World Press Freedom Day 2004
"Support to Media in Violent Conflict and in Countries in Transition"
Every year, May 3rd is dedicated to World Press Freedom, to remember celebrate and emphasize the importance of press freedom, which is crucial for the functioning of a healthy democratic and free society. This year, World Press Freedom Day will be celebrated in Belgrade, Serbia Montenegro, where the central theme discussed will be 'Support to Media in Violent Conflict and in Countries in Transition'.
A Regional Conference organised by UNESCO and the OSCE will also be held on May 4 2004, following the main event where media professionals from the Balkans will be invited to discuss Media in Post-Conflict and Transition Countries.
Poverty does not always cause conflict, but violent conflict always leads to poverty. The 2004 focus 'Support to Media in Violent Conflict and in Countries in Transition', follows the United Nations culture of prevention stated by the Secretary-General of the United Nations at the Millenium summit 2000. In order to address poverty as is pledged in the Millennium Development Goals, addressing the root causes of conflict and strengthening civil and political rights is essential.
In unstable countries, the lack of sources of alternative credible information can seriously increase people’s feelings of insecurity, can exacerbate fear and frustration, and thus escalate violence and trigger conflict. Independent media can act as a catalyst to reconciliation and long-term conflict management and prevention by allowing alternative voices and providing citizens with the tools to move towards sustaining healthy democracies and preventing conflict.
Attention raised and assistance given to independent media in tension areas and violent conflict is therefore absolutely vital in supporting countries to achieve solid, peaceful democratic societies where human rights are a reality for all.
Evidently this subject opens many important issues: how to assist independent media in all phases of violent conflict; submerged tension, open conflict and post-conflict, as well as the security of journalists who risk their lives in their efforts to maintain a free flow of information.
UNESCO with its responsibility to provide a platform for dialogue and discussion has an important role to play in developing a cohesive thought process and modus operandi for supporting independent media in tension and violent conflict.