Press freedom watchdog should be granted access to UN bodies

Wednesday, July 13, 2016
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The meeting room of the United Nations Economic and Social Council at UN headquarters in New York City. CC BY | MusikAnimal.

57 civil society groups worldwide have joined together to ask the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) to reconsider granting the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), valued press freedom organization, consultative status at the UN in advance of ECOSOC's upcoming Coordination and Management meeting on July 25-27.


Read more about why rejecting CPJ from the UN showcases appalling conflicts of interest within its NGO Committee.


Dear Members of the UN Economic and Social Council, 

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is seeking accreditation from ECOSOC as part of its mission to promote press freedom worldwide by defending the rights of journalists to report the news without fear of reprisal. CPJ's mission is derived from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19 of which states: 

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. 

In June 2016, ECOSOC's NGO Committee rejected CPJ's application after four years of consideration. We, the undersigned, now seek your help in overturning this negative decision at ECOSOC's 25-27 July Management and Coordination Meeting. 

Since its founding in 1981, CPJ's mandate has been to take action when journalists are censored, harassed, threatened, jailed, kidnapped, or killed for their work, without regard to political ideology. To achieve this goal, CPJ documents cases, publishes in-depth reports, conducts high-level advocacy, and provides individual moral and material support. We believe that UN ECOSOC accreditation will help CPJ better advocate on behalf of journalists by enabling access to the General Assembly, the Human Rights Council and key UN processes. 

UN agencies have regularly consulted with CPJ as they have taken greater efforts to recognise the risks to journalists around the world, through, for example, the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, the creation of the International Day to End Impunity, and the work of UNESCO and the Human Rights Council. CPJ is regularly cited in UN special reports on the safety of journalists, digital safety, violence against women journalists, and elsewhere, and has associate status with UNESCO. 

CPJ's research staff documents hundreds of attacks on the press each year. Each case identified as a violation of press freedom is corroborated by more than one source for factual accuracy, confirmation that the victims were journalists or news organizations, and verification that intimidation was the probable motive. CPJ is funded solely by contributions from individuals, corporations, and foundations, and does not accept government funding. 

CPJ staff members regularly meet with governments to discuss concerns and to find solutions, grounded in the organisation's belief that safeguarding journalists and improving press freedom requires positive government engagement. 

We, the undersigned, believe that freedom of expression and the work of civil society to defend it is crucial, and in turn, support the work of CPJ. We would appreciate your backing so that CPJ may better fulfil its mission and expand its engagement with the United Nations as an accredited NGO. 


Committee to Protect Journalists
ActiveWatch – Media Monitoring Agency
Afghanistan Journalists Center
Albanian Media Institute
Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain
Association of Caribbean Media Workers
Bahrain Center for Human Rights
Cambodian Center for Human Rights
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
Center for Independent Journalism - Romania
Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility 
Centro de Reportes Informativos sobre Guatemala - CERIGUA
Child Rights International Network 
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Espacio Público
Foro de Periodismo Argentino
Foundation for Press Freedom - FLIP
Freedom House
Fundación Karisma
Fundamedios - Andean Foundation for Media Observation and Study
Gulf Centre for Human Rights
Human Rights Network for Journalists - Uganda
Independent Journalism Center - Moldova
Index on Censorship
Institute for the Studies on Free Flow of Information
Instituto de Prensa y Libertad de Expresión - IPLEX
International Federation of Journalists
Maharat Foundation
Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance
Media Institute of Southern Africa 
Media Watch
Pacific Freedom Forum
Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms - MADA
PEN American Center
PEN Canada
PEN International
Privacy International
Public Association "Journalists"
Reporters Without Borders
Social Media Exchange - SMEX
Southeast Asian Press Alliance
Vigilance pour la Démocratie et l’État Civique 
West African Journalists Association

Asociación de Periodistas de Guatemala 
CUNY Graduate School of Journalism International Reporting Program 
Center for Defending Freedom of Journalists 
Freedom Now Morocco 
Instituto Prensa y Sociedad (IPYS), Peru 
International Women's Media Foundation 
Iraq Journalists Syndicate 
Journalistic Freedoms Observatory 
Media Legal Defence Intiative (MLDI) 
Network of Volunteer Lawyers for Freedom of Expression 
New Narratives Liberia 
Samir Kassir Foundation

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