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Media development community celebrates World Press Freedom Day 2020

Author: Olga Komarova | 30. April 2020

World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 1993, following the recommendation of UNESCO’s General Conference. May 3 acts as a reminder to governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom. It is also a day of reflection among media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics. It is an opportunity to:

  1. Celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom;
  2. Assess the state of press freedom throughout the world;
  3. Defend the media from attacks on their independence;
  4. Remember journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty

On May 3, national and local celebrations for World Press Freedom Day will take place around the world, some in the form of online debates and workshops. UNESCO is launching a global campaign on media and social media channels, with a focus on “Journalism without Fear or Favour” in an increasingly complex media landscape. The sub-themes are:

  1. Safety of Women and Men Journalists and Media Workers
  2. Independent and Professional Journalism free from Political and Commercial Influence
  3. Gender Equality in All Aspect of the Media

The Netherlands had planned to hold the 2020 WPFD Conference from 22 to 24 April at the World Forum in The Hague. It is now scheduled for 18 to 20 October at the same venue. It will be a joint celebration of World Press Freedom Day (3 May) and the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists (2 November).

Events & Activities

Several organisations and GFMD’s members have embraced this opportunity to develop campaigns and initiatives that promote press freedom and to discuss the state of press freedom worldwide. A list of events organised by UNESCO Field Offices can be found here.

All events and activities from GFMD members and partners are listed below:

ECPMF – Virtual Talks: No lockdown for press freedom: misuse of Corona crisis to silence journalism in Europe

For World Press Freedom Day 2020, the partners of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) will host a virtual discussion on how to counter the abusive strategies used by governments to limit press freedom in the current Coronavirus pandemic.

Article 19 – Online Event: Special Rapporteurs in the launch of the 2020 Joint Declaration

On 30 April 2020, freedom of expression rapporteurs virtually launched their 2020 Joint Declaration on freedom of expression and elections in the digital age.

Hague Talks – Zoom Webinar: How can we make our voices heard in the time of COVID-19 crisis?

On 3 May, HagueTalks are hosting a webinar to celebrate press freedom and access to information, and to discuss the challenges facing all independent media. GFMD’s Mira Milosevic will be speaking at the event on the impact of COVID-19 on media around the world. This event starts at 16:00 CEST (14:00 GMT/UTC). More here.

International Center For Journalists – It Takes A Journalist: A Free Press is Even More Vital in the Age of COVID-19

To mark World Press Freedom Day, on May 4 the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) and the Embassy of are hosting a webinar discussing the importance of media freedom during the COVID-19 pandemic. More details about the event can be found here.

Free Press Unlimited and Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC) – Journalism without fear or favour

The Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC) has organised a programme, with support from Free Press Unlimited, in line with the 2020 WPFD theme of “Journalism Without Fear or Favour”. The programme will review the challenges faced by community media organisations in efforts to maintain the free flow of information. More here.

European Union, Internews, National Union of Journalists – Webinar: Information Saves Lives – Humanitarian and Health Reporting During Covid-19 in Malaysia

In conjunction with World Press Freedom Day 2020 and in partnership with the European Union, Internews in Malaysia with the collaboration of the National Union of Journalists will host a webinar on the ongoing media coverage surrounding COVID-19, with a lens on humanitarian and community-related impacts. The webinar will be held on 5th May 2020. More here.

UNESCO & the International Civil Society Organization (CSO) on the Safety of Journalists Coalition 

UNESCO and the International Civil Society Organization on the Safety of Journalists Coalition have organised an online, interactive panel on journalists’ safety during COVID-19. The event takes place on Wednesday, 6 May 2020, 13:00 – 14:45 CEST. More here.

United Nations – Online High-level Dialogue on Press Freedom and Tackling Disinformation in the COVID-19 context

Moderated by a prominent journalist, the event will feature the UNESCO Director-General, joined by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, Head(s) of State and Government, the UK Special Envoy on Media Freedom, Amal Clooney (TBC), a technology company executive, a journalist, and Younes Mjahed, President of the International Federation of Journalists, representing international NGOs. The event will be held on 4th May 2020, 17:00 – 18:30 CET. More details are available here.


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