Pathways To Peace/Culture of Peace representatives participated at the United Nations World Press Freedom Day.
World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) was jointly established in 1991 by UNESCO and the United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI), in the framework of a conference held in Windhoek, Namibia. The conference, which produced the Windhoek Declaration , emphasized the idea that press freedom and the ordinary citizen’s right to information is one of our most fundamental human rights and for this privilege to be fully enjoyed, governments must be encouraged to “provide the constitutional guarantees necessary for press freedom” and for the emergence of a pluralistic press. In 1991 this appeal was specifically aimed at the developing African press however, since then, the Declaration has stood as a beacon for press freedom everywhere.
More than two decades after the Windhoek conference, WPFD celebrated on 3 May each year, continues to resonate in defense of media freedom. This year, we all have been encouraged by the unprecedented global socio-political democratic developments in which various media played an important part. Indeed, though many factors were at play in the events taking place, particularly in north Africa and the Middle East, including underlying economic woes and political suppression, which elicited mass organization especially by young people, we cannot deny the fact that the freedom to harness the power of information and communication technologies (ICTs), especially those of new media, played a significant role.
This coming together of press freedom and freedom of expression, through various traditional as well as new media, has given rise to an unprecedented level of media freedom. It has enabled the emergence of new ways to communicate, to share information and knowledge and has also allowed civil society, young people and communities to bring about massive social and political transformations.
Yet, media freedom is fragile, and it is also not yet within the reach of everyone. Furthermore, as more reporting is transmitted online, more and more online journalists including bloggers are being harassed, attacked and even killed for their work. States have a responsibility to ensure that national laws on freedom of expression are in accordance with internationally accepted principles as laid out in the Windhoek Declaration and UNESCO’s Media Development Indicators, which are both documents that they have endorsed.