Yesterday, World Press Freedom Day was being celebrated with more than 100 events all over the world. The overarching theme for this year’s international event is access to information and fundamental freedoms.
‘Access to information is crucial if people are to be able to make informed decisions about matters that affect them, and to understand and exercise their rights. A broad range of independent media outlets is also vital so that people can have access to a variety of information. These media outlets can shine a critical spotlight on the exercise of power and authority and promote transparency and accountability,’ said Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende.
The purpose of World Press Freedom Day is to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom, to evaluate conditions for press freedom around the world, to defend the media from attack and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives while carrying out their work. According to the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), only 14 % of the world’s population lives in countries where there is complete freedom of the press.
When the UN member states adopted the new sustainable development goals (Agenda 2030) last autumn, the decisive importance of access to information to democracy and development was recognised once again. Goal 16.10 is to ‘ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms.’
Access to information is also one of three priority areas in the Norgwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ strategy for promoting freedom of expression, which was launched in January. Norway will work to promote greater openness and will take the initiative for the development of international norms relating to the right of access to information.
‘Cooperation with relevant Norwegian experts and with civil society partners both in Norway and internationally will be crucial for building credibility and gaining acceptance for our policy,’ said Mr Brende.
In Norway, World Press Freedom Day is being celebrated through events hosted by the Norwegian Press Association, the Norwegian Union of Journalists, the Association of Norwegian Editors, the Fritt Ord Foundation, Norwegian PEN, the International Press Institute (IPI) Norway, the Norwegian Media Businesses’ Association, and the Norwegian National Commission for UNESCO. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be represented at UNESCO’s international celebration of World Press Freedom Day, which is taking place in Helsinki, Finland.