World Press Freedom Day in Kazakhstan promotes open dialogue between journalists and UN agencies
The event, hosted by the UN Kazakhstan Country Team, marked the first time when the World Press Freedom Day was celebrated jointly by all UN agencies in Kazakhstan.
The event was organized by the UN Department for Public Information together with the UN Theme Group on Good Governance, Participatory Democracy and Human Rights and moderated by UNESCO's social science and communication specialists.
Alexander Zouev, UN Resident-Coordinator a.i. and UNICEF Representative in Kazakhstan, chaired the event and read the official statement of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Mr Zouev highlighted that the "independent media in Kazakhstan has support at the highest levels of the UN system." After a reading of the official message issued by Koïchiro Matsuura, Director General of UNESCO, participants observed a moment of silence to honour all journalists and media workers worldwide killed in the line of duty.
Following an introduction to communication for development by UNESCO, participating UN agencies highlighted their work in the development process in Kazakhstan. All participants acknowledged the vital role of independent and pluralistic media in communication for development and in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
"We feel that the issues UN are working on are critically important for the Kazakhstani people," noted Tarja Virtanen, Head of the UNESCO Almaty Cluster Office for Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. "We would like to know how we can facilitate journalists' reporting on development issues that will give a human face to development declarations, budgets, policies and statistics".
World Press Freedom Day is an occasion to remind the world of the importance of protecting the fundamental human right of freedom of expression enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The event provided an excellent opportunity for UN agencies and media representatives to gather in an informal setting; participants agreed that such meetings should take place on a regular basis.