The pen and the sword : international humanitarian law protections for journalism
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The Yale journal of international law, Vol. 41, issue 2, summer 2016, p. 415-457
Daniel J. Hessel
Barrels of ink have been spilled on the discussion about how to better protect journalists working in war zones. Understandably so; throughout the world, journalists covering armed conflicts have been harassed, threatened, denied access, and even killed. Scholars have written on the issue of how international humanitarian law (IHL) — the legal framework governing warfare — can better protect journalists and have put forth important and welcome suggestions. In doing so, they have documented the expansion of legal protections for wartime journalists. However, few have closely interrogated the underlying question of why IHL protections for journalists have expanded. This Note fills that gap. It documents a shift in international public discourse about the role of wartime journalists and why they warrant protection. This Note argues that early IHL protections for journalists were motivated exclusively by individual humanitarianism. Now, however, IHL protections for journalists are also motivated by the mutually inclusive public- informing function of journalists. Because of this shift, this Note argues that IHL can — and should — be understood not only as protecting journalists as individuals, but also as protecting journalism as a field.