UNESCO Explores Media’s Role in Advancing Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies on WPFD 2017

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The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) will, from May 1 to 4, 2017, hold this year’s edition of the World Press Freedom Day with the theme “Critical Minds for Critical Times: Media’s role in advancing peaceful, just and inclusive societies” in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Over 100 national celebrations take place each year to commemorate this day. However, each year, UNESCO leads the worldwide celebration by identifying the global theme and organizing the main event in different parts of world.

May 3 is commemorated as a date to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom; to evaluate press freedom around the world, 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.

The day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993 following a recommendation adopted at the 26th Session of UNESCO’s General Conference in 1991. This was in response to a call by African journalists, who in 1991 produced the landmark Windhoek Declaration on media pluralism and independence.

This year’s commemoration holding at Balai Sidang Jakarta Convention Centre, Jakarta, Indonesia is jointly organized by UNESCO, the Government of Indonesia and the Press Council of Indonesia.

The 2017 World Press Freedom Day theme is focused on why it is vital to strengthen free and quality journalism to enable the media to effectively contribute to the achievement of Goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDD). Specifically, the interrelationships between freedom of expression, justice for all and the rule of law, peace, and inclusiveness will be explored.

As the world embarks on a new journey towards Sustainable Development, the 2017 edition of World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) provides a unique opportunity to highlight the significant role of freedom of expression and the right to information in the realization of the SDGs. These fundamental freedoms should be seen both as means towards and as goals of sustainable development.

UNESCO’s annual celebrations of World Press Freedom Day usually include conferring the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize on a deserving individual, organisation or institution that has made an outstanding contribution to the defence and/or promotion of press freedom anywhere in the world, especially when this has been achieved in the face of danger.

The Prize is named in honour of Guillermo Cano Isaza, a Colombian journalist who was assassinated in front of the offices of his newspaper, El Espectador, in Bogotá on December 17, 1986 as his writings had offended Colombia’s powerful drug barons. Created in 1997, the prize is awarded on the recommendation of an independent jury of 14 news professionals. Names are submitted by regional and international non-governmental organisations working to promote and defend press freedom, and by UNESCO member states.

WPFD serves as a platform to remind us of the importance of preserving strong journalism at a time when it is facing increasing challenges. It should also serve as an opportunity to call upon each and every Member State to integrate free, independent and pluralistic media, as well as universal access to information, within their policies in order to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

World Press Freedom Day 2017 will explore the following themes:

  • Justice for all as a prerequisite for freedom of expression and sustainable development
  • Promoting the media’s potential as a catalyser of peace and mutual understanding
  • Freedom of expression and freedom of information foster more inclusive societies

The main celebration encompasses parallel sessions and plenaries focused on the main themes of the International Day. These and related side events will hold on May 3 and 4, 2017 while pre-events will be organised by different partners focusing on themes of safety of journalists, freedom of expression, etc.

Participants at the UNESCO event are expected to register online for security and logistical reasons. Each participant is responsible for his or her own travel arrangements, visa application, accommodation, and other travel related costs and requirements.

Registration is open till March 20, 2017 at https://crm.unesco.org/local/?q=content/critical-minds-critical-times-media%E2%80%99s-role-advancing-peaceful-just-and-inclusive-societies.