By Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha| AfroFutures.com Global Editor At Large
UNESCO is encouraging all those who are celebrating World Press Freedom Day on May 3 to observe a minute of silence in memory of the journalists who have given their lives for our right to be informed.
“The work of journalists is fundamental to press freedom, and each year we honour those media professionals who have lost their lives or paid in other ways while defending our right to be informed,” said a UNESCO spokesperson in response to email questions.
“Director-General Bokova personally invites all those commemorating World Press Freedom day around the world to solemnly observe a minute of silence for this purpose,” he added.
According to UNESCO, “21st Century Media: New Frontiers, New Barriers” is the theme of this year’s edition of World Press Freedom Day.
Events are planned in more than 100 countries to celebrate the Day, which also marks the 20th anniversary of the Windhoek Declaration for the promotion of free and pluralistic media. The Windhoek Declaration was endorsed by the UNESCO General Conference at its twenty-sixth session in 1991 and the date of the Declaration’s adoption, 3 May, has subsequently been declared as World Press Freedom Day.
“Among the highlights will be the presentation of the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. The award ceremony will be held at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. The Prize, created in 1997, is awarded annually to a person, organization or institution that has made an important contribution to the defence and/or promotion of press freedom, anywhere in the world, especially if it involved taking risks,” read a statement from UNESCO’s Communication and Information Sector’s news service.
An international conference will also be held in Washington from 1-3 May on the theme for the Day, organised by UNESCO, the U.S State Department and over 20 civil society partners. Discussions will focus on the increasing role of the internet, the emergence of new media and the dramatic rise in social networking.
This year’s anniversary will be celebrated in Windhoek, Namibia with a regional conference to review the future of the media in Africa. A publication, “So this is media freedom? 20 years after the Windhoek Declaration on press freedom”, analysing two decades of media freedom in Africa, will be launched.