World Press Freedom Day was introduced by the United Nations General Assembly and is annually observed on May 3 to inform the international community that freedom of the press and freedom of expression are fundamental human rights. This day reminds people that many journalists brave death or face jail to bring daily news to the public.
The date chosen for this annual celebration was 3 May, which is a day of action in the form of initiatives designed to uphold press freedom, as well as a day for assessing the state of press freedom in the world, a day for warning the public and raising awareness, a day for encouraging debate among media professionals, and a commemoration of all the journalists who have lost their lives while doing their job.
The Council of Europe's action to promote press freedom and freedom of information is based on Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, under which this fundamental right is one of the cornerstones of democracy.
The Council carries out co-operation activities helping countries to draft legislation and introduce practices which comply with European standards. One of the things that it has done is set up an international group of specialists on freedom of expression and information in times of crisis. The information society is changing, so the Council of Europe now faces the challenge of upholding and maintaining its fundamental principles in new environments, the main one of which is the Internet.
History of World Press Freedom Day
World Press Freedom Day was established by the General Assembly of the United Nations in December 1993 as an outgrowth of the Seminar on Promoting an Independent and Pluralistic African Press. This seminar took place in Namibia in 1991 and led to the adoption of the Windhoek Declaration on Promoting Independent and Pluralistic Media.
The Windhoek Declaration called to establish, maintain, and foster an independent, pluralistic, and free press. It laid the importance of a free press for developing and maintaining democracy in a nation, and for economic development. World Press Freedom Day is celebrated annually on May 3, the date on which the Windhoek Declaration was adopted.
Although World Press Freedom Day has only been celebrated since 1993, it has much deeper roots in the United Nations. Article 19 of the 1948 Universal Declaration on Human Rights states that everyone “has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”'
Each year since 1997, the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize is awarded to honor the work of an individual or an organization defending or promoting freedom of expression, especially if it puts the individual’s life at risk. The award is named for Guillermo Cano, a Colombian journalist murdered in 1986 after denouncing drug barons.
How one celebrates World Press Freedom Day?
World Press Freedom Day gives people the chance to pay tribute to media professionals who risked or lost their lives in the line of duty. Many communities, organizations, and individuals take part in this day through various events such as art exhibitions, dinners featuring keynote speakers, and awards nights to honor those who risked their lives to bring news to the world.