World Press Freedom Day

3 May

Every year, 3 May 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. World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993 following a Recommendation adopted at the twenty-sixth 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 on media pluralism and independence.

At the core of UNESCO's mandate is freedom of the press and freedom of expression. UNESCO believes that these freedoms allow for mutual understanding to build a sustainable peace.

It serves as an occasion to inform citizens of violations of press freedom - a reminder that in dozens of countries around the world, publications are censored, fined, suspended and closed down, while journalists, editors and publishers are harassed, attacked, detained and even murdered.

It is a date to encourage and develop initiatives in favour of press freedom, and to assess the state of press freedom worldwide.

3 May 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.

MESSAGE FROM THE DIRECTOR-GENERAL

"Freedom of the press, like any other freedom, is never completely secure. The development of a knowledge and information-based society via digital channels implies heightened vigilance, to ensure the essential criteria of transparency, free access and quality. Quality information requires working to check sources and select pertinent subjects; it calls for ethics and an independence of mind. It thus depends entirely on the work of journalists. World Press Freedom Day is also an opportunity to highlight the crucial role played by this profession in defending and preserving the democratic rule of law."

—  Audrey Azoulay, Directrice générale, on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day

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