03.05.2004 -

Today is World Press Freedom Day

Media in conflict areas and in countries in transition is the focus of the World Press Freedom Day, which is celebrated worldwide today to highlight the importance of press freedom and its crucial importance for democracy. UNESCO's main celebration will take place in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia and Montenegro.

In addition to a two day international conference "Support to Media in Violent Conflict and in Countries in Transition", the ceremonies in Belgrade will include the award ceremony of the 2004 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize to the jailed Cuban journalist and poet Raúl Rivero Castañeda.


On May 4, a regional conference for media professionals, "Media in Post-Conflict and Transition Countries", is being organized by the Organization for Security and Co -operation in Europe (OSCE) with UNESCO.


In a message issued on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, UNESCO Director-General says "The theme of this year's World Press Freedom Day is the media in conflict and post-conflict zones and in countries in transition. In such situations, the media's work to provide independent and trustworthy information can contribute significantly to processes of reconstruction and reconciliation. In times of upheaval, disorder and uncertainty, people's need for reliable information is especially great - their ability to access provisions, and sometimes their personal safety and very survival, may depend on it. However, they tend to regard much of the information available to them through the media as propaganda. For these reasons, independent and pluralistic media are particularly important in times of war and they remain at least as crucial in the post-conflict phase."


"As we celebrate World Press Freedom Day, we must reflect on ways to prevail upon governments and authorities everywhere to respect the media's vital contribution to building sustainable peace, democracy and development. We must do all in our power to provide journalists with as much safety as possible in the exercise of their profession. On World Press Freedom Day, let us celebrate the importance of media freedom for all societies, but especially for those whose journey towards recovery, stability and peace is ongoing and beset by uncertainty. Above all, let us applaud the brave men and women who bring us the news in defiance of the risks and dangers. Their freedom to do their work is inextricably linked to the wider enjoyment of basic rights and fundamental freedoms."

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