by H. E. Jan Kavan, President of the General Assembly
World Book and Copyright Day
year since 1996, we celebrate World Book and Copyright Day on
23 April. This date was selected by UNESCO in homage to the universally
read and extraordinary authors Miguel de Cervantes, William Shakespeare
and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega. All of them had died on this day
in the year 1616.
the use of computers and internet proliferates, and the texts
of books can be copied onto discs and cassettes, a major part
of the developing world still depends on printed books. The written
word and books have been precious tools for documenting and transmission
of learning and knowledge through generations, of recording mankind's
history and social mores, our cultural heritage, of promulgating
our life sustaining value systems, for enabling us to chronicle
cumulative knowledge in our quest to understand man and the universe
around him. Each recorded piece of information has allowed the
succeeding generations to add to it instead of rediscovering it,
and thus mankind has progressed to our present level of technologically
the Czech Republic, of which I am a citizen, in homage to authors
who influenced and inspired the ordinary citizen in the struggle
for freedom and personal liberty, we established a tradition of
an annual reading marathon for 4 days during which excerpts are
read from books around the world on a particular theme. This marathon
is broadcast live on the internet and any citizen may participate.
This year's theme is Life in Truth - Homage to Vaclav Havel, and
under my sponsorship, we will celebrate part of the reading marathon
on 27 May, for one day at the United Nations.
is important to recognize and respect the legal protection accorded
to the intellectual property of authors to continue to motivate
the creativity of the human mind. The Bern Convention together
with WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) of 1971 and December 1996 respectively,
constitute such protection.
has made great strides in promoting books and their translation
into various languages. UNESCO has created a valuable international
bibliography of translations and is currently promoting books
in Africa, Asia and the Arab Region through joint projects. Thus
the United Nations system has played a crucial role in promoting
copyright protection for the authors and artists and researchers
in all fields.
hope that on the World Book and Copyright Day, UNESCO's comprehensive
guidelines to the mass media, publishers, teachers and libraries
are followed to popularize the idea of books and reading.