3 May 2016
In December 1993, the World Press Freedom Day was declared to be May 3 by the UN General Assembly, following the recommendation of UNESCO’s General Conference.
The day marks the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek which is a statement of free press principles put together by newspaper journalists in Africa during a UNESCO seminar on “Promoting an Independent and Pluralistic African Press” in Windhoek, Namibia, from 29 April to 3 May 1991.
This document calls for free, independent, pluralistic media worldwide, characterizing free press as essential to democracy and as a fundamental human right.
The aims of the World Press Day are:
– To raise awareness of the importance of freedom of the press
– To remind governments of their duty to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression enshrined under Article 19 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
– It is an opportunity to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom; assess the state of press freedom throughout the world.
– To defend the media from attacks on their independence.
– To pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
According to a statement released on the website of the United Nations, the 2016 World Press Freedom Day coincides with three important milestones:
• The 250th anniversary of the world’s first freedom of information law, covering both modern-day Sweden and Finland.
• The 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Windhoek Declaration of press freedom principles.
• The year 2016 is also the first year of the 15 year life-cycle of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The focus of this year’s celebration is three different aspects of press freedom. They are:
• Freedom of information as a fundamental freedom and as a human right.
• Protecting press freedom from censorship and surveillance overreach.
• Ensuring safety for journalism online and offline.