UNESCO Director-General in Helsinki for World Press Freedom Day

On 2-4 May, the UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, will be in Helsinki, Finland, for the flagship International Conference of World Press Freedom Day, organized in partnership with the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with the support of some 50 civil society and media organizations.

The overarching theme of this year’s celebration is ‘Access to Information and Fundamental Freedoms,’ with a focus on: freedom of information and sustainable development, protecting press freedom from censorship and surveillance overreach and ensuring safety of journalists online and offline.

The Director-General will speak about UNESCO’s promotion of press freedom and freedom of information, and action to enhance the safety of journalists and to end impunity,  during the opening of the two-day conference on 3 May, when she will take the floor alongside Juha Sipilä, the Prime Minister of Finland, and Jussi Pajunen, the Mayor of Helsinki.

On the evening of 3 May, Sauli Niinistö, President of Finland, and Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, will lead the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize-giving ceremony, whose winner this year is Khadija Ismayilova, an investigative journalist from Azerbaijan.

On 2 May, this year’s conference breaks ground in establishing the link between artistic freedom, media diversity and press freedom, as promoted by UNESCO’s Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expression. The Director-General will participate in a Side Event, led by the Nordic Council of Ministers, on  “Re-shaping Cultural Policies for development, Promoting Diversity of Cultural Expressions and Artistic Freedom in a Digital Age” – with Sanni Grahn-Laasonen, Minister of Education and Culture, Finland, Alice Bah Kuhnke, Minister of Culture and Democracy, Sweden, Linda Hofstad Helleland, Minister of Culture, Norway, Bertel Haarder, Minister of Culture, Denmark, and Illugi Gunnarsson, Minister of Education, Science and Culture, Iceland, including also a comment from Minister of Culture Rigmor Dam, Faroe Islands, representing the Ministers of Culture of the three autonomous Nordic areas Greenland, Faroe Islands and Åland.

On the same day, the Director-General will be honoured to receive the Chydenius Medal, awarded by the Anders Chydenius Foundation and the Association for Chydenius Institute. This Award marks the outstanding performance of UNESCO on international level in promotion of the principles of openness, cherished by Anders Chydenius, the initiator of the world’s first Freedom of Information Act (1766). The Award was presented by Mr Gustav Björkstrand (Chairperson of Anders Chydenius Foundation) and Mrs Jutta Urpilainen (Kokkola City Council President, MP, Chairwoman of the Finnish UNESCO Commission), along with the 250 Delegation, held at the Päivälehti museum.

During the visit, the Director-General is expected to hold bilateral meetings with President of the Republic of Finland, Mr. Sauli Niinistö, as well as with the Prime Minister, Mr. Sipilä, the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development, Ms Lenita Toivakka, the Minister of Education and Culture, Ms. Sanni Grahn-Laasonen, the Minister of Transport and Communications, Ms Anne Berner, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Timo Soini.