Tanzania: UNESCO links press freedom, sustainable development

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (PANA) - UNESCO’s flagship celebration of World Press Freedom Day (3 May) is taking place in Helsinki, Finland, this year from 2- 4 May, with the overarching theme of "Access to Information and Fundamental Freedoms" focusing on: Freedom of Information and Sustainable Development, Protecting press freedom from censorship and surveillance overreach and Ensuring safety of journalists online and offline.

According to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the link between press freedom and sustainable development is made for the first time this year, following the adoption in late 2015 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030, which recognize the need to “ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements”.  

The importance of free and independent media to inform the citizens of the world is crucial to the achievement of the SDGs, argued UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, in her message for the Day.

“At this time of turbulence and change across the world, including new challenges that require global cooperation and action, the need for quality information has never been so important—this requires a strong environment of press freedom and well-functioning systems to ensure the people’s right to know,” she said.

The celebration in Helsinki includes a two-day conference at which Bokova is scheduled to speak on Tuesday about UNESCO’s promotion of press freedom and freedom of information, and action to enhance the safety of journalists and to end impunity.

Plenary sessions will tackle a number of subjects on: Press freedom, right to information and transparency over the past quarter century; Surveillance overreach; Data protection and online censorship; Freedom of information as a fundamental freedom and human right, and, finally the adoption of a Declaration, to be known as the Finlandia Declaration, by the events’ 1,000 plus participants (media professionals, government representatives and those of intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations as well as civil society).

Also on the agenda are discussions about access to information and sustainable development goal indicators and safety of journalists, a subject of particular concern to UNESCO which denounces every fatal attack targeting media workers and advocates an end to the impunity enjoyed by the vast majority of the perpetrators.

According to UNESCO, this year’s conference breaks new ground in establishing the link between artistic freedom, media diversity and press freedom as promoted by the agency's Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expression.

This year’s celebration will end with a seminar on 4 May assessing the impact of development projects promoting freedom of expression in the Arab Region funded by the governments of Finland and Sweden.

An exhibition of works by nine young photojournalists trained by the regional project UNESCO organized with funding from Finland and Sweden are on display during the World Press Freedom Day event.

The celebration of World Press Freedom Day 2016 has been organized in partnership with the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with the support of some 50 civil society and media organizations.

World Press Freedom Day arose from a declaration signed by a group of African journalists who gathered at a UNESCO seminar on “Promoting an Independent and Pluralistic African Media” that was held in Windhoek, Namibia from 29 April to 3 May 1991.
-0- PANA AR/MA 3May2016

03 may 2016 11:52:35

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