World Press Freedom Day (3 May)
“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media.”
Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The World Press Freedom day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993 following a Recommendation adopted at the 26th session of UNESCO's General Conference in 1991. This in turn was a response to a call by African journalists who in 1991 produced the landmark Windhoek Declaration on media pluralism and independence.
The main purpose of marking this day is to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom, assess the state of press freedom throughout the world, defend the media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
Why it is important
- freedom of expression is an essential pillar of good governance;
- it also creates a platform for monitoring the implementation of those policies and serves as a feedback loop to improve the quality of public services and policies, thus serving as key instrument to promote government accountability and participation
How UN observes this day
UNESCO, the United Nations agency mandated to promote and protect press freedom worldwide, leads the worldwide celebration of the World Press Freedom Day by identifying the global themes and organizing respective events in different parts of the world every year.
The UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize is also awarded on that day. The prize was created in 1997 to honour a person, organization or institution that has made an outstanding contribution to the defence and/or promotion of press freedom anywhere in the world, and especially when this has been achieved in the face of danger.
The 2015 World Press Freedom Day focused on three themes:
- The need for quality journalism - reporting that is accurate and independent remains a constant concern in a media landscape that is changing due to technological and commercial developments.
- Gender imbalance continues in the media 20 years after the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Change. All too few women journalists are able to reach decision-making positions in the media.
- Digital safety is of growing concern because digital communications makes it difficult for journalists to protect themselves and their sources.