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Call for Proposals on "Ending Impunity for Attacks on Journalists"

International Virtual Symposium and Special Issue of Communication Law & Policy

The journal Communication Law & Policy and the Brigham Young University School of Communications invite scholars, journalists and human-rights defenders around the world to submit abstracts and proposals for an international virtual symposium on “Ending Impunity for Attacks on Journalists.” The symposium will be held in November 2022 in connection with International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists. Scholarly articles as well as shorter essays developed in conjunction with the symposium may be considered for publication in a special issue of Communication Law & Policy in 2023.

According to the UNESCO Observatory of Killed Journalists, more than 1,000 journalist killings since 2006 are unresolved. Some estimates place impunity in journalist killings as high as 90 percent. Impunity for threats and violence against journalists, according to UNESCO, contributes to an escalating cycle that results in self-censorship by journalists and deprivation of information relevant to the community. In the United States, attention has come to the issue through journalist killings in Turkey (Jamal Khashoggi), Syria (Marie Colvin, James Foley, Steven Sotloff) and Afghanistan (David Gilkey), among others. But most journalists worldwide are not killed in conflict zones. Most are killed in their own homes, workplaces and cars. One analysis of the UNESCO Observatory indicates that 93 percent of 1,056 unresolved journalist killings involve local journalists rather than foreign correspondents.

Communication Law & Policy, a journal sponsored by the Law and Policy Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, will publish a special issue on safety of journalists and the issue of impunity in Fall 2023. Articles to be considered for publication in that issue will be due in early 2023. Acceptance for publication will be contingent on the journal’s editorial peer-review process. The symposium on “Ending Impunity for Attacks on Journalists” aims to help scholars, graduate students, journalists, human rights defenders and others contribute to a global conversation about fighting impunity. Organizers of the symposium will support interested authors in preparing submissions for the special journal issue.

Potential topics include but are not limited to how digital and social media attacks on journalists relate to actual physical violence and the chilling effect; the responsibility of government actors and news organizations to protect journalists from verbal and physical attacks; the relationship among the rule of a law in a given society, attacks on journalists and impunity; the value of public efforts such as the People’s Tribunal on the Murder of Journalists; country-specific issues and solutions relating to impunity in attacks on journalists; the role of regional human rights tribunals in the Americas, Africa, Asia and Europe in enforcing regional human rights agreements and thus combating impunity in attacks on journalists; and the feasibility of international mechanisms such as those proposed by former Special Rapporteur Agnès Callamard in the United Nations report about the extrajudicial killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The deadline for submission of abstracts and proposals for the November 2022 symposium is September 15, 2022. All submissions should be sent to The submissions should clarify in which of two categories they are submitted, academic or professional.

ACADEMIC: Abstract proposals for academic research articles. The abstract proposal should be no more than 1,500 words and should outline the topic and methodology of the proposed research. All relevant topics and methodologies will be considered. The special issue of Communication Law & Policy will publish academic articles in English in Bluebook format, but the symposium submissions need not comply with those parameters.

PROFESSIONAL: Proposals for personal or journalistic essays on relevant topics. These proposals should be no more than 500 words. The special issue of Communication Law & Policy intends to publish relevant work in several formats, which may include essays, Q&A interviews with experts and roundtable discussions, in English. Submissions to the symposium may take a variety of forms, including multimedia formats.

Participants in the symposium will be invited to submit completed drafts of their work no later than April 14, 2023 to be considered for publication in the special issue of Communication Law & Policy. Early submissions are encouraged.

This call is available in Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic and French.

For questions please contact:

Edward L. Carter, J.D. LL.M.
Professor of Communications
Brigham Young University