May 3- World Press Freedom Day

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Origins and purpose of the Day

World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 1993, following the recommendation of UNESCO’s General Conference. Since then, on May 3, the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek is celebrated worldwide as World Press Freedom Day.

After 30 years, the historic connection made between the freedom to seek, impart and receive information and the public- good remains as relevant as it was at the time of its signing. Special commemorations of the 30th anniversary are planned to take place during World Press Freedom Day International Conference.

May 3 acts as a reminder to governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom. It is also a day of reflection among media professionals about press freedom and professional ethics issues. It is an opportunity 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 pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

Fostering Freedom of Expression

As the United Nations agency with a specific mandate to promote “the free flow of ideas by word and image,” UNESCO works to foster free, independent, and pluralistic media in print, broadcast, and online. Media development in this mode enhances the freedom of expression, and it contributes to peace, sustainability, poverty eradication, and human rights.

This foundation is why UNESCO today promotes policies for press freedom and the safety of journalists and why we support independent journalism based on professional ethics and self-regulatory principles.

For UNESCO, pluralistic and diverse media provides information options so that the public can make good choices. This is why today we also help to build community media in particular and why we foster gender equity in the media. In order to empower individuals as informed producers and consumers of information, UNESCO has initiatives in media and information literacy and journalism education.

Specific media projects that align with our vision can secure grants from our International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC), which also promotes knowledge-driven media development.

UNESCO’s work in all these areas is part of our support for freedom of expression as an inalienable human right set down in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

2022 Theme: Journalism under Digital Siege

This year’s World Press Freedom Day theme, “Journalism under digital siege,” spotlights the multiple ways in which journalism is endangered by surveillance and digitally-mediated attacks on journalists and the consequences of all this on public trust in digital communications.

The latest UNESCO World Trends Report Insights discussion paper, “Threats that Silence: Trends in the Safety of Journalists,” highlights how surveillance and hacking are compromising journalism. Surveillance can expose information gathered by journalists, including from whistle-blowers, and violates the principle of source protection, which is universally considered a prerequisite for freedom of the media and is enshrined in UN Resolutions. Surveillance may also harm the safety of journalists by disclosing sensitive private information, which could be used for arbitrary judicial harassment or attack.

There is a growing global push encouraging more transparency regarding how Internet companies exploit citizens’ data; how that data informs predictive models and artificial intelligence and enables amplification of disinformation and hatred. This was underlined in the Windhoek+30 Declaration call for technology companies to “work to ensure transparency in relation to their human and automated systems.”

World Press Freedom Day 2022 Global Conference

Organized annually since 1993, the Global Conference provides an opportunity for journalists, civil society representatives, national authorities, academics, and the broader public to discuss emerging challenges to press freedom and journalists’ safety and to work together on identifying solutions.

On 2-5 May 2022, UNESCO and the Republic of Uruguay are hosting the annual World Press Freedom Day Global Conference in a hybrid format in Punta Del Este, Uruguay. Under the theme “Journalism under Digital Siege,” the digital era’s impact on freedom of expression, the safety of journalists, access to information, and privacy are to be discussed

The conference will reunite relevant policymakers, journalists, media representatives, activists, policymakers in Internet companies, cybersecurity managers, AI researchers, and legal experts from around the world to explore the digital era’s impact on freedom of expression and the safety of journalists, media viability and public trust.