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A free press is essential for peace, justice and human rights for all
by UN News, UNESCO, IFJ, RSF, CPJ, agencies
3 May 2018
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres''s message on World Press Freedom Day
A free press is essential for peace, justice and human rights for all. It is crucial to building transparent and democratic societies and keeping those in power accountable. It is vital for sustainable development.
Journalists and media workers shine a light on local and global challenges and tell the stories that need to be told. Their service to the public is invaluable.
Laws that protect independent journalism, freedom of expression and the right to information need to be adopted, implemented and enforced. Crimes against journalists must be prosecuted.
On World Press Freedom Day 2018, I call on governments to strengthen press freedom, and to protect journalists. Promoting a free press is standing up for our right to truth.
Message from Ms Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO
“Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.” These words written by Thomas Jefferson in 1786, when he was fighting for the independence of his country, have a universal scope that transcends the historical moment of the foundation of the United States of America. Any State under the rule of law that respects individual freedoms, and particularly the freedoms of opinion, conscience and expression, relies on a free, independent press that is safe from censorship or coercion.
The ideal of a State under the rule of law calls for well-informed citizens, transparent political decisions, public debates on topics of common interest and a plurality of viewpoints that shapes opinions and undermines official truths and dogmatism. This shaping and informative power mainly falls to the press and the media in general, under all their guises and through various mediums.
UNESCO is actively involved in defending the freedom of expression, which is at the core of its mandate, and today celebrates the 25th World Press Freedom Day. The theme chosen this year is an open invitation to think of the relations between the media, justice and the rule of law. It is also an opportunity to examine the new challenges regarding the freedom of online press. Freedom of the press, like any other freedom, is never completely secure.
The development of a knowledge and information-based society via digital channels implies heightened vigilance, to ensure the essential criteria of transparency, free access and quality.
Quality information requires working to check sources and select pertinent subjects; it calls for ethics and an independence of mind. It thus depends entirely on the work of journalists. World Press Freedom Day is also an opportunity to highlight the crucial role played by this profession in defending and preserving the democratic rule of law.
In 2017, 79 journalists were assassinated worldwide in the exercise of their profession (with a further 260 imprisoned). UNESCO is committed to defending the safety of journalists and fighting against impunity for crimes committed against them.
World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development. (UNESCO)
Across the world, journalism is under fire. While more individuals have access to content than ever before, the combination of political polarization and technological change have facilitated the rapid spread of hate speech, misogyny and unverified ''fake news'', often leading to disproportionate restrictions on freedom of expression. In an ever-growing number of countries, journalists face physical and verbal attacks that threaten their ability to report news and information to the public.
In the face of such challenges, this new volume in the World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development series offers a critical analysis of new trends in media freedom, pluralism, independence and the safety of journalists. With a special focus on gender equality in the media, the report provides a global perspective that serves as an essential resource for UNESCO Member States, international organizations, civil society groups, academia and individuals seeking to understand the changing global media landscape.
http://en.unesco.org/world-media-trends-2017 http://en.unesco.org/themes/press-freedom-all-platforms http://en.unesco.org/commemorations/worldpressfreedomday
Human rights experts urge media protection and end to attacks on journalists on World Press Freedom Day
The UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, David Kaye, and rights experts from around the world have joined forces to highlight growing threats to media independence and diversity worldwide, particularly those affecting digital outlets.
In a joint declaration to mark World Press Freedom Day on 3 May, they emphasise the essential role of independent media in democratic societies, and express grave concern about physical attacks on journalists, as well as surveillance, marginalization and squeezing out of independent outlets around the world.
Mr. Kaye welcomed the declaration saying: “Free and independent media facilitate democratic institutions and accountability, while attacks on journalists and journalism undermine the very idea of public participation and governmental accountability.”
“Attacks on journalists are deplorable and State authorities must do more to prevent them. These attacks stem in part from increasingly irresponsible framing of journalists as ‘enemies’ by political and business leaders, but are also aimed at deterring investigative reporting in the public interest. All those committed to independent and diverse media must join together now to stop such attacks,” the Special Rapporteur stressed.
“In addition to physical attacks, those acting on behalf of the State threaten journalism on political, legal and technological fronts. They abuse public resources by placing advertisements only with friendly outlets, assert financial or other forms of control, and promote or permit media concentrations,” Mr. Kaye added.
The Joint Declaration on Media Independence and Diversity in the Digital Age has been issued by Mr. Kaye and counterparts from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights.
It also urges governments to promote media independence and diversity, emphasizes fundamental norms of human rights law and urges States to meet their obligations, and calls on others, such as the media and private internet companies, to take steps to ensure that independent media can continue to play a central role in democratic societies.
* Access the joint declaration: http://bit.ly/2rhr9SD http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/FreedomOpinion/Pages/OpinionIndex.aspx
# A few more resources: http://cpj.org/ http://rsf.org/en http://www.icij.org/ http://ethicaljournalismnetwork.org/ http://www.cfom.org.uk/ http://www.internews.org/ http://www.article19.org/ http://www.ifex.org/ http://www.amnesty.org/en/what-we-do/freedom-of-expression/ http://www.hrw.org/topic/free-speech http://www.transparency.org/ http://www.frontlineclub.com/club/news/ http://pulitzercenter.org/reporting http://niemanreports.org/ http://dartcenter.org/ http://europeanjournalists.org/ http://ecpmf.eu/news/press-releases http://www.coe.int/en/web/commissioner/thematic-work/media-freedom http://www.ipsnews.net/news/human-rights/press-freedom/ http://bit.ly/2rivZiu http://voiceofmillennials.com/ http://bit.ly/2rgH6t9 http://scalingupnutrition.org/news/reflecting-on-the-important-role-of-the-media-as-a-driver-of-change/
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9 out of 10 people worldwide breathe polluted air
by World Health Organization (WHO)
Air pollution levels remain dangerously high in many parts of the world. New data from WHO shows that 9 out of 10 people breathe air containing high levels of pollutants. Updated estimations reveal an alarming death toll of 7 million people every year caused by ambient (outdoor) and household air pollution.
“Air pollution threatens us all, but the poorest and most marginalized people bear the brunt of the burden,” says Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO. “It is unacceptable that over 3 billion people – most of them women and children – are still breathing deadly smoke every day from using polluting stoves and fuels in their homes. If we don’t take urgent action on air pollution, we will never come close to achieving sustainable development.”
WHO estimates that around 7 million people die every year from exposure to fine particles in polluted air that penetrate deep into the lungs and cardiovascular system, causing diseases including stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases and respiratory infections, including pneumonia.
Ambient air pollution alone caused some 4.2 million deaths in 2016, while household air pollution from cooking with polluting fuels and technologies caused an estimated 3.8 million deaths in the same period.
More than 90% of air pollution-related deaths occur in low and middle-income countries, mainly in Asia and Africa, followed by low- and middle-income countries of the Eastern Mediterranean region, Europe and the Americas.
Around 3 billion people – more than 40% of the world’s population – still do not have access to clean cooking fuels and technologies in their homes, the main source of household air pollution. WHO has been monitoring household air pollution for more than a decade and, while the rate of access to clean fuels and technologies is increasing everywhere, improvements are not even keeping pace with population growth in many parts of the world, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.
WHO recognizes that air pollution is a critical risk factor for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), causing an estimated one-quarter (24%) of all adult deaths from heart disease, 25% from stroke, 43% from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and 29% from lung cancer.
More than 4300 cities in 108 countries are now included in WHO’s ambient air quality database, making this the world’s most comprehensive database on ambient air pollution. Since 2016, more than 1000 additional cities have been added to WHO’s database which shows that more countries are measuring air pollution than ever before. The database collects annual mean concentrations of fine particulate matter, including pollutants, such as sulfate, nitrates and black carbon, which pose the greatest risks to human health.
“Many of the world’s megacities exceed WHO’s guideline levels for air quality by more than 5 times, representing a major risk to people’s health,” says Dr Maria Neira, Director of the Department of Public Health, Social and Environmental Determinants of Health, at WHO. “We are seeing an acceleration of political interest in this global public health challenge. The increase in cities recording air pollution data reflects a commitment to air quality assessment and monitoring. Most of this increase has occurred in high-income countries, but we hope to see a similar scale-up of monitoring efforts worldwide.”
Major sources of air pollution from particulate matter include the inefficient use of energy by households, industry, the agriculture and transport sectors, and coal-fired power plants. In some regions, sand and desert dust, waste burning and deforestation are additional sources of air pollution. Air quality can also be influenced by natural elements such as geographic, meteorological and seasonal factors.
Air pollution does not recognize borders. Improving air quality demands sustained and coordinated government action at all levels. Countries need to work together on solutions for sustainable transport, more efficient and renewable energy production and use and waste management.
WHO estimates that around 90% of people worldwide breathe polluted air. Over the past 6 years, ambient air pollution levels have remained high and approximatively stable, with declining concentrations in some part of Europe and in the Americas.
The highest ambient air pollution levels are in the Eastern Mediterranean Region and in South-East Asia, with annual mean levels often exceeding more than 5 times WHO limits, followed by low and middle-income cities in Africa and the Western Pacific.
Africa and some of the Western Pacific have a serious lack of air pollution data. For Africa, the database now contains PM measurements for more than twice as many cities as previous versions, however data was identified for only 8 of 47 countries in the region.
Europe has the highest number of places reporting data. In general, ambient air pollution levels are lowest in high-income countries, particularly in Europe, the Americas and the Western Pacific. In cities of high-income countries in Europe, air pollution has been shown to lower average life expectancy by up to 24 months, depending on pollution levels.
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