For information only - not an official document.
Press Release No: Note No. 86
NOTE TO CORRESPONDENTS Release Date:  2 May 2000
World Press Freedom Day to Be Observed at Headquarters

Panel on ‘Reporting the News in a Dangerous World:
the Role of Media in Conflict Settlement, Reconciliation and Peace-building’

NEW YORK, 1 May (UN Headquarters) -- An observance of World Press Freedom Day, organized by the Department of Public Information (DPI), will be held at Headquarters on Wednesday, 3 May 2000, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in Conference Room 2.  The programme, which will take place as part of the twenty-second session of the Committee on Information, celebrates the twentieth anniversary of the establishment of the DPI Training Programme for Broadcasters and Journalists from Developing Countries, with several past Programme participants as panellists.

Kensaku Hogen, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, will open the meeting.  There will be a videotaped message by Secretary-General Kofi Annan, followed by brief remarks from Claude Ondobo, Director, International Programme for the Development of Communication, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). 

Shashi Tharoor, Director, Communications and Special Projects, Executive Office of the Secretary-General, will present the United Nations perspective on press freedom.  Sorious Samura, a Sierra Leonean cameraman/editor who won the Rory Peck Award and the Mohamed Amin Award for his footage shown in the documentary film, "Cry Freetown", will give a film-maker's perspective.  Excerpts from the film, which has aired on CNN, will be shown.

  Several past participants in the DPI Training Programme for Broadcasters and Journalists from Developing Countries will take part in a panel discussion on the theme "Reporting the News in a Dangerous World:  the Role of Media in Conflict Settlement, Reconciliation and Peace-building".  They are:  Suha Amer (1995), National News Agency, Lebanon; Carlos Dada (1998), La Prensa Gráfica, El Salvador; Jemi Ekunkunbor (1999), Vanguard Newspapers, Nigeria; Refik Hodzic (1998), currently a spokesperson for the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), formerly of DANI, Bosnia and Herzegovina; Ghislene Meance (1998), Radio Galaxie, Haiti; and Vicky Morales (1997), GMA Network Inc., Philippines.  Richard Roth, Senior United Nations Correspondent, CNN, will be the moderator.  Following the panel, time permitting, there will be an open discussion with all participants.

  The observance is co-sponsored by DPI and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.  The Ebert Foundation also co-sponsors the annual DPI Training Programme for Broadcasters and Journalists from Developing Countries, established in 1980 at the request of the General Assembly.  To date, 303 broadcasters and journalists from 133 countries have taken part in the Programme, creating a network of media professionals in the field who can help raise awareness of the work and concerns of the United Nations in the developing world. 

  World Press Freedom Day 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 Promoting an Independent and Pluralistic African Press.  That Seminar, co-sponsored by the DPI 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 newpapers, magazines and periodicals reflecting the widest possible range of opinion within the community".

  There will be a full-length screening of "Cry Freetown" at 1 p.m. in Screening Room 4, on the first basement corridor near the Viennese Café. 

  For further information, please call (212) 963-6923 or (212) 963-7346; for media accreditation, (212) 963-6934; for United Nations television coverage, (212) 963-7650.

* * * * *