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World Press Freedom Day: The ultimate FAQ

IFEX's guide to 3 May, World Press Freedom Day, one of the most important days for honouring free expression.

What is World Press Freedom Day?

World Press Freedom Day, celebrated yearly on 3 May, is a day to celebrate the fundamental human right of press freedom, weigh the state of press freedom around the world, and pay tribute to the journalists, editors and publishers who have lost their lives for doing their job.

How did it come about?

May 3 was proclaimed World Press Freedom Day by the UN General Assembly in 1993 following a recommendation adopted at UNESCO's General Conference in 1991.

The day was inspired by the Windhoek Declaration, which was adopted in 1991 at a UNESCO seminar in Windhoek, Namibia. The statement promotes an independent and pluralistic press in Africa in the face of years of political violence and authoritarianism on the continent.

The Windhoek Declaration has been viewed as widely influential as the first in a series of such declarations around the world. The date of the declaration's adoption, 3 May, was subsequently declared as World Press Freedom Day.


What's IFEX doing?

We have created a special website, available in English, French and Spanish (and Arabic coming soon!), showcasing exactly how our members around the world are commemorating World Press Freedom Day, and how you can get involved in your country.

Our site also offers a full range of resources and materials by IFEX members, some of which you can download for free and republish yourself. Many members use the occasion to unveil their annual reports. Find out which countries are the most dangerous for journalists, who are the enemies of press freedom worldwide, and how your country ranks.

I hear there's a prize!

The UNESCO/Cano award is conferred every World Press Freedom Day on an individual or group that defends and promotes free expression, often at great personal risk.

This year's winner is Eynulla Fatullayev, an Azerbaijani journalist and press freedom advocate who spent four years in jail on trumped-up charges.

Created in 1997, the US$25,000 prize is awarded on the recommendation of an independent jury of 14 news professionals. Regional and international non-governmental organisations working for press freedom - cue IFEX members - and UNESCO member states submit nominations.

The prize is named in honour of Guillermo Cano, the Colombian journalist who was murdered in front of his office in 1986 after denouncing drug barons in his country.

Where is the official UNESCO event this year?

Journalists and other press freedom advocates will be converging at Karthago Le Palace Hotel, in Tunis, Tunisia, on 3-5 May. The theme this year is "New Voices: Media Freedom Helping to Transform Societies", inspired by the political changes - particularly in the Middle East and North Africa - in which various media, including Facebook and Twitter, played a vital part.

More on UNESCO's World Press Freedom Day 2012, as well as an archive of official events and themes in previous years, is available here.

At the event, be sure to watch out for new materials from the IFEX Tunisia Monitoring Group (IFEX-TMG), which will be launching an anthology of free expression in Tunisia, a training manual on online campaigning tools, as well as a multimedia freedom of expression campaign on 4 May. These publications will be available in Arabic, with English and French coming later.

What can I do?

Take part in the festivities! Check out IFEX's event listings to see if there's anything happening around you. We'll continue to post activities when we hear of them.

In the lead up to 3 May and on the day itself, use the UNESCO World Press Freedom Day logo, available here, as your Facebook or Twitter profile or post it on your wall.

And get up to speed on the issues by visiting our site, and sharing it with your friends!

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