New York Observance of the 2022 World Press Freedom Day: Journalism Under Digital Siege

Organized in partnership with UNESCO

4 May 2022

10:30 AM - 12 PM EDT

Watch on UN WebTV:

In collaboration with UNESCO, the United Nations Department of Global Communications will host a virtual event for the New York observance of World Press Freedom Day 2022 on 4 May, 10:30 am - 12 pm EDT. This year's World Press Freedom Day theme, "Journalism Under Digital Siege," examines the challenges to media viability in different regions and media sectors, identifying viable solutions without compromising the integrity and editorial independence and exploring the importance of professional practices. In addition, the session will mark the 10th anniversary of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity and discuss the new challenges that the digital world brings to the safety of journalists.  



High-Level Segment

Welcome Remarks, Moderator

Melissa Fleming
Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications (DGC)
, United Nations


Mr. António Guterres
United Nations Secretary-General

H.E. Mr. Abdulla Shahid
President of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly

H.E. Mr. Nikos Dendias
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hellenic Republic and Co-chair of the Group of Friends for the Protection of Journalists

H.E. Mr. Cristian Espinosa Cañizares
Chair of the Committee on Information (COI) and Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Ecuador to the United Nations

Mr. Tawfik Jelassi
Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

Ms. Valeria Robecco
President of the United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA)


Interactive Discussion: Media Viability and Public Trust


Guy Berger
Director for Strategies and Policies, Communication and Information, UNESCO


Michelle Ferrier
Dean of the School of Journalism & Graphic Communication at Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University in Tallahassee, Florida, and Founder of

Sukirti Dwivedi
Senior Correspondent at New Delhi Television (NDTV), Alumna from Reham Al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship Programme (RAF) 

Nishant Lalwani
Vice-President, Luminate

Ilyse Hogue
President, Purpose


Speaker Biographies

Melissa Fleming

Melissa Fleming is Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications.

From 2009 until August 2019, Ms. Fleming served UNHCR as Head of Global Communications and Spokesperson for the High Commissioner.  At UNHCR, she led global media outreach campaigns, social media engagement and a multimedia news service to distribute and place stories designed to generate empathy and stir action for refugees.

Ms. Fleming is a frequent interview guest on international media platforms, and her talks are featured on  She is author of the book, A Hope More Powerful than the Sea, and host of the award-winning podcast, Awake at Night.

Ms. Fleming joined UNHCR from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), where she served for eight years as Spokesperson and Head of the Media and Outreach.  Prior to IAEA, she headed the Press and Public Information team at the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

Earlier still, she was Public Affairs Specialist at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Munich, having started her career as a journalist.  From 2016 to 2017, she also served as Senior Adviser and Spokesperson on the incoming United Nations Secretary General’s Transition Team.

Ms. Fleming holds a Master of Science in Journalism from the College of Communication, Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts in German Studies from Oberlin College.


António Guterres

António Guterres, the ninth Secretary-General of the United Nations, took office on 1st January 2017.

Having witnessed the suffering of the most vulnerable people on earth, in refugee camps and in war zones, the Secretary-General is determined to make human dignity the core of his work, and to serve as a peace broker, a bridge-builder and a promoter of reform and innovation.

Prior to his appointment as Secretary-General, Mr. Guterres served as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from June 2005 to December 2015,  heading one of the world’s foremost humanitarian organizations during some of the most serious displacement crises in decades. The conflicts in Syria and Iraq, and the crises in South Sudan, the Central African Republic and Yemen, led to a huge rise in UNHCR’s activities as the number of people displaced by conflict and persecution rose from 38 million in 2005 to over 60 million in 2015.

Before joining UNHCR, Mr. Guterres spent more than 20 years in government and public service. He served as prime minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002, during which time he was heavily involved in the international effort to resolve the crisis in East Timor.

As president of the European Council in early 2000, he led the adoption of the Lisbon Agenda for growth and jobs, and co-chaired the first European Union-Africa summit. He was a member of the Portuguese Council of State from 1991 to 2002.

Mr. Guterres was elected to the Portuguese Parliament in 1976 where he served as a member for 17 years. During that time, he chaired the Parliamentary Committee for Economy, Finance and Planning, and later the Parliamentary Committee for Territorial Administration, Municipalities and Environment. He was also leader of his party’s parliamentary group.

From 1981 to 1983, Mr. Guterres was a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, where he chaired the Committee on Demography, Migration and Refugees.

For many years Mr. Guterres was active in the Socialist International, a worldwide organization of social democratic political parties. He was the group’s vice-president from 1992 to 1999, co-chairing the African Committee and later the Development Committee. He served as President from 1999 until mid-2005. In addition, he founded the Portuguese Refugee Council as well as the Portuguese Consumers Association DECO, and served as president of the Centro de Acção Social Universitário, an association carrying out social development projects in poor neighbourhoods of Lisbon, in the early 1970s.

Mr. Guterres is a member of the Club of Madrid, a leadership alliance of democratic former presidents and prime ministers from around the world.

Mr. Guterres was born in Lisbon in 1949 and graduated from the Instituto Superior Técnico with a degree in engineering. He is fluent in Portuguese, English, French and Spanish. He is married to Catarina de Almeida Vaz Pinto, Deputy Mayor for Culture of Lisbon, and has two children, a stepson and three grandchildren.


His Excellency Mr. Abdulla Shahid

President of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly

Abdulla Shahid is widely recognized as an exceptional politician and a seasoned diplomat, with a long and distinguished career serving in both the Government and legislature of Maldives.

Since his appointment as Minister for Foreign Affairs in 2018, for the second time, Mr. Shahid has worked incessantly to reposition Maldives as a responsible and respected member of the international community, by renewing previously strained relationships and building new ones, both in the bilateral and the multilateral domains. He has reinvigorated the country’s efforts in the multilateral arena and led national efforts to rejoin the Commonwealth after a four-year hiatus.

Maldives also won the bid to host the 2023 Indian Ocean Island Games, after tireless lobbying efforts conducted under the leadership of Mr. Shahid. The Games will be the first-ever international multisport competition held in Maldives.

As a strong advocate for gender equality, he is credited with achieving gender parity among the country’s diplomatic Heads of Missions for the first time, as well as in the country’s foreign service.

Amid the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, Mr. Shahid has been one of the leading voices in the international arena highlighting the devastation caused by the global health crisis on the economies and societies of small island developing States. He has continuously drawn attention to the inherent economic vulnerabilities of small island developing States to external shocks and their limited ability to bounce back from disasters.

Mr. Shahid began his professional career as a foreign service officer in 1983 and rose through the ranks rapidly.

In 1993, he was promoted to the post of Director, International Affairs, with the responsibility of leading the Multilateral Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He attended all General Assembly sessions from 1987 to 1994, working tirelessly to bring the issue of small State security to the forefront of the United Nations. He was a negotiator at the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and he actively participated in the World Conference on Human Rights held in Vienna in 1993.

As the Head of the International Organizations Department of the Ministry, Mr. Shahid also represented Maldives at several meetings of the Commonwealth, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries, among others. He also led the Maldives delegation at the twentieth Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Uganda and the sixth Session of the Islamic Summit Conference in Senegal.

In 1995, he was appointed Executive Secretary (Chief of Staff) to the President in the President’s Office.

He held that post for over 10 years, serving with a high degree of distinction and diligence and displaying strong administrative and organizational capabilities.

In 2005, Mr. Shahid was appointed Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and, in 2007, Minister for Foreign Affairs for the first time.

During his first stint as Minister, Mr. Shahid advocated for a rights-based approach to climate change by making a submission to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, under Human Rights Council resolution 7/23, on human rights and climate change. He drew attention to the direct and indirect effects of climate change on the enjoyment of a wide range of human rights, which reinvigorated the discourse on climate change and brought to light the multidimensional impacts of climate change. He also successfully steered the Ministry through a period of sweeping political change in Maldives, skillfully displaying a willingness to engage more widely with the international community and international human rights mechanisms.

Mr. Shahid’s illustrious parliamentary career spanned 25 years, during which time he participated in, and oversaw, major legislative progress and reform. He was a Member of Parliament for five consecutive terms, from 1994 to 2018.

Following the adoption of the newly promulgated democratic Constitution in 2008 and the first multiparty parliamentary elections in 2009, Mr. Shahid became the first democratically elected Speaker of the People’s Majlis in history, in his fourth term as Member of Parliament. As Speaker, he energetically steered the work of the People’s Majlis and managed to build consensus at a time when Maldives was undergoing a tumultuous period of democratic transition, in an exceedingly polarized political environment.

During his tenure as Speaker, Mr. Shahid served as the President of the conference of the Association of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Speakers and Parliamentarians, from 2013 to 2014, and on the Executive Committee of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, from 2012 to 2015. He also actively engaged with the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

As a leading voice of the Maldivian Democratic Party, Mr. Shahid adamantly advocated for political and judicial reform and was incarcerated for a short period for his relentless activism. As the Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Party, as well as of the Joint Opposition coalition, he played a pivotal role in mobilizing international action against injustice, corruption and human rights violations in Maldives.

Mr. Shahid holds a master’s degree in International Relations from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and completed his undergraduate degree in Political Science and Government at the University of Canberra.

Mr. Shahid is an accomplished poet and has a keen interest in astronomy. A sportsman from a young age, he enjoys badminton, cricket and football.

Born in Malé in May 1962, Mr. Shahid is married to Aishath Suiza. They have a daughter and two sons.


His Exellency Mr. Nikos Dendias

H.E. Mr. Nikos Dendias was born in Corfu. He is a Supreme Court lawyer. 

He is a graduate of Athens College and graduated with distinction from the University of Athens Law School. He holds a Master of Laws (LL.M.) from the University of London, with specialization in Shipping and Insurance Law at University College (UCL), and a Masters Degree in Criminology from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

He has been active in New Democracy since 1978. In March 2004 he was elected MP for Corfu on the New Democracy ticket. He was re-elected in September 2007, October 2009 and June 2012, winning the sole seat for New Democracy in Corfu. 

In January 2015 he was elected, with the highest number of votes, as New Democracy MP for the Athens B voting district. He was re-elected in September 2015. In the 7 July 2019 elections, he was elected MP for the Athens B-South Athens voting district, again with the highest number of votes.    

He served as Minister for National Defense from November 2014 to January 2015, Development and Competitiveness Minister from June 2014 to November 2014, Minister for Public Order and Citizen Protection from June 2012 to June 2014, and Minister for Justice from January 2009 until the national elections of 4 October 2009. 

He has served on many Parliamentary Committees and is a member of the Council of Europe’s Committees on Migration and Legal Affairs. He was elected Chair of Council of Europe Committee on Migration for 2013, and Vice-Chair for 2012. 

From January 2016 until the declaration of the 7 July 2019 elections, he was the Parliamentary Representative for New Democracy. 

He is married to Dafni Lala and has two sons, Spiros and Stefanos, and a daughter, Sofia.


His Exellency Mr. Cristian Espinosa Cañizares

Mr.  Espinosa has served as his country’s Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs since 2019.  Before that, he was Director of Interinstitutional Relations in charge of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility’s economic section, since  2018. 

From  2014 to 2018, Mr.  Espinosa served as Director of International Relations for the Municipality of Quito, during which time he represented the municipality at the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development — known as Habitat III — in Ecuador’s capital. 

Mr.  Espinosa first entered Government service in 1987.  He has held posts ranging from President of Ecuador’s Council of Chambers of Commerce and Production to ViceMinister for Foreign Trade and Integration.  He taught at various universities, including the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences, from  2006 to  2014.  Since  2004, he has also served as a panellist and arbitrator in trade disputes for the World Trade Organization  (WTO). 

The holder of a Master’s degree in public administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, Mr.  Espinosa also has a Bachelor’s and a Master’s in Philosophy and Economics from Boston University. 

Born in  1961, he is married and has three children. 


Tawfik Jelassi 

Dr. Tawfik Jelassi was appointed UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information on 1st July 2021. In this position, he is responsible for the Organization’s programmes on building inclusive knowledge societies, leading digital transformation, strategizing the role of ICT in education, and fostering freedom of expression.

Dr. Jelassi holds a Ph.D. doctorate in information systems from New York University (USA) and postgraduate diplomas from the University of Paris Dauphine (France).

Dr. Jelassi has extensive experience in higher education, scientific research, and information & communication technologies. He held academic, corporate and government leadership positions in Europe, the USA, and Tunisia.

Among others, he was Programme Director and Professor of Strategy and Technology Management at IMD Business School in Lausanne (Switzerland, 2015 – June 2021). Prior to that, he served as Minister of Higher education, Scientific Research and Information & Communication Technologies in the democratic transition government of Tunisia (2014 – 2015). Prior appointments included being Chairman of the Board of Directors of Ooredoo Telecom in Tunisia, Dean at Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées (Paris), and Professor & Chairman of the Technology Management Department at INSEAD (Fontainebleau).


Valeria Robecco

Valeria Robecco is a professional journalist covering the United Nations since 2010 as UN correspondent for ANSA, the leading Italian newswire service. She has also reported for several major Italian media outlets such as La Stampa and Il Giornale with a special focus on politics and international affairs. She is currently the President of the United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA) since the beginning of 2019.




Guy Berger

Since 2011, Guy Berger has overseen work in Freedom of Expression and Media Development at UNESCO. Before that, he headed the School of Journalism and Media Studies, at Rhodes University, South Africa. He has published more than 50 books and chapters in books, mostly dealing with press freedom and media development issues. His expertise includes media and internet policy issues. 





Michelle Ferrier

Michelle Ferrier, Ph.D., is executive director of the Media Innovation Collaboratory, an incubator for media and technology communication solutions. She is the founder of TrollBusters, an educational service for journalists experiencing digital harms. Dr. Ferrier is an internationally-recognized, award-winning technologist, journalist, scholar, researcher, author and speaker around technology and digital/online spaces. Her pioneering research mapping media deserts and monitoring and modeling digital harms has won her grant support from organizations like the Knight Foundation, Democracy Fund, and others. Dr. Ferrier has won international, national and professional recognition including three silver 2022 Anthem Awards, the AEJMC Professional Freedom and Responsibility Award for press freedom work, and the Dewey Community Service Award from SXSW. Named a 2018 Top 10 Educators to Watch by MediaShift, Dr. Ferrier has led hundreds of presentations on engaged journalism and digital technologies and developed curricula in digital media, media innovation and entrepreneurship, and online journalism and collaborated with international organizations like the United Nations, OSCE, Article 19, and other professional organizations to ensure global press freedoms.


Sukirti Dwivedi

Sukirti Dwivedi is a Senior Correspondent at New Delhi Television (NDTV), India’s leading national news network. She has done extensive ground reporting on the spread of COVID-19 in India and the oxygen crisis in New Delhi. Her work also includes sectarian riots, mob-lynchings, India's agrarian crisis and gender issues. 




Nishant Lalwani

Nishant leads Luminate's global strategy for funding independent media. This includes work in investigative journalism, press freedom, combatting misinformation, and innovative financial models for editorial independence. Nishant also leads the organisation's work in narrative change across all its impact areas, and he oversees Luminate’s strategy, learning & impact, and partner support teams.

Prior to joining Luminate, Nishant co-founded the non-profit Global Innovation Fund (GIF). As COO, he led GIF’s investment process and venture support team, making investments and grants across the world, including Burkina Faso, Pakistan, and the Philippines, as well as funding the first Social Impact Bond in Mexico. 

Nishant was also on the founding team of the Monitor Inclusive Markets (MIM) group in India, which sought to drive scale among market-based solutions to poverty. He previously worked at the UN Development Programme in Zambia, developing new financing products for supply chains that engaged small businesses. 

Nishant sits on the advisory group of the International Fund for Public Interest Media.

Source: Luminate Group


Ilyse Hogue

Ilyse Hogue is a fierce advocate for justice and a leader, innovator and coalition builder across American and global progressive movements. As Purpose’s President, Ilyse supports the global team of passionate changemakers and steers strategic planning and development. A trained ecologist, she approaches social change from a systems perspective, looking to identify gaps and points of leverage at which to intervene and proactively anticipating trends where Purpose can apply knowledge and capacity to address emerging threats.

Ilyse, who has spent over a quarter century waging fights on behalf of humanity and our planet, most recently served in an eight-year tenure as president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, during which she helped transform the legacy organization into a modern-day organizing and political powerhouse. Under her leadership, NARAL tripled its membership, staff and annual budget in service advancing state and federal legislation to protect and expand abortion access, and fighting an unprecedented wave of abortion bans at the state level. She helped to position reproductive freedom as a central tenet of progressive politics and to engage organizations cross-movement in support of the full spectrum of reproductive freedoms being fundamental human rights. In doing this, they achieved what was said to be impossible: engaging the private sector in the fight to protect abortion access.

In 2016, Ilyse made history when she became the first speaker to share her abortion story at the Democratic National Convention. In 2020, she co-authored a best-selling book, The Lie That Binds, with former NARAL Research Director Ellie Langford on the history of the radical right, its authoritarian aims, and its reliance on white supremacy, misogyny and disinformation. Her commentary has been featured in The Washington Post, HuffPost, The Nation, Cosmopolitan, and ELLE. She is a frequent guest in the media, appearing as a progressive pundit on MSNBC, CNN, and NPR. She also spoke to popular New York Times podcast The Daily about the interlocking fights against dissolution of democracy, undercutting reproductive freedom and justice and disinformation.