New York: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called upon all governments to ensure security of journalists, saying "a free media is critical to true democracy and sustainable development".
The secretary-general made the statement when delivering a video message to the Second World Media Summit, which kicked off in Moscow on Thursday, UN officials said here.
"Journalists are under threat not only in conflict zones, but when they report on governments, police and businesses -- or drug cartels and arms merchants," Ban said.
"All of this is appalling," he said.
He urged governments to do everything possible to protect journalists, fight impunity and achieve justice, saying, "This is the goal of our UN plan of action on the safety of journalists. Security Council Resolution 1738 also calls for action."
Over the last 10 years, more than 500 journalists have lost their lives. A total of 66 were killed this year alone, while countless others have been detained, threatened or silenced through fear and censorship, said the UN chief.
"Freedom of expression is a basic human right and a core UN mission," he said.
Among the 300 participants in the Moscow summit were leaders of major news organisations such as host ITAR-TASS News Agency, Xinhua News Agency, the Associated Press, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Thomson Reuters, National Broadcasting Company (NBC), Al-Jazeera, Kyodo News, and the Middle East News Agency.
In October 2009, the first World Media Summit was started by nine leading media organisations -- the AP, BBC, Google Inc, ITAR- TASS, Kyodo News, News Corp, Thomson Reuters, Turner Broadcasting System, Inc, and Xinhua.