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Press freedom day 2023 to hold in New York

By Sunday Aikulola
24 January 2023   |   4:07 am
Thirty years after its proclamation, this year’s World Press Freedom Day Global Conference will be held at the UN Headquarters, New York, on May 2. This is a special anniversary edition of the conference...
Nigeria journalists

World Press Freedom Day

Thirty years after its proclamation, this year’s World Press Freedom Day Global Conference will be held at the UN Headquarters, New York, on May 2. This is a special anniversary edition of the conference, as it marks the 30th anniversary since the proclamation of World Press Freedom Day by the UN General Assembly at its 48th session in 1993.

In the last three decades, World Press Freedom Day celebrations has taken everybody on a journey, giving prominence to the right to free expression and emphasising various aspects of press freedom’s importance. However, in the face of multiple crises, media freedom, journalist safety and freedom of expression, as well as other human rights are increasingly under attack.

Reflecting this reality, this year’s title of the conference is ‘Shaping a future of rights – Freedom of Expression as a driver for all other human rights’ signifying the enabling element of freedom of expression to enjoy and protect all other human rights.

Partners from the media, academia, and civil society are invited to organise events in New York and around the world centred on this year’s theme.
The day also acts as a reminder to governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom and is also a day of reflection among media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics.

Just as importantly, World Press Freedom Day is a day of support for media, which are targets for the restraint or abolition of press freedom.
It is also a day of remembrance for those journalists who lost their lives in the pursuit of a story.

Every year, May 3 is a date, which celebrates the fundamental principles of press freedom, to evaluate press freedom around the world, to defend the media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists, who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.

The UN General Assembly proclaimed world Press Freedom Day 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.

Meanwhile, owing to the violent attacks that took place in Brasília (DF, Brazil) on Sunday, January 8, 2023, when demonstrators invaded the public buildings of the Three Powers, vandalised works and national cultural heritage and committed aggression and intimidation against journalists, the Representation of UNESCO in Brazil highlights that.

“Information is a public good. It is unacceptable that journalists’ safety, especially when exercising their profession, is threatened under any pretext in a democracy such as in Brazil. Freedom of the press is inherent to the democratic rule of law, which cannot tolerate attacks against journalists such as those registered in the federal capital.

“As the lead agency of the United Nations System to promote the free flow of ideas through words and images, the safety of journalists and combating impunity for this type of crime, UNESCO advocates that a free press be respected. Furthermore, law enforcement agencies must urgently adopt a firm position in the face of what happened so that acts of aggression do not go unpunished.

It is worth remembering that UNESCO coordinates and implements the so-called United Nations Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. By promoting a culture of peace as the central axis of its mandate, UNESCO reaffirms its commitment to respecting the diversity, plurality of opinions, dialogue and respect for professional media. In this way, guaranteeing the safety of journalists and independent journalism should not be a concern of the profession alone: it is a necessary precaution for society as a whole.