WPFD 2011: UNESCO UK Office

Venue: Thomson Reuters auditorium, South Colonnade, Canary Wharf, London E14 5EP

Doors open at 6 pm, event 6:30-8:00, followed by drinks reception hosted by Thomson Reuters. This is a free event but registration is essential.

Every year, May 3rd is a date which celebrates the fundamental principles of press freedom; to evaluate press freedom around the world, to defend the media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.

News and images of the uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East have inspired the world. The uprisings have given journalists in the region new opportunities to report more freely, but they have also brought grave dangers. Several have been killed and dozens have been kidnapped, arrested, beaten or expelled from countries in the region, or have disappeared. State controls on the media and surveillance of the Internet are still pervasive.

To mark 2011 World Press Freedom Day, members of the UK National Commission for UNESCO and the UK Press Freedom Network are hosting a public event in London where reporters and media workers from the frontline will tell their stories. Prominent figures from the region as well as the UK will consider the global implications of these dramatic struggles for free reporting and free expression, and what lessons the West should take from the tide of recent events. UNESCO plays a leading role in the international movement to protect journalists and secure their ability to carry out their work in countries afflicted by conflict or repression.

This event is presented by members of the Press Freedom Network and UK National Commission for UNESCO and is generously support of Thomson Reuters, Society of Editors, BBC College of Journalism, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph and Sky News.

Speakers include:

    * Shahira Amin, journalist and former TV presenter for Nile TV, Egypt
    * Alanoud Al Sharekh, International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Middle East
    * Magdi Abdelhadi, broadcaster and Middle East commentator
    * Maria Golovnina, Reuters journalist
    * Mo Abbas, Reuters journalist
    * Hannah Storm, International News Safety Institute (INSI)
    * Alan Fisher, Al Jazeera English
    * William Horsley (Chair), Association of European Journalists (AEJ)

To register, please email iwhite@unesco.org.uk or phone 0207 766 3492.

The third of May was proclaimed World Press Freedom Day the UN General Assembly in 1993 following a Recommendation adopted at the twenty-sixth session of UNESCO's General Conference in 1991.

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.

It serves 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 exercise of their profession.

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