The 3rd of May, has been set aside annually by the United Nations, to be globally commemorated as the World Press Freedom Day. The World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 1993, following the recommendation of UNESCO’s General Conference. Since then, 3 May, the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek is celebrated worldwide as World Press Freedom Day.
At its core, the World Press Freedom day gives an opportunity for at least, the following:
- A celebration of the fundamental principles of press freedom;
- An assessment of the state of press freedom throughout the world;
- A defense of the media from attacks on its/their independence;
- A platform to pay tributes to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
World Press Freedom Day 2019: Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation
This year, 2019, the theme of the World Press Freedom Day is “Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation.” The theme seeks to discuss current challenges faced by media in elections, along with the media’s potential in supporting peace and reconciliation processes. The Day will also examine concerns such as the safety of journalists and how they can better push back against a growing climate of disinformation. In the words of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, “No democracy is complete without access to transparent and reliable information. It is the cornerstone for building fair and impartial institutions, holding leaders accountable and speaking truth to power.”
This year, the event will span the duration of three days; 1st to 3rd of May, 2019, and will take place at the Headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Given that the overall theme of the event will be, the role of media in elections and democracy, it is inevitable that the event will provide a wide range of sessions (plenaries, debates, lightning talks, etc.) which will address different aspects of the overall theme. The event will also provide a platform for multiple actors to exchange on current issues, threats and achievements concerning freedom of the press.
In addition, the event this year, will also host an academic conference on the safety of journalists which will allow researchers from different disciplines to share and discuss recent research. This will be the fourth edition of the conference, aimed at bridging the gap between academic research, policy-making and journalism. In continuation with the traditions of previous years, the WPFD will host a Youth Newsroom, which will bring on board young journalists and journalism students to cover the event and expand their reporting skills.
The attendance of high profile guests and high level government representatives, such as the UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulay, is expected. Other expected Participants include representatives of civil society, media organizations, professional associations, academia and the judiciary. On 2 May, the UNESCO Director-General will award the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize to an individual or organization that has made an outstanding contribution to the defence of press freedom.
The 26th celebration of World Press Freedom Day is jointly organized by UNESCO, the African Union Commission and the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. This year’s theme “Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation” discusses current challenges faced by media in elections, along with the media’s potential in supporting peace and reconciliation processes.
Featured image source: SABC News