30 April 1998

Press Release


An observance of World Press Freedom Day -- organized by the Department of Public Information in cooperation with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA) and the World Press Freedom Committee, a United States-based non-governmental organization -- will be held at Headquarters on Monday, 4 May, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Conference Room 2. It will precede the opening of the twentieth session of the Committee on Information.

The programme will open with statements by the Secretary-General, to be delivered by the Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, Kensaku Hogen; General Assembly President Hennadiy Udovenko; the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson; UNESCO Director-General Federico Mayor, (on videotape); and the Chairman of the World Press Freedom Committee, Senior Vice-President, Dow Jones & Company, and Chairman, Ottaway Newspapers, Inc., James H. Ottaway.

As 1998 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the observance will feature a panel discussion by international media figures on article 19 of the Declaration, which states, "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."

Panelists will include Commentator, "All Things Considered", National Public Radio (NPR), Andrei Codrescu; Editor-in-Chief and Managing Director, The Statesman, India, Cushrow Irani; Editorial Writer, Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Tokyo, Japan, Masahiko Ishizuka; Algerian journalist and novelist, contributor to Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Aicha Lemsine; President of UNCA and correspondent, Far Eastern Economic Review, Hong Kong, and U.N. Observer & International Report, Ted Morello; and National Correspondent, Univision Network News, Blanca Rosa Vilchez. The Havana Bureau Chief, Cable News Network (CNN), Lucia Newman, will be the moderator.

World Press Freedom Day, normally observed on 3 May, was established by General Assembly decision 48/432 of 20 December 1993, on a recommendation of the Economic and Social Council and as an outgrowth of the Seminar on

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Promoting an Independent and Pluralistic African Press. The Seminar, co- sponsored by the Department of Public Information and UNESCO, took place in Windhoek in 1991 and resulted in the adoption of the Windhoek Declaration.

The Declaration states that "the establishment, maintenance and fostering of an independent, pluralistic and free press is essential to the development and maintenance of democracy in a nation, and for economic development". It defines an independent press as free "from governmental, political or economic control or from control of materials and infrastructure essential for the production and dissemination of newspapers, magazines and periodicals", and a pluralistic press as having no monopolies of any kind and "the greatest possible number of newspapers, magazines and periodicals reflecting the widest possible range of opinion within the community."

For further information, call 963-6923; for media accreditation, 963-6934; for United Nations television coverage, 963-7650.

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