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World Press Freedom Day: The Basics


IFEX's guide to World Press Freedom Day, one of the most important days honouring the important role of the media in sustaining open democracies

What is World Press Freedom Day?

On World Press Freedom Day, celebrated yearly on 3 May, people around the globe recognise the fundamental human right of press freedom, weigh the state of press freedom around the world, and pay tribute to the journalists, editors and publishers who risk their lives in defense of the public's right to know.

How did it come about?

The UN General Assembly proclaimed 3 May World Press Freedom Day in 1993 following a recommendation adopted at UNESCO's General Conference in 1991.

The day was inspired by the Windhoek Declaration, which was adopted in 1991 at a UNESCO seminar in Windhoek, Namibia. The statement promotes an independent and pluralistic press in Africa in the face of years of political violence and authoritarianism on the continent.

The Windhoek Declaration has been viewed as widely influential as the first in a series of such declarations around the world. The date of the declaration's adoption, 3 May, was subsequently declared as World Press Freedom Day.

How does the IFEX network mark World Press Freedom Day?

Many IFEX members focus on the critical theme of press freedom and its relationship to broader freedom of expression issues. IFEX publishes member actions and statements marking World Press Freedom Day on our site, promotes the day over social media, and organises side-meetings around World Press Freedom Day events organized by UNESCO annually.

I hear there's a prize!

The UNESCO/Guillermo Cano award is conferred every year on World Press Freedom Day on an individual or group that defends and promotes free expression, often at great personal risk. Created in 1997, the prize is awarded on the recommendation of an independent jury of 12 news professionals. Regional and international non-governmental organisations working for press freedom - cue IFEX members - and UNESCO member states may submit nominations.

The UNESCO/Guillermo Cano prize is named in honour of Guillermo Cano Isaza, a Colombian journalist who was murdered in front of his office in 1986 after denouncing drug barons in his country.

Where is the official UNESCO event this year?

Learn more about this year's UNESCO's World Press Freedom Day, as well as find an archive of official events and themes from previous years.

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