A Commemoration of World Press Freedom Day was held at the United Nations on 4 May. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon addressed a full crowd at the event as well as H.E. Ambassador Zahir Tanin of Afghanistan who spoke as acting President of the UN General Assembly. Other speakers introducing the event included UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, H.E. Ambassador Eduardo Ulibarri-Bilbao, the Permanent Representative of Costa Rica and current Chairperson of the Committee on Information, and President of the UN Correspondence Association, Mr. Giampaolo Pioli.
The speakers praised journalists and reporters for their work and pointed out the crucial role of media at the forefront of change. Furthermore, speakers recognized the increasing number of people who are exchanging information and views beyond previously well-defined borders.
Freedom of speech, of course, was the theme of the event. “There can be neither security nor development unless human rights are respected. The credibility of the international community is at stake in ensuring that these rights are upheld and that human rights violations do not go unpunished,” said H.E. Ambassador Zahir Tanin.
One of the key messages emphasized was the idea that while technological innovation has advanced the initiative of freedom of expression through digitization and modernization, individuals -journalists and reporters especially – have played a critical role in quickly transmitting current events from one end of the world to the other. The speakers therefore highlighted the importance in providing security and safety to journalists and other members of the media, and holding accountable those who inflict harm upon them.
“On this World Press Freedom Day, we pay tribute to all media organizations, civil society groups and individuals who devote their energies- and their lives- to ensure that our world will be just and that all people will be educated, informed and living in peace,” said H.E. Ambassador Zahir Tanin.
The United Nations’s effort to observe World Press Freedom Day emphasized the importance of the international community coming together to support journalists and reporters who often pay far too high a price to ensure widespread awareness in the world.