Every year, 3 May is a date which celebrates the fundamental principles of press freedom; to evaluate press freedom around the world, to defend the media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.
This year, UNESCO and the Government of Finland co-host the World Press Freedom Day's main event and the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize Ceremony in Helsinki 2-4 May. Finland is a model country when it comes to freedom of the press and has ranked at the top of the World Press Freedom Index since 2009. This year marks the 250th anniversary of the Nordic freedom of information decree, which is why the main theme of the World Press Freedom Day is Access to Information and Fundamental Freedoms – This is Your Right!
More than 1,100 participants from over a hundred countries are expected to attend the event, which is now organised for the 25th time and for the first time in a Nordic country. President of the Republic Sauli Niinistö is the patron of the event and will present the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize, awarded this year to Azerbaijan journalist Khadija Ismayilova. Prime Minister Juha Sipilä, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and Mayor of Helsinki Jussi Pajunen will speak at the opening ceremony.
2016 World Press Freedom Day celebrations highlight link between freedom of information and sustainable development. The link between press freedom and sustainable development is made for the first following the adoption in late 2015 of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030, which recognize the need to “ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements,” (SDG 16 point 10).
The celebration of World Press Freedom Day 2016 is organized in partnership with the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with the support of some 50 civil society and media organizations. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs has even invited journalists from over 20 developing countries to attend the event and will organise other programme related to the theme of freedom of expression during the week in Finland. The journalists will have opportunities to meet colleagues from different parts of the world and they can learn about the Finnish media, history of freedom of expression and school system.
The Ministry for Foreign Affairs has also invited about 20 journalists from Europe and the neighbouring areas. Two Kosovar journalists also join the World Press Freedom Day's main event in Helsinki.