19.08.2011 - UNESCO

Proceedings Report for UNESCO´s World Press Freedom Day 2010 celebration available online

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On 3 May every year, World Press Freedom Day represents an opportunity to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom and to honor media professionals that have lost their lives while performing their job.

In 2010, UNESCO held its main World Press Freedom Day commemoration in Brisbane, Australia, in partnership with the School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Queensland. In addition, local celebrations were organized by over 30 field offices in collaboration with National Commissions, other UN agencies and local partners.

The theme chosen for 2010 was “Freedom of Information: The Right to Know”, recalling Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that the fundamental right of freedom of expression encompasses the freedom to “to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”.

This online report gathers articles by speakers at the conference held in Brisbane on 2-3 May 2010, and a number of other contributions especially prepared for the occasion. The authors focus on the role of freedom of information in advancing empowerment, transparency, accountability and the fight against corruption, and address the key challenges that this right faces in the digital era. They identify the part of governments, civil society actors, the media and other relevant stakeholders in furthering the full enjoyment of freedom of information, noting that, while laws to guarantee this right have been increasingly adopted the world, there remain a myriad of obstacles to their effective implementation.

The passing of freedom of information legislation should be accompanied by the establishment of appropriate information management processes to respond to information requests, as well as by governments´ active steps to proactively disclose key categories of public information. Enough capacity to effectively meet the public´s information demand should be built within the administration, within which a change of mindset away from secrecy should also be fostered. Just as significantly, the right to information needs to be actively exercised by the population at large. These issues are analyzed in the report, which highlights media as key allies in promoting freedom of information but also warns against the erroneous yet common idea that this right mainly concerns the press. Freedom of information is everybody´s right, which in turn facilitates the protection and enjoyment of other rights.

The report also includes the contributions delivered during the parallel sessions focused, respectively, on the experiences of journalists working in dangerous conditions and on threats to media freedom and freedom of information in the South Pacific. Finally, it features the speeches delivered during the ceremony to award the World Press Freedom Prize 2010, including that by Chilean laureate Mónica González Mujica. The report was edited by Martin Hadlow, Associate Professor at the University of Queensland´s School of Journalism and Communication, and Convenor of the 2010 World Press Freedom Day celebration.

The online proceedings report can be accessed here (PDF).

“The right to know is central for upholding other basic rights, for furthering transparency, justice and development. Hand-in-hand with the complementary notion of freedom of expression, it underpins democracy.”  - Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, Message on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, 3 May 2010.

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