Wednesday, May 2, 2001On 3 May 2001, World Press Freedom Day will mark the tenth anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek, adopted on 3 May 1991 at a UNESCO General Conference seminar seeking to promote independent and pluralist media in Africa. The Declaration has since become an important document outlining the fundamental principles of press freedom throughout the world. In a joint message to mark the anniversary, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson reaffirmed that "a free press is one of the most essential components of a democratic society", and urged the international community to "defend and protect the right to receive and impart information free from censorship, through any media and regardless of frontiers". CJFE Executive Director Sharmini Peries noted that World Press Freedom Day has not only become an opportunity to assess the state of press freedom worldwide but also to remind governments to respect their commitments to press freedom. "Most importantly, May 3rd is a day of remembrance for journalists who have lost their lives while exercising their profession and a day of support for media who fall victim to repression and coercion," Peries said. International celebrations of World Press Freedom Day are commemorated in many ways, including international campaigns, joint protests, speaking events, special conferences and demonstrations. This year, an anniversary conference in Windhoek, Namibia, entitled Ten Years On: Assessment, Challenges and Prospects, will take place. To mark World Press Freedom Day in Toronto, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) and the United Nations Association in Canada (UNAC) have organized a panel discussion on 3 May on the potential perils of media concentration In Ottawa, the National Press Club (NPC) has planned its annual World Press Freedom Day luncheon with speakers Peter Pritchard, President of the Freedom Forum, and Corinna Schuler, Africa correspondent for The National Post. During the event, the NPC will also announce the winners of the National Press Club Press Freedom Award and its International Editorial Cartoon Competition. In Montreal, the Professional Federation of Quebec Journalists (Fédération professionnelle des journalistes du Québec, FPJQ), in collaboration with the Paris-based Reporters sans frontières (RSF), will have an evening discussion on the state of press freedom in Iran. Special invited guest will be Kazem Kardavani, an Iranian journalist, writer and professor who has lived in exile in the United States of America for over a year. For information on events marking World Press Freedom Day around the globe, please visit www.ifex.org. For more information on CJFE events, please contact David Cozac at tel: 416-515-9622, [email protected] For more information on National Press Club activities in Ottawa, please contact Spencer Moore at 613-233-5641, e-mail: [email protected] For more information on FPJQ activities, please contact Jane McElhone at 514-522-6142, e-mail: [email protected]
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