Only 9 percent of humanity lives in a nation with freedom of the press. May 3 is the date in which the people on earth celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom, to evaluate the significance, 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.
World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by The United Nations General Assembly in 1993 following a Recommendation by UNESCO General Conference. This in turn was a response to a call by journalists who produced the landmark Windhoek Declaration on media pluralism and independence.
At the core of UNESCO's mandate is freedom of the press and freedom of expression. UNESCO believes that these freedoms allow for mutual understanding to build a sustainable peace.
This day serves as an occasion to inform all the people on earth of the violations of press freedom. This is a reminder that in dozens of countries around the world, publications are censored, fined, suspended and closed down, while journalists, editors and publishers are harassed, attacked, detained or murdered.
It is a date to encourage and develop initiatives in favor of press freedom, and to assess the state of press freedom worldwide.
This is a reminder to governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom and is also a day of reflection among media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics. Just as importantly, World Press Freedom Day is a day of support for media which are targets for the restraint, or abolition, of press freedom.
For me it is a day to remember my former friends and colleagues who over the years have lost their lives while covering the news.