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World Press Freedom Day

Video camera (Source: Wikimedia Commons/Popperipopp)3 May 2014 -- In 1993, the United Nations General Assembly established this Day "to celebrate 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". 

Press freedom is considered to be a cornerstone of human rights and a guarantee of other freedoms. Freedom of expression is essential to enable public participation in decision-making. Citizens cannot effectively exercise their right to vote or take part in public debate if they do not have free access to information and ideas and are not able to freely express their views.

Reporter Without Borders' World Press Freedom Index 2014 confirms that full-fledged democracies are often global leaders in press freedom. Conflicts also often have a negative impact on freedom of information. "The ranking of some countries has also been affected by a tendency to interpret national security needs in an overly broad and abusive manner to the detriment of the right to inform and be informed. This trend constitutes a growing threat worldwide and is even endangering freedom of information in countries regarded as democracies. Finland tops the index for the fourth year running, closely followed by Netherlands and Norway, like last year. At the other end of the index, the last three positions are again held by Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea".

Sources: Reporters Without Borders, United Nations Department of Public Information

Selected learning materials

Study Guide on Freedom of Expression
This guide introduces the main issues, international standards and protection mechanisms to guarantee freedom of expression, including press freedom.

The Virtual Freedom of Expression Handbook
The book includes cases and key documents in the main areas of restriction on freedom of expression: broadcast/film regulation, concentration of ownership, content restrictions, defamation, freedom of information, minorities, national security, print regulation, privacy, protection of sources, public order, public service broadcasting.

Education and training materials for journalists in HREA's online Library

Useful Links

Article 19

Index on Censorship

International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX)

International Press Institute (IPI)

Reporters Without Borders (RSF)

Suggested Activities for World Press Freedom Day (UNA-Canada)

World Press Freedom Day (WAN-IFRA)

World Press Freedom Day information page (United Nations)

Links to other organisations that protect and promote press freedom




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