World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) was proclaimed by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in 1993 following a Recommendation adopted at the 26th Session of UNESCO’s General Conference in 1991. The proclamation was in response to the clamor of African journalists who in 1991 produced the landmark Windhoek Declaration on media pluralism and independence. The adoption of the Windhoek Declaration in Namibia paved the way for the UN recognition of WPFD.
Leading this year’s 25th celebration of WPFD is the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The theme of WPFD 2018, “Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice, and The Rule of Law,” aims to cover issues of media and the transparency of the political process, the independence and media literacy of the judicial system, and the accountability of state institutions towards the public. It will also endeavor to examine contemporary challenges of ensuring press freedom online. The main event, which is jointly organized by the UNESCO and the government of the Republic of Ghana, will be held in Accra, Ghana, on May 2-3, 2018.
In her message for WPFD 2018, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay noted how like other freedoms, “the freedom of the press is never completely secure… the development of a knowledge and information-based society via digital channels implies heightened vigilance, to ensure the essential criteria of transparency, free access, and quality.” She added: “Quality information requires working to check sources and select pertinent subjects; it calls for ethics and an independence of mind.”
The annual observance of WPFD serves to focus on the important work of journalists, and provides a venue to highlight the noble and crucial role of their profession in defending and preserving the democratic rule of law.