The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is collaborating with the Government of Finland to organize the main celebration of the 2016 World Press Freedom Day from May 2 to 4 in Helsinki, Finland.
UNESCO usually leads the worldwide celebration of this day by identifying the global theme and organizing the main event in different parts of the world every year. This year, celebrations will include of a two-day conference on the theme “Access to Information and Fundamental Freedoms: This is Your Right!” at the Finlandia Hall in Helsinki.
World Press Freedom Day is celebrated every year on May 3 since 1993 when the international day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly following a Recommendation adopted at the 26th Session of UNESCO’s General Conference in 1991. The Day celebrates the fundamental principles of press freedom, evaluates press freedom around the world, defends the media from attacks on their independence and pays tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.
The recommendation to the UN General Conference in 1991 was in response to a call for the designation of a day dedicated to preserving press freedom by African journalists who in 1991 produced the landmark Windhoek Declaration which proclaimed that an independent, pluralistic press is fundamental to democratic and economic development. This year marks the 25th celebration of the Windhoek Declaration as well as the 250th anniversary of the world’s first freedom of information law which covered both modern-day Sweden and Finland.
2016 is also the first year of the 15-year life cycle of the recently adopted United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to which press freedom and the right to information have direct relevance.
The celebration of World Press Freedom Day this year, therefore, presents a monumental opportunity to raise awareness on the importance of freedom of expression and press freedom as well as the need to create a free, independent and pluralistic media environment.
The World Press Freedom Day celebration this year will be preceded by a side-event day on May 2, 2016 which will provide an opportunity to highlight the links between press freedom, a culture of openness and the right to freedom of information and sustainable development in the digital age.
This year’s celebration would highlight the role of journalism as a specialised exercise of the right to free expression guided by professional standards and public interest.
The World Press Freedom Day’s main event co-hosted by UNESCO and the Government of Finland from May 2 to 4, 2016, will include the Opening Ceremony, Plenary Sessions, Parallel Roundtable Sessions, and the Award Ceremony of the prestigious UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Day Prize.
From May 3 to 4, 2016, UNESCO and the UNESCO Chair at University of Gothenburg are organizing a two-day Research Conference on Safety of Journalists in collaboration with International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR), University of Sheffield, University of Helsinki and University of Tampere. This will be part of a series of special academic sessions in order to discuss the UNESCO Research Agenda on Safety of Journalists and to invite scholars to share their ongoing research.
UNESCO received over 180 creative posters for the global competition which aimed at highlighting the main theme of the year. Marc James from Jamaica designed the winning submission. Over twenty high quality proposals emerged as finalists and received honorable mention to publicly recognize their exceptional design and hard work. UNESCO features a selected collection in an online gallery.
Over 100 national celebrations commemorate this day every year.
To participate in the World Press Freedom Day 2016, visit and register here. For more information including the concept note, background materials, programme, practical information, posters and banners, contact information etc, visit www.unesco.org/new/en/WPFD.