Date: Wednesday, 3 May 2023; 30th Anniversary.
Organizer: The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
The World Press Freedom Day is annually observed for the following purposes:
- To raise awareness of the importance of freedom of the press,
- To assess the state of press freedom throughout the world,
- To celebrate the fundamental principles and professional ethics of press freedom,
- To remind governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom,
- To support the media which are targets for the restraint or abolition of press freedom and editorial independence,
- To pay tribute to those journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
The World Press Freedom Day was officially held for the first time on 3 May 1994.
The concept of World Press Freedom Day was conceived in a UNESCO conference in Windhoek, which ended on 3 May 1991 with the adoption of the landmark Windhoek Declaration for the Development of a Free, Independent, and Pluralistic Press.
In December 1993, following the recommendation of UNESCO’s General Conference, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution (UNESCO 26 C/Resolution 4.3) proclaiming 3 May of each year as World Press Freedom Day.
Since 1993, UNESCO marks each World Press Freedom Day by hosting a conference to assess the state of press freedom worldwide and discuss solutions for addressing challenges. Each conference is centered on a particular theme related to press freedom.
Since 1997, UNESCO also marks each World Press Freedom Day by conferring the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize on a deserving individual or organization that has made an outstanding contribution to defend or promote press freedom anywhere in the world.
Why do we mark World Press Freedom?
Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right. As stated in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1948) : “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.”
Information and truth are always important for decision-making and adjustment of our lives to maximize the benefits available through our local resources. Access to accurate, fair, and unbiased information is essential and critical for mutual understanding, social inclusion, peace building, economic growth, and sustainable development. Freedom of information and freedom of expression have significant impacts on people’s health and wellbeing.
Freedom of express is also important for good governance. Government corruption has been proven to be the primary hindrance to development. Press freedom plays a vital role in uncovering the truth, especially in the context of crisis, and ensuring transparency, accountability, and the rule of law. Freedom of express can promote participation in public discourse and contribute to the fight against corruption.
Unfortunately, an increasing number of attacks and threats against the freedom of express is often witnessed over the world. In some areas, the media is still scrutinized from time to time and expression of opinions is constrained to different content and even strictly. This is unacceptable. In the era of internet and post-internet, it is more important than ever for people to be able to express or report freely and safely.
Annual theme in recent years:
2023 theme: ““Shaping a Future of Rights: Freedom of Expression as a Driver for All Other Human Rights.”
2022 theme: “Journalism under Surveillance”
2021 theme: “Information as a Public Good”
2020 theme: “Journalism without Fear or Favor”.
2019 theme: “Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation”.
2018 theme: “Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice and the Rule of Law”.
2017 theme: “Critical Minds for Critical Times: Media’s Role in Advancing Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies”.
2016 theme: “Access to Information and Fundamental Freedoms: This Is Your Right!”