Press Freedom Helps People around World Stand Up for Human Rights, Justice Says Secretary-General in Message to Asia Media Summit

SG/SM/17781-PI/2171
24 May 2016

Press Freedom Helps People around World Stand Up for Human Rights, Justice Says Secretary-General in Message to Asia Media Summit

Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message to the Asia Media Summit in Incheon, Republic of Korea, today:

I am pleased to send greetings to the thirteenth Asia Media Summit taking place this year in Incheon, Republic of Korea.  I commend the Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development for once again bringing together media leaders and practitioners from across the region and beyond to exchange experiences and ideas.

Your meeting coincides with the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul.  I have convened the Summit because humanitarian needs have been rising for years.  Today at least 125 million people require life-saving assistance.  Sixty million people have been forced to flee their homes because of conflict or violence.  Half of them are children.  We are also seeing a brutal and growing lack of respect for international humanitarian law.

Around the world, the scale and frequency of natural disasters is growing.  Climate change is increasing humanitarian stress.  The Asia-Pacific region has suffered deeply.  These global challenges require global leadership and solutions.  This is the first year of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  The Sustainable Development Goals provide a set of integrated priorities for people, planet, prosperity, partnership and peace.  We need you to work together with us, the United Nations, to help us achieve them.

Free and responsible media help people across the world to stand up for human rights, justice, dignity and opportunity for all.  The United Nations will continue to speak out for press freedom and the free flow of information.  These are necessary not only to inform the world about the Sustainable Development Goals, but to enable people to hold their leaders accountable for fulfilling the pledges they have made. 

The media, including, and increasingly, new online media, serve as our eyes and ears.  We all benefit from the information they provide.  Yet, all too often, journalists are threatened, harassed, obstructed or even killed in the pursuit of information.  Many languish in detention, some in appalling conditions, for shedding light on governance failures, corporate malfeasance or societal problems.

I am very concerned about the increasingly restrictive environment for media workers in many countries.  Constraints on freedom of expression place shackles on progress itself.  I will continue to urge all Governments, politicians, businesses and citizens to commit to nurturing and protecting an independent, free media.  Without this fundamental right, people are less free and less empowered.  With it, we can work together for a world of dignity and opportunity for all.  I wish you a successful and productive meeting.

For information media. Not an official record.