The pen is mightier than any cens**rship! : Cartoonists sketch for World Press Freedom Day

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Cartooning for Peace
© Paresh
28 April 2017

With World Press Freedom Day 2017 fast approaching, UNESCO has teamed up with Cartooning for Peace to paint, (draw and doodle!) a better future for press freedom and artistic freedom. The campaign Cartoons for Freedom of Expression will circulate on social networks some of the most creative cartoonists and set the scene for discussions due to take place in Jakarta, Indonesia from 1 to 4 May.

Combining humor, satire and tragedy, Cartoons for Freedom of Expression feature fifteen cartoons designed by committed press cartoonists from around the world. The artworks in this series express the cartoonists’ different views on the state of press freedom and the many challenges that media and journalists face for informing citizens and carrying out critical reporting on issues of public interest.

“Sometimes playfully, sometimes bluntly, these cartoonists remind us of the importance of press freedom in a thought-provoking manner. Their critical artworks echo the right of society as a whole to express itself freely. We are pleased to join efforts with Cartooning for Peace for World Press Freedom Day,” said Frank La Rue, Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information of UNESCO.

Under the theme Critical Minds for Critical Times: Media's role in advancing peaceful, just and inclusive societies, World Press Freedom Day 2017 will bring together over 1100 participants to discuss current challenges from across the spectrum of media. With a special focus on retaining a critical approach to the information we consume, it will address the problems of “fake news” and hate speech online, as well as the safety of journalists and impact of new technologies on investigative journalism.

Special panels will also highlight the cutting-edge issue of artistic freedom as a pillar of freedom of expression, addressing questions of repression of artists, freedom of movement and international mobility for artists, and the right to participate in cultural life, as stipulated in the 2005 Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.

Cartoonists will also report on the event, in pictorial form, inspired on the topics and debates of World Press Freedom Day’s International Conference. They include Cathy Wilcox, cartoonist for Fairfax Media and member of Cartooning for Peace, who recognizes that “freedom must be fought and advocated for, in the face of many challenges and obstructive forces – social, political, commercial and cultural”.

“As an Australian cartoonist working for a major metropolitan newspaper, I enjoy a great deal of artistic and editorial freedom. Striving for independence of thought – free of ideology, prejudice and vested interest - is a constant aim for me, as is making the best use of the power, privilege and responsibility of its free expression,” Wilcox said.

Cartooning for Peace, is an international organization founded by Kofi Annan, 2001 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and former United Nations Secretary-General, and editorial cartoonist Plantu.

“As an observer of his time, the cartoonist draws with humor and depth the political, social and geopolitical realities. Very often, it points where it hurts - where freedom of the press is in danger, where human rights are flouted, where censorship is imposed over thoughts,” Plantu said.

The special launch of Cartoons for Freedom of Expression is the first joint raising awareness campaign to celebrate World Press Freedom Day, although UNESCO and Cartooning for Peace have collaborated before in several projects to highlight the vital role of freedom of expression.

"With a view to strengthening its advocacy activities and supporting editorial cartoonists at risk, Cartooning for Peace welcomes this partnership with UNESCO for freedom of expression, freedom of the press and freedom to draw,” said Mark Gore, Director of Cartooning for Peace.