The Coverage of Military Conflicts in Mass Media and the International Humanitarian Law

Article excerpt

* The Coverage of Military Conflicts in Mass Media and the International Humanitarian Law, 2d ed. Galiya Ibrayeva. Almaty, Kazakhstan: Kazakh University Press, 2010. 308 pages. (In Russian.)

Galiya Ibrayeva's The Coverage of Military Conflicts in Mass Media is designed as a textbook for schools of journalism and international relations not only in Kazakhstan, but also in all other Central Asian republics. It also contributes to current debates on the development of the international legal environment to protect journalists, covering recent trends on the position of journalists in areas of major wars and military conflicts in various parts of the world, from the point of view of international humanitarian law.

This book, written in Russian, brings together a wealth of materials and examples from conflicts on the territory of the former Soviet Union - Georgia, Russia, and some Central Asian republics, a region that became one of the most dangerous places for journalists during the last decade, and where the author has experience and strong expertise.

Ibrayeva is a former dean of the School of Journalism at Al Farabi Kazakh National University (KazNU), where she spent fifteen years teaching and researching on various issues related to media development in Kazakhstan and in the former Soviet Union. The main goal of her research presented in this book is to assess how international humanitarian law has evolved over time and how this set of international regulations has been applied to protect journalists reporting from areas of major international conflict. She also focuses on recent trends, especially on the ambiguity of the position of new media reporters in the areas of major wars and military actions, and especially on the impact of the international war on terrorism on the position of journalists around the world.

The role of mass media in covering military conflicts and international humanitarian law has been quite well covered in Western literature during the last few years, including some recent major publications on this issue (Michael A. Newton, 2009; Simon Cottle, 2008; Thomas Rid and Marc Hecker, 2009; Eytan Gilboa, 2002). However, as the author points out, this matter has not been well studied in the Russian-language academic literature, especially in regard to local content and adding a non-Western perspective on assessing the international legal norms in protecting journalists pursuing their professional duties in the post-Communist world.

The twelve chapters in this book can be subdivided into three sections. The first (chapters 2-4) covers the development of international law, from the early attempts to systematize a legal framework to protect civilians, to the development of a set of international humanitarian laws in the mid-twentieth century. The author suggests that the first Geneva Convention of 1863, enhanced by a series of other international treaties and agreements, established the legal framework not only for protecting civilians in areas of military conflict, but also provided protection to journalists and established legal and ethical norms for media coverage of military conflicts (e. …