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World Press Freedom Day: Everything you need to know

 

IFEX's guide to 3 May, World Press Freedom Day, one of the most important days 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 webpage, available in English, French, Spanish and Arabic, showcasing exactly how our members around the world are commemorating World Press Freedom Day, and how you can learn more and get involved in your country.

I hear there's a prize!

The UNESCO Guillermo Cano award is conferred every year on World Press Freedom Day on an individual or group that defends and promotes free expression, often at great personal risk. 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 2014 award winner is Turkish investigative journalist Ahmet Şik, who has devoted his career to denouncing corruption and human rights abuses. Şik is awaiting trial on charges of being linked to Ergenekon, an alleged terrorist organization. He risks 15 years imprisonment if convicted.

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?

UNESCO will host a conference at its headquarters in Paris from 5-6 May 2014.

The theme this year is Media Freedom for a Better Future: Shaping the Post-2015 Development Agenda, and explores three interrelated ideas: media's importance in development; safety of journalists and the rule of law; and the sustainability and integrity of journalism.

More on UNESCO's World Press Freedom Day 2014, as well as an archive of official events and themes in previous years, is available here.

What can I do?

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

Click here to take action on the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers' (WAN-IFRA) campaign to highlight the plight of jailed journalists worldwide; 30 cases will be profiled in the 30 days leading up to World Press Freedom Day.

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


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