[csaa-forum] CFP: Journalism Testing Legal Boundaries: Media Laws and the Reporting of Arab News

John Gunders j.gunders at uq.edu.au
Fri Nov 2 15:36:18 CST 2007

Posted by request. Apologies for cross-posting.


Journalism Testing Legal Boundaries: 
Media Laws and the Reporting of Arab News

Conference organised by the
Arab Media Centre 
Communication and Media Research Institute, University of Westminster
in collaboration with the 
Westminster International Law and Theory Centre
with support from the UK Higher Education Innovation Fund

Date: 20 June, 2008
Venue: University of Westminster, New Cavendish Campus,
115 New Cavendish Street, London W1


Parts of the Arab-owned news media have become more credible and
effective in recent years. Non-Arab broadcasters, by venturing into
Arabic-language television, are today also increasing their output of
Arab news. But is the global legal environment conducive to informative
reporting on Arab affairs? Do we know enough about the legal systems
that govern newsgathering in Arab countries or the breaking of news
stories in the Arab world and beyond? Is critical thinking in
international law and legal theory keeping pace with the
cross-jurisdictional development of organisations that cover Arab news? 

International human rights law sets media freedom standards, while
international humanitarian law recognises journalists as civilians, who
are entitled to protection in war zones. Yet the killing of media
workers in Iraq, Lebanon and Palestinian towns calls respect for
international law into question. New Arab legislation often defines
terrorism broadly enough to criminalise forms of media activity, even in
countries where emergency laws and laws on defamation already curb
journalists' work. Meanwhile Arab journalists have been detained in US
military prisons, an Al-Jazeera journalist has received a seven-year
prison sentence in Spain, and two Danish reporters were taken to court
for reporting evidence that suggested their government lacked credible
reasons to invade Iraq. The changing landscape of news coverage has
diversified the range of jurisdictions under which the reporting of Arab
news takes place. Internet journalism adds to the mix. Such
diversification might be assumed to create structural pressure that
would undermine restrictive media laws. Does the evidence bear this
assumption out? This conference, besides providing an opportunity for
scholars to present research papers, will also bring together prominent
media practitioners, lawyers and journalists' representatives to share
their experience and discuss key issues.


Researchers in law, political science, international relations,
socio-legal studies, area studies, media studies and human rights
studies are invited to propose papers under themes that may include the

*	Laws on access to information and their application in relation
to news from or about Arab countries
*	The relevance of international human rights law and humanitarian
law to the treatment of journalists in Arab countries 
*	Reporting of war and conflict in Arab countries and the law
*	The status of emergency laws and their use against journalists
*	Defamation laws in Arab countries: their impact and attempts at
*	Legal reasons for basing Arab news organisations outside the
Arab world
*	Citizen journalism, blogging and the law
*	Who can be legally defined as a journalist and who decides?
*	Gender, reporting and personal status laws in Arab countries
*	Laws on unionisation of journalists
*	Relations between journalists and the judiciary 
*	Legal/sociolegal/critical theorisation of the media/war/law


The deadline for abstracts is December 14th 2007. Successful applicants
will be notified by January 11th 2008. Since it is proposed to publish
conference papers as soon as possible after the conference, final papers
will be requested in draft form by April 28th 2008. Abstracts should be
between 150-350 words. They should include the presenter's name,
affiliation, email and work address, together with the title of the
paper and a brief biographical note on the presenter, and should be
addressed to Maha Taki at amc-office at wmin.ac.uk. The selection committee
will comprise members of both the CAMRI Arab Media Centre and the
Westminster International Law and Theory Centre.


It is recognised that funding for conference attendance is very limited
in some Arab institutions, including universities, and that this may
constrain their researchers from attending. In order to maximise
participation of Arab scholars specialising in the relevant fields, the
conference organisers hope to be able to provide travel grants in
selected cases. Anyone interested in presenting a paper is advised to
submit their proposal pending further information about their
eligibility for a grant to attend the conference.

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