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World Press Freedom Day 30th anniversary

May 3 is World Press Freedom Day (Photo: Flickr)

Wednesday May 3, 2023, marked the 30th World Press Freedom Day, with the theme of “Shaping a Future of Rights: Freedom of expression as a driver for all other human rights”.

Media professionals and United Nations leaders gathered at the UN headquarters in New York to acknowledge the need for greater world press freedom.

The theme was defined by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), who first proclaimed the Day in 1991, following an increase of attacks on journalists and media publications.

According to the UNESCO 2021/2022 Report, press freedom declined by 85 per cent worldwide over the past five years.

The Day serves as a reminder to governments of their obligation to support press freedom, and the vital role it plays in upholding democracy.

On Tuesday, UNESCO organised a 30-year-anniversary event at the UN headquarters in New York to commemorate the day as giving prominence to the right to freedom of expression and press freedom.

At the event the Presidents of the United Nations General Assembly addressed members of the media, academia, and civil society who were in attendance.

“On this day we call upon all Member States to promote, protect and fulfil the right of freedom of opinion and expression,” the UN Presidents said.

“All human rights are universal and indivisible. It is time to create and maintain, in law and in practice, a safe and enabling environment for journalists to perform their work independently and without undue interference.”

The World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed in 1993 and marked a substantial step on the path towards establishing a free press, and protected expression around the world.

Despite its advancements to this day however, the press is still routinely under attack by those that wish to silence it.

The UN says threats against the press include, "conflicts and violence, persistent socio-economic inequalities driving migration, environmental crises and challenges to the health and wellbeing of people all around the world".

New challenges have also emerged since the turn of the century which generations of online natives have become increasingly familiar with: misinformation & disinformation.

Misinformation is the spread of false information which might or might not be intended to mislead those who read it.

Disinformation is a more malicious beast, spread with the intent to deliberately mislead those who come across it.

Despite these challenges, every May on the third journalists come together to celebrate and contemplate the following:

  • celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom;

  • assess the state of press freedom throughout the world;

  • defend the media from attacks on their independence;

  • and pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.


Happy World Press Freedom Day!


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