Spotlight Seminar: Protecting Journalists, Protecting Freedoms

"Ending impunity for crimes committed against journalists"


October 31, 2017

followed by an informal networking apéro


Gaetan Vannay, COO of Securaxis, Member of the Board of RSF-Suisse, and a war reporter (bio, below)

Alain Modoux, Board Member and Vice-President of the Geneva-based ICT4Peace Foundation (bio, below)


This event will be moderated by Sarah Grosso, Media Communications Department, Webster University Geneva.


This is a free event.  Advanced registration is requested here >

War journalists have always confronted extreme risks in order to report from conflict zones. However, they increasingly find that they are also the direct targets of violence, kidnapping and murder. According to Reporters without Borders, this year 40 journalists, 4 citizen journalists and 8 media assistants have been killed so far; the true figures are likely higher as these only include cases in which it has been proven that journalists were killed or kidnapped because of their work.

Although legally protected when they enter conflict-zones under International Humanitarian Law, in these complex and dangerous settings, it is impossible to bring those responsible for these crimes to justice.

The impunity surrounding crimes against journalists, as well as being a fundamental issue of human rights, has profound implications for the freedom of expression and the freedom of the press. This is why, following the tragic assassination of two French journalists in Mali on 2 November 2013, the international community united to raise awareness of the need for journalists to be protected by creating an International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Committed Against Journalists.

In commemoration of this initiative, at this timely event at Webster, Mr. Alain Modoux will present on “Surviving the modern media minefield”, based on his experience working at the ICRC and UNESCO.  War journalist Gaetan Vannay will draw on his extensive experience in the field to provide a first-hand account of the dangers of reporting from conflict-zones.  He will also explore the implications of these dangers for the freedom of speech and for democracy itself.



Gaetan Vannay, COO of Securaxis, Member of the Board of RSF-Suisse, and a war reporter.  (Securaxis is a company dedicated to the security of people travelling in hazardous environments).

Gaetan has over 15 years of experience, working for Swiss and international media, including Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, RTS, Radio Canada, Radio France (France Info, France Inter), Al Jazeera, Le Temps, among others.  He has been reporting international crises since the early 2000s. He reported from Chechnya, Ukraine, Georgia, Zimbabwe, Ivory Coast, Tunisia, Libya, Syria, Egypt, and many other places. Gaetan Vannay won Swiss and international awards and nominations for his reports. As a motto, he strongly believes that analyse and theory should backed by “boots on the ground”.

Previously correspondent in London and Moscow, he is currently based in Geneva. Head of the international affairs news desk at the RTS-radio between 2009 and 2014. He majored in science at the college of the Abbaye de St-Maurice, studied journalism at Neuchâtel University, humanitarian law at Geneva University and Russian language at the Ural Technical Institute in Ekaterinburg (Russia). 


Alain Modoux (Switzerland) is a board member and Vice-President of the Geneva-based ICT4Peace Foundation who is specialized in Crisis Information Management and International Policy and Diplomacy in Cyberspace.

He holds a master’s degree in political science. He worked 24 years for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), first as a field delegate in South East Asia, Western Africa and the Middle East, then at the headquarters in Geneva, as Head of the Communication Department and member of the ICRC Directorate. In July 1989, he joined the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) where he held several senior positions in the communication field. In June 1999, he was promoted to the position of Assistant Director-General (ADG) in charge of the "Programme for Freedom of Expression, Democracy and Peace". He completed his career at UNESCO as Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information.

Mr. Modoux is best known within the media industry for his commitment to the safety of journalists and freedom of the press. In April 1985, he set up the "ICRC Hot Line to assist journalists on dangerous professional mission". At UNESCO, he played a leading role in launching several international initiatives to promote independent, pluralistic and free media. He organized, inter alia, the historical "Windhoek Seminar on promoting an Independent and Pluralistic African Press" held in Windhoek (Namibia) in May 1991. The Windhoek Declaration set the tone for all the subsequent regional journalists’ meetings that were to follow under UNESCO's patronage. Alain Modoux is also the architect of the UNESCO proposal which led to the decision by the General Assembly of the United Nations to proclaim 3 May "World Press Freedom Day". Twenty years later, he was awarded the Duho Taïno Medal by Irina Bokova, Director-general of UNESCO, for his "exceptional contribution to the creation of the World Press Freedom Day". Alain Modoux has also been honored by several international and regional media professional organizations including the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA), the International Association of Broadcasting (IAB), the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the Media Institute of Southern-Africa (MISA) for his continuous commitment to press freedom.

As an international expert in ICT and media issues, he represented UNESCO on the "Digital Opportunity Taskforce" (DOT Force) set up by the G-8 to address the challenges of the Information Society. He was also closely associated with the preparation of the "World Summit on the Information Society" (Geneva, December 2003, and Tunis, November 2005) as adviser to UNESCO and the Swiss federal administration.

Sarah Grosso is an Adjunct Professor and researcher at Webster University Geneva’s Media Communications Department. She teaches Interpersonal Communication, Media Writing, Ethics in the Media and Introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies. After her Master’s degree at ESCP-Europe business school, Sarah pursued her PhD in Anthropology at the London School of Economics. Her research interests focus on women’s rights and legal reform. Sarah also convenes Webster University Geneva’s Spotlight Seminar Series, which engages a wide range of stakeholders to explore contemporary issues related to media and communications.

Sarah also works as a consultant advising international development and humanitarian organisations and NGOs, including the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross, Oxfam, and the International Labour Organisation.


The event will be followed by a question and answer session and a free cocktail during which guests will have the opportunity to learn more about the work of Reporters without Borders.

Organised by the Media, Communications and Photography Department, Webster University Geneva in collaboration with Reporters without Borders (Geneva) and ICT4Peace Foundation, to commemorate the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Committed Against Journalists


This is a free event.  Registration is requested in advance >


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Webster University Geneva, LLC Commons Room
Route de Collex 9 1293 Bellevue, Switzerland

Event Type

Global Campuses, Geneva


Departments, School of Communications


wcci, gentop

Webster University Geneva
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This event requires registration.