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New York, May 3 : The United Nations is marking World Press Freedom Day on Saturday with an appeal to all States, societies and individuals to actively defend press freedom as a fundamental right and as a critical contribution to achieving and sustaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
This call was made in a joint message by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Irina Bokova, Director-General of UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), who said UN bodies are already working together and with other partners under UNESCO’s leadership to create a free and safe environment for journalists and media workers around the world.
Their message goes on to stress that this year, the international community has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to prepare a long-term agenda for sustainable development to succeed the MDGs when they end in 2015.
“Successfully implementing that agenda will require that all populations enjoy the fundamental rights of freedom of opinion and expression, the officials said, underscoring that those rights are essential to democracy, transparency, accountability and the rule of law. “They are vital for human dignity, social progress and inclusive development.”
World Press Freedom Day, which was designated as May 3rd in 1993 by the UN General Assembly, is being marked in about 100 countries and UNESCO is holding an international conference entitled “Media Freedom For a Better Future: Shaping the Post-2015 Development Agenda” from 5 to 6 May in Paris.
Also marking the Day, 31 specialists from the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system called on all Governments to promote and protect the rights to freedom of expression and information, freedom of peaceful assembly, and freedom of association and public participation.
Protection of these fundamental freedoms is essential for full realization of all human rights for all and for the achievement of related development goals. “States must develop more inclusive political processes and allow the media to play a key role in guaranteeing the right of everyone…to freely access information and engage in meaningful development related discourse.”
The experts, known as Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council, comprise the Organization’s largest body of independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world.
“Without free media to advocate for and monitor the implementation of the new set of post-2015 targets, there can be no real development for all marginalized, vulnerable or discriminated against. Not now, not ever,” declared the experts.
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UN cites press freedom as critical to reaching development goals