We ought to assess the state of press freedom worldwide,address  

02May 2019
The Guardian
We ought to assess the state of press freedom worldwide,address  

The United Nations General Assembly declared May 3 to be World Press Freedom Day  or just World Press Day to raise awareness of the importance of freedom of the press and remind governments of their duty to respect and uphold-

the right to freedom of expression enshrined under Article 19 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and marking the anniversary of the Windhoek Declaration, a statement of free press principles put together by African newspaper journalists in Windhoek in 1991.

 Windhoek Declaration is a statement of press freedom principles by African newspaper journalists in 1991. The Declaration was produced at a UNESCO seminar,  Promoting an Independent and Pluralistic African Press,  held in Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, from 29 April to 3 May 1991.  

The date of the Declaration's adoption, May 3, has subsequently been declared as World Press Freedom Day. The document has been viewed as widely influential, as the first in a series of such declarations around the world, and as a crucial affirmation of the international community's commitment to freedom of the press. Subsequently, several similar documents were drafted in other parts of the developing world: The Alma-Ata Declaration for central Asia, Sana'a Declaration for the Middle East, and the Santiago Declaration for Latin America and the Caribbean.  At the tenth anniversary of the Windhoek Declaration, however, the United Nations jubilee statement noted the fragility of press freedom in the face of political violence or authoritarianism.


Since it was formally approved by the UNESCO member states during the 28th Session of the General Conference (November 1995)[ , the Windhoek Declaration has become a major reference in the United Nations system. It is part of the New Communication Strategy decided by UNESCO's General Conference during its 25th Session in November 1989, at the same time as the fall of the Berlin Wall. This new strategy de facto distanced itself from the New World Information and Communication Order (NWICO) which was subject to controversies within the Organisation in the 1980s. These controversies have divided UNESCO and caused the United States and the United Kingdom to withdraw from the Organisation (in 1984 and 1985). The NWICO was also subject to oppositions from several professional media organisations, which saw in the New Order a means allowing states to control the media with the justification, among others, to encourage wider and better balanced dissemination of information between North and South.  

The 1989 New Communication Strategy stresses that this can only be reached  without any obstacle to freedom of expression in accordance with the fundamental purpose of UNESCO to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image.

In 2018, a conference sponsored by the United Nations alliance of civilisations was canceled.  In 2018, several news organisations joined together for an ad campaign.  Slain journalists in Kabul were remembered.


UNESCO marks World Press Freedom Day by conferring the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize on a deserving individual, organisation or institution that has made an outstanding contribution to the defence and/or promotion of press freedom anywhere in the world, especially when this has been achieved in the face of danger. Created in 1997, the prize is awarded on the recommendation of an independent jury of 14 news professionals. Names are submitted by regional and international non-governmental organisations working for press freedom, and by UNESCO member states.

The Prize is named in honour of Guillermo Cano Isaza, a Colombian journalist who was assassinated in front of the offices of his newspaper, El Espectador, in Bogotá, on 17 December 1986. Cano's writings had offended Colombia's powerful drug barons.

UNESCO also marks World Press Freedom Day each year by bringing together media professionals, press freedom organisations and UN agencies to assess the state of press freedom worldwide and discuss solutions for addressing challenges. Each conference is centred on a theme related to press freedom, including good governance, media coverage of terrorism, impunity and the role of media in post-conflict countries.