3 May acts as a reminder to governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom and is also a day of reflection among media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics. Just as importantly, World Press Freedom Day is a day of support for media which are targets for the restraint, or abolition, of press freedom. It is also a day of remembrance for those journalists who lost their lives in the pursuit of a story.
Every year, 3 May is a date which celebrates the fundamental principles of press freedom, to evaluate press freedom around the world, defend the media from attacks on their independence and pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession. World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993 following a Recommendation adopted at the twenty-sixth session of UNESCO’s General Conference in 1991. This in turn was a response to a call by African journalists who in 1991 produced the landmark Windhoek Declaration sur le pluralisme on media pluralism and independence.
At the core of UNESCO’s mandate is freedom of the press and freedom of expression. UNESCO believes that these freedoms allow for mutual understanding to build a feeling of sustainable peace. It serves as an occasion to inform citizens of violations of press freedom – a reminder that in dozens of countries around the world, publications are censored, fined, suspended and closed down, while journalists, editors and publishers are harassed, attacked, detained and even murdered. It is a date to encourage and develop initiatives in favour of press freedom and to assess the state of press freedom worldwide.
On 2-5 May 2022, UNESCO and the Republic of Uruguay will host the annual World Press Freedom Day Global Conference in a hybrid format in Punta Del Este, Uruguay. Under the theme “Journalism under Digital Siege”, the digital era’s impact on freedom of expression, the safety of journalists, access to information and privacy will be discussed. World Press Freedom Day 2022 will reunite relevant stakeholders such as policymakers, journalists, media representatives, activists, cybersecurity managers and legal experts to explore these issues and develop concrete solutions to address the threats posed by increased surveillance to press freedom and privacy.
We all must do more to address the risks and seize the opportunities of the digital age. On this World Press Freedom Day, I invite Member States, technology companies, the media community, as well as the rest of civil society to come together to develop a new digital configuration – one that protects both journalism and journalists.
— Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day