Press Freedom: UNESCO and IPA to train police worldwide

06 Apr 2022

Paris, 31 March 2022 – UNESCO and the International Police Association (IPA) today unveiled a new partnership to build skills among police and security personnel in upholding freedom of expression and protecting journalist safety. The partners will launch a global Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) open to police all around the world.

A 2020 UNESCO study of 65 countries pointed to a sharp rise in violations of press freedom during protests, including harassment, intimidation, attacks, arrests and even killings of journalists, often carried out by police and security forces. A lack of police training on how to maintain order while enabling journalists to do their job is considered a major contributor to this problem.

UNESCO has already trained 8500 police in 17 countries in Latin America, Africa and the Arab region through local partnerships. This work will be expanded and accelerated through this new agreement with IPA, which has 372,000 members in nearly 100 countries.

Police and media: both crucial players in ensuring freedom of expression

"Police and security forces are critical duty bearers in ensuring that journalists are able to do their jobs safely and that any violations against press freedom are investigated and punished in accordance with the law," said Audrey Azoulay, Director-general of UNESCO. "Through this partnership with the International Police Association, UNESCO will expand its global programme to protect journalists and fight the longstanding impunity for crimes against journalists."

"We are very pleased to join efforts with UNESCO to ensure that security forces are aware of their vital role in protecting journalists and in ensuring a safe environment conducive to freedom of expression. Good, transparent communication with the media will also improve the public image of the police services," said May-Britt Ronnebro, Secretary-General of the International Police Association.

The MOOC will comprise a series of free online courses and is based on the UNESCO Training Manual on Freedom of Expression and Public Order. It is aimed at police, security forces and law enforcement agencies, including trainers of police officers, gendarmerie, emergency preparedness, security and police trainees, intelligence officers, riot police, spokespersons of police and investigators.

Both the MOOC and a global training of trainers will be designed and delivered by IBZ Castle Gimborn, the training and educational facility of the International Police Association, in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.

UNESCO's long experience in the training of judicial actors

According to UNESCO data, almost nine-in-ten journalist killings worldwide in recent years remain unresolved. The UNESCO and IPA training initiative will also encourage police to pursue investigations to ensure that those responsible for these crimes are identified and prosecuted.

To implement this training, UNESCO will draw from its long experience of training judges, who also play a critical role in the protection of freedom of expression, freedom of press and access to information. Since 2013, the Organization and its partners have trained 23,000 judges, judicial actors and civil society representatives from around the world on international standards around these issues.


These activities are implemented within the framework of the UN Plan of Action on Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity and will be supported with funds from the Ministry of the Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, through the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC).

Media contact: Clare O'Hagan,