On 2-3 May 2019, the 26th global celebration of the World Press Freedom Day, will take place in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia. Jointly organized by UNESCO, the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and the African Union Commission, the international conference will be held at the Headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa and will be focused on the role of the media in elections and democracy.
The decision by the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to host World Press Freedom Day was announced following a meeting between Markos Tekle, State Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and Ana Elisa Santana Afonso, UNESCO Liaison Office Director in November 2018. The African Union Commission through its Deputy Chairperson Quartey Thomas Kwesi, has also confirmed the Commission’s readiness to partner with UNESCO in co-hosting this global event. This follows a fruitful collaboration between UNESCO and the African Union Commission, through the Regional Coordination Mechanism Framework, in promoting freedom of expression and the role of a healthy African media in achieving the aspirations of Agenda 2063.
UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, Moez Chakchouk, welcomed Ethiopia’s decision to host the event, stating that this “illustrates the Ethiopian government’s commitment to democratic reforms, especially in the media sector, which has opened up the space for media freedoms and for strengthening the respect for human rights in the country including online freedom of expression”.
Around 1000 participants and high-profile speakers are expected to attend the event, including representatives from governmental and international organizations, the media, academia and civil society.
Since 1993, when the UN General Assembly declared 3 May World Press Freedom, this day has represented an opportunity to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom and develop joint initiatives in this area. It also serves as an occasion to remind citizens that in many countries around the world, censorship is rife, while journalists, editors and publishers continue to be harassed, attacked, detained and even murdered.
During the event, UNESCO will award the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize to a deserving individual, organization or institution that has made an outstanding contribution to the defense and promotion of press freedom.
A dedicated website and online registration page will be set up shortly on the UNESCO website and partners interested in organising panels related to the theme or partnering with UNESCO in other ways, are invited to contact UNESCO.