World Press Freedom Day 2023: What are the origins and purpose of the day?
Proclaimed in 1993, the day was created by the UN to celebrate the importance of journalism as the key for humans to enjoy the rest of their rights.
In many places in the world, citizens do not enjoy freedom of media. Governments control output, billionaires own pluralities of newspapers, and journalists are attacked and murdered for telling the stories rulers don’t want to hear.
The United Nations came together in 1993 to announce a special day of the year to emphasise the importance of journalism and its essential role in free societies. Thus, World Press Freedom Day was born and is celebrated annually on May 3rd.
The day was established to raise awareness about the importance of freedom of the press and to remind governments of their duty to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression as enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Each year, UNESCO chooses a theme for World Press Freedom Day to highlight a particular aspect of press freedom. The theme for World Press Freedom Day 2023 “Shaping a Future of Rights: Freedom of Expression as a Driver for all other human rights,” emphasising the role journalism plays in fostering democracy and transparency.
The purpose of World Press Freedom Day
The purpose of World Press Freedom Day is to promote and defend press freedom around the world, as well as to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession. It is also an occasion to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom and to assess the state of press freedom throughout the world.
The UN lists on its website these points as the purposes of the day:
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) publishes the Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize on May 3rd, which celebrates people or organisations that have made a contribution to press freedom.
In 2022 the award was given to the Belarusian Association of Journalists for their role in supporting pro-democracy protests in the eastern European nation.