafety as long as the latter observes the accreditation rules. The accreditationdocument also stipulates the military commander’s obligation to cooperatewith the journalist exercising their professional duty.As per the 1st Additional Protocol to the Geneva Convention, in the case ofcapture, war correspondents enjoy all the rights of prisoners-of-war (POW), dueto their formal right to accompany military formations. Should any doubt ariseas to the status of a person claiming the POW status, such persons should enjoythe protection of the international humanitarian law until such time as theirstatus has been determined by a competent tribunal (1949 Convention relativeto the Treatment of Prisoners of War, Article 5).The concept of a journalist embedded with a military unit is very similar tothe one mentioned above. This concept is believed to have emerged during the2003 Iraqi War, though it has not yet been clearly defined in legal terms. In fact,it is just a means to get the war correspondent status, i.e. to be accredited and,thus, entitled to protections under Article 4 A (4) of the 1949 Convention relativeto the Treatment of Prisoners of War.Screenshot of the website “Committee to Protect Journalists”. Sad statistics on thejournalists who died on duty during 2014.

Conflict sensitive journalism: best practices and recommendationsThe 1st Additional Protocol of 8 June 1977 to the Geneva Convention of12 August 1949 relating to the Protection of Victims of International ArmedConflicts treats journalists on dangerous professional missions in the armedconflict areas as civilians in the context of Paragraph 1, Article 50 thereof.As such, they are protected under the Convention relative to the Protectionof Civilian Persons in Time of War, provided they take no action adverselyaffecting their status as civilians, i.e. do not participate in combat operations,do not use weapons, and do not engage in intelligence activities. However, evenif a journalist turns out to be involved in such activities, it does not mean thatthey acquire a status of “combatant” — “the one who fights”. Strict requirementsto combatants are clearly specified in the 1949 Geneva Conventions and 1977Additional Protocols. Most probably, such activities would lead to lifting thejournalist’s protection under the international humanitarian law for the periodof their engaging in such activities. They could also be accused of committing acrime since, according to the international humanitarian law, only combatantsmay participate in combat operations.The international humanitarian law makes no provisions regardingindividuals who are not employed by any media agency and work as freelancers,although it does not explicitly prohibit freelance reporters to work in conflictzones. Presumably, by virtue of their profession, freelance journalists also mayenjoy general protections applicable to civilian population in the combat zone.Importance of accreditation. It is advisable to have accreditation forworking in the Anti-terrorist Operation (ATO) zone. Ukrainian legislation doesnot require mandatory accreditation in the armed conflict zone, but it would betoo difficult to work in the conflict zone without it. Journalists should betterget accredited for security reasons as well. The authority in charge of journalistaccreditation in the ATO zone is the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU).Of late, it has been a growing trend for governments to toughen theiraccreditation requirements. For example, the US armed forces introducedstricter rules during the 1990-1991 Gulf War, which in a way restricted journalists’work, but as a result not a single media professional was killed then, in contrastto the Vietnam War. On the other hand, there should be a reasonable balancebetween satisfying the wartime needs and observing the norms that guaranteeproper fulfilment by the media of its functions in a democratic society. Strictterms of the press accreditation imposed by military commanders make it verydifficult for the journalists to cover the conflict from the standpoint of theirprofessional culture and ethical standards.Article 15 of the Law of Ukraine “On State Support for the Media and SocialProtection of Journalists” nd Article 25 of the Law of Ukraine “On Information” ( have similar provisions entitling media agenciesto send journalists “to the zones of armed conflicts, terroristic attacks,liquidation of dangerous criminal groups”, and stipulating the journalists’obligations regarding the use of information obtained in such zones, namely:16

Safety of Journalistsnon-disclosure of special forces’ plans or pre-trial investigation data; avoidingpropaganda of terrorist and other criminal groups’ activities and statementsspecially designed for the media; never acting as an arbitrator or intruding intoan incident; never creating artificial psychological tensions in the society.The media agencies that have sent journalists to the conflict zones or gotthem embedded with military units bear full responsibility for them, whichhowever does not deny the journalists a right to act on their own initiative.NB: The Ministry of Defence of Ukraine in cooperation with theMinistry of Information Policy is currently running an «EmbeddedJournalists» programme. The journalists are attached to certainmilitary units. The programme covers 4 locations with weeklyrotation. Both Ukrainian and international journalists can applyfor participation. sts--11119/Issues Related to Journalist ProtectionWhile the Red Cross Committee considers that journalists are fully protectedby the Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocols to it, a number of experts andmedia-protecting NGOs – e.g. Committee to Protect Journalists, InternationalFederation of Journalists, Reporters Without Boarders, International PressInstitute, etc – insist on the necessity to set up separate provisions to ensuremedia professionals’ protection in the combat operations zones. They have putforward a number of proposals aiming to set up better safety standards, and toensure a more efficient enforcement of relevant provisions of the AdditionalProtocols. No agreement on this matter has been reached so far.In this context, it is worth mentioning that infringement on life, health,freedom and property of the civilian population (including journalists) in aninternational or non-international armed conflict is a gross violation of theinternational humanitarian law. If intentional, such actions could be deemedtantamount to war crime. Should Ukraine recognise the jurisdiction of theInternational Criminal Court and ratify the Rome Statute, there will be a realchance for that Court to consider allegations that such crimes were committedin Ukraine.There are two disputable issues regarding the IHL definitions. First, someexperts would argue that Article 79 of the 1st Additional Protocol, which is theprincipal document specifying measures or protections for journalists whowork in the conflict zone, stipulates that “journalists shall be considered ascivilians”, whereas they are civilians in the conflict. So the above languagenuances do not allow for any preferences for journalists as the IHL provides17

Conflict sensitive journalism: best practices and recommendationsfor the two distinct categories: combatants and non-combatants (includingcivilians).Second, they would maintain that in the absence of a clear definition of theterm «journalist», the scope of the Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocolsbecomes vague. Indeed, given the ever growing numbers of public journalistsand bloggers, as well as the opportunities provided by the social media, it isvery hard to determine who is a journalist and who is a media-active citizen.After all, it does not matter much from the humanitarian law perspective as ittreats the media professionals, with the only exception of war correspondentsenjoying a special status, as falling within the category of civilian population.Therefore, this debate would become really important and meaningful only ifthe journalists obtain a special status, different from that of the other civilians.1.2. Specifics of Journalists’ Work in the Conflict Zone:General Rules and RecommendationsThe main recommendation is «Come back alive!»Only if a journalist returns alive from the assignment, will they be able tomake a good report or material. It seems natural and logical, but for a lot ofmedia people there is no hard and fast answer to the question: which is moreimportant – your life or your report?“Not a single report is worth the journalist’s life,” – these are the openingand/or the closing words of every safety-training workshop hosted bythe International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Ukrainian creative andprofessional associations, other organisations that have abundant experienceof training journalists to work in “hot spots”.From the personal safety standpoint, the statement“journalist’s work is to head for trouble” could be appliedto any type of journalism. Therefore, risk assessmentis a key concept in journalism given that no singlenews coverage is worth the journalist’s life.Yosri Fouda, “Al-Jazeera”18

Safety of JournalistsPhoto credit: Vitaliy GryniovREFERENCES:1. School of Journalism – the art of unbiased reporting - BBC Academy (RU) yKU-glE20UM2. Nolan Peterson Media in conflict: changes and challenges (ENG) IMvOYxaJyns3. Anastasia Stanko: Journalism in times of military conflict (UA) wymOZI1njxI4. Diana Dutsyk: The role of the media in conflict reporting (UA) eSlOuBfv0Zs5. How social media kindles conflict in Israel cial-media-kindlesconflictin-israel/av-188584436. Vice News, Selfie Soldiers: Russia Checks in to Uk

University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada (1990). She then achieved a Master of Journalism from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada (1994). Chris Schuepp Chris Schuepp studied journalism in Dortmund (Masters Degree in 2000), worked as a journalist f