World Press Freedom Day highlights the contribution of journalism to sustainable development

2017-05-02

Critical Minds for Critical Times: The media’s role in advancing peaceful, just and inclusive societies is the theme of UNESCO’s main celebration of this year’s World Press Freedom Day, 3 May. The event will take place in Jakarta, Indonesia, from 1 to 4 May.

The programme of the four-day conference has been designed to raise awareness of the importance of free and fact based journalism in promoting peace and justice, and supporting the efficiency, accountability and inclusiveness of institutions, in line with the 16th United Nations Sustainable Development Goal. The event is organized with the Government of Indonesia and the Indonesian Press Council.

The 3 May celebration will be opened by Jusuf Kalla, Vice President of the Republic of Indonesia, and Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO. It will feature a plenary session on Quality journalism: a public good for just, peaceful and inclusive societies and six parallel sessions on subjects spanning media and information as a bulwark against hate speech, inclusiveness and gender equality, and violent extremism. A specific session will be dedicated to Press Freedom in Southeast Asia.

In the evening of 3 May, Ms Bokova will award the 2017 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize to Dawit Isaak, the imprisoned Eritrean-born journalist who will be represented by his daughter, Bethelem Isaak, during a ceremony that will be hosted by Joko Widodo, the President of Indonesia.

The morning of 4 May, will be dedicated to a 2nd plenary session entitled Spotlight on investigative journalism: Perspectives from Southeast Asia and beyond. It will be followed by six parallel sessions on subjects including the impact of fake news on journalism, journalists’ safety and internet universality.

Artistic freedom, a principle enshrined in UNESCO’s Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, will be the focus of three sessions on 2 and 4 May.

Notable speakers to address the conference will include José Ramos-Horta, Former President of Timor-Leste and 1996 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Richard Gingras, Vice President of News at Google, and Oscar Cantu Murguia, editor of Norte, the Mexican newspaper that had to close down operations this month following the killing of one of its journalists.

The main concerns and principles expressed during the four-day conference will be reflected in a declaration, the Jakarta Declaration, that participants are expected to adopt at the close of the event.

Also in Jakarta on 3 and 4 May, Hong Kong Baptist University will host a conference about academic research into issues pertaining to the safety of journalists with participants from many countries.

Some 30 partners are contributing to World Press Freedom Day 2017 in Jakarta with events that will feature training sessions, workshops and roundtable discussions and are expected to draw more than 1,200 participants.

Approximately 80 other Press Freedom events are being organized around the world this year and leading news organizations including Al Jazeera, El Pais and Rappler will host dedicated blogs and feature special content for World Press Freedom Day. An awareness-campaign has been launched with the Cartooning for Peace Network to raise visibility on the importance of freedom of expression through a series of press cartoons.

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