04.05.2017 - Geneva Office

Geneva event highlights role of media in promoting peaceful, just and inclusive societies on World Press Freedom Day

(c) UNESCO/Thomas Croll-Knight

The Panel Discussion raised justice, education, media literacy, the rule of law and diversity as key themes in the promotion of Press Freedom around the world.

On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day 2017, the UNESCO Geneva Liaison Office and the Permanent Mission of Greece to the United Nations at Geneva, together with the support of the Permanent Missions of Austria, Namibia, Uruguay, Morocco, France, Brasil and Costa Rica, jointly organised a Panel Discussion on “Media’s role in advancing peaceful, just and inclusive societies”, held at the Palais des Nations in Geneva on 3 May 2017.

Moderated by Ms Alessandra Vellucci, Director of the UN Information Service in Geneva, the event featured the participation of Keynote speakers Ms Kate Gilmore, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Mr Stelios Kouloglou, Member of the European Parliament, and brought together an eminent panel to share experiences and perspectives on the role of the media in advancing peaceful, just and inclusive societies.

The panel included H.E. Mr Thomas Hajnoczi, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Austria to the United Nations Office in Geneva, H.E. Ms Sabine Böhlke-Möller, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Namibia to the United Nations Office in Geneva, Mr Alain Modoux, former Assistant Director-General of UNESCO for Freedom of Expression, Democracy and Peace, Mr Guy Mettan, Executive Director of Geneva Press Club, and Ms Gabriela Sotomayor, UN Correspondent for REFORMA Newspaper (Mexico).

In his opening remarks, Mr Abdulaziz Almuzaini, Director of the UNESCO Liaison Office in Geneva, highlighted UNESCO’s action in spearheading the United Nations Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, underscoring UNESCO’s commitment to “working with governments and professional associations, to establish media monitoring committees, to create national mechanisms, to train journalists.”

Addressing participants including Member States, UN partners, media organisations and civil society, Mr Almuzaini stressed that “we must continue to work together to strengthen the role of the media as key partners for sustainable development, to strengthen the foundations of inclusive and just knowledge societies”.

H.E. Ms Anna Korka, Ambassador of Greece to the United Nations Office in Geneva, also delivered welcoming remarks, drawing particular attention to the importance of international cooperation in promoting press freedom.

Ms Gilmore emphasised the complex interrelationships between press freedom, justice and human rights in her keynote statement, while Mr Kouloglou underscored the importance of education and media literacy in navigating the evolving media landscape.

In their interventions, the panellists drew on perspectives from around the world on themes as diverse as the rise of social media and the decline of traditional media outlets, the safety of journalists, censorship and trust in a digital age, and education and media literacy. The event provided a timely opportunity to assess the evolving role of the media in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Recalling the theme “Critical Minds for Critical Times” of World Press Freedom Day 2017, the discussion also provided an opportunity to pay tribute to the landmark Windhoek Declaration on media pluralism and independence made by African journalists in 1991, which, following a UNESCO Recommendation made in 1991, is at the origins of World Press Freedom Day.

The discussion stimulated lively debate with the audience, covering a broad range of topics relating to questions of press freedom, justice and freedom of expression.

For more information on the Multi-stakeholder Consultation on Strengthening the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, organised by UNESCO and OHCHR, to be held in Geneva on 29 June 2017, please visit: http://en.unesco.org/strengthening-un-plan-action

For more information on UNESCO's celebration of World Press Freedom Day 2017, please visit: en.unesco.org/wpfd

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