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Pen and sword - journalism and IHL

In times of war, a journalist's role can carry unimaginable risk. Since 1992, over 1,000 journalists - 25 in 2015 alone - were killed while performing their duties in conflict zones around the world.

The latest issue of International Humanitarian Law magazine focuses on the role of journalists in war.

Under the auspices of international humanitarian law, these men and women are afforded the same rights and protections as civilians. Yet, as Dr Emily Crawford, co-director of the University of Sydney's Centre for International Law explains, journalists may be specifically targeted.

"Journalists now increasingly find themselves subject to violence simply due to their occupation," she says. "Journalists often serve as witnesses to events that people in power do not want publicised; thus, journalists can often find themselves, harassed, censored, attacked, imprisoned, even killed."

The International Committee of the Red Cross trains journalists in IHL, not only to enable them to better protect their rights - and their lives - while on assignment, but also to use that knowledge to ensure accuracy of their reporting, understand when the laws of war are being upheld or compromised, and raise awareness of issues. However, without a wider understanding of these laws during peacetime, how can they be respected in times of conflict?

Australian Red Cross International Humanitarian Law magazine talks with media and law professionals about the work of these individuals who record the events of war, and how knowledge of international humanitarian law can both protect their lives and ensure accuracy of their reporting.

Dr Emily Crawford, Co-Director, Sydney Centre for International Law, University of Sydney on the reach and effectiveness of current protections for journalists in the field

Matt Brown, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Middle East Correspondent discusses the practical applications of international humanitarian law whilst on assignment

Peter Cave, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's former Foreign Affairs Editor and Foreign Correspondent on the use of social media in conflict reporting

Dorothea Krimitsas, Deputy Head, Public Communications Division, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) outlines how the Red Cross and other humanitarian organisations attempt to ensure the safety of correspondents during conflict

Martine Perret, UN photographer and humanitarian recounts some of the challenges in bringing stories of war to public awareness

Dr Kayt Davies, Senior Lecturer, Edith Cowan University and IHL Committee member on the importance of providing training in international humanitarian law to journalists

Innocent Kamanzi, former Public Information Officer for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) explains how the prism of media can be misused to aid and abet human rights violations, as demonstrated by the 1994 genocide in Rwanda

To find out more, download the latest issue of International Humanitarian Law magazine.

Australian Red Cross provides training in IHL to a wide variety of organisations and individuals. To participate or to find out more, click here