(written by Peer bukhsh)
Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right. Along with its corollaries of freedom of information and press freedom, freedom of expression serves as an enabler of all other rights. The Organization recognizes that human rights apply equally online and offline. Therefore, UNESCO is engaged in examining issues of freedom of expression and privacy, access, and ethics on the Internet.
The Organization has a long-running involvement in issues pertaining to the Internet, including the World Summit on the Information Society and the Internet Governance Forum. Journalists and media professionals are essential to our enjoyment of the “right to know.” Therefore, they must be able to work in an environment that allows for free and independent reporting. UNESCO supports independent media in conflict areas and countries in transition to enable them to play an active role in conflict prevention and resolution and the transition towards stable democracy.
To raise awareness for the fundamental role that the press plays in society and for the need to secure the security of media workers, the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize was created in 1997. Named after Guillermo Cano, the Colombian newspaper editor murdered in 1986 by the drug-trafficking mafia he had bravely denounced, the Prize honors a person, organization or institution that has made an outstanding contribution to the defense and promotion of press freedom.
The UN Plan was initiated through the International Program for the Development of Communication (IPDC). The IPDC is committed to promoting media independence, pluralism and contributing to sustainable development, democracy and good governance by strengthening the capacities of free and independent media, as well as the development of media. Since its creation in 1980, the IPDC has supported over 1,700 media development projects in some 140 countries.
Freedom of expression and information are pillars of a healthy democratic society and for social and economic growth, allowing for the free flow of ideas necessary for innovation and bolstering accountability and transparency. “Journalism thrives when media is free and independent, when journalists are safe to report, when impunity is the exception,” said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova.