09.05.2011 -

World Press Freedom Day celebrated in Geneva

To commemorate World Press Freedom Day, the UNESCO Liaison Office in Geneva, along with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, held a very successful panel discussion in the Palais des Nations on 3 May 2011.

The meeting was opened by a brief film screening, in which UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, spoke about the importance of World Press Freedom Day and the need to protect the rights to freedom of expression and the press. After the screening, Navanethem Pillay, the High Commissioner for Human Rights and keynote speaker at the meeting, emphasized the need to protect freedom of expression and the rights of journalists, as their work allows the international community to monitor and defend the realization of others human rights. Ms Pillay further noted the growing role of new technology platforms and their capacity to promote the dissemination of information.


Very fruitful presentations by panelists Steve Crawshaw, International Advocacy Director at Amnesty International; Catherine Fiankan, journalist with Fraternité Matin; and Mogens Schmidt, Director of UNESCO's Bureau of Field Coordination, provided the audience with thoughtful insight and perspectives. The impact of technology on journalism and the increasing ability of individuals to report and share events at the global level were acknowledged by the panelists.


Mr Schmidt reiterated that freedom of expression is about the right to seek, receive and impart information. This is the first, basic and fundamental human right that belongs to all of us, and those who commit crimes in order to prevent the fulfillment of this right, especially against journalists, should be held accountable.


The audience was given an opportunity to ask questions, and a lively discussion session followed the presentations of the panelists. Much progress has been made since the Windhoek Declaration, but the international community still has much to do in its efforts to fully protect freedom of the press and freedom of expression, concluded the participants.

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