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SPEECH OF THE SECRETARY GENERAL, UNATCOM, DR. DOMINIC LALI MUNDRUGO-OGO AT THE COMMEMORATION OF THE WORLD FREEDOM PRESS DAY ON 3RD MAY 2017

Thursday, 11th May 2017


  • Theme: Critical Minds for Critical Times: Media's role in advancing peaceful, just and inclusive societies.

    §   The Hon Minister of Minister of Information, Communication and Technology, Hon Frank Tumwebaze

  •       The Ambassador of U.S.A Amb. Deborah Malac, the Danish Ambassador and All other members of the Diplomatic Corps.

  • The President of Uganda Journalists Association and Members of the Journalism Profession
  • The  Heads of the various Organizations and Media Houses represented here

§  All invited Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

It gives me great honour and pleasure on behalf of the Uganda National Commission for UNESCO (UNATCOM) and on my own behalf to welcome all of you to this commemoration, and thank the African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME) for the nice organization. 

 

UNESCO as you may be aware is a specialized agency of the United Nations founded in 1945 to contribute to the construction of peace, human development and dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication and information.  UNESCO’s contribution to world peace and development is based on its five functions: Laboratory of ideas and foresight,Standard setter, clearing house, Capacity-building and as Catalyst of International cooperation

 

You may also be aware, that the National Commissions for UNESCO (NATCOM's) established in accordance with Article VII of the UNESCO Constitution, are the interface of UNESCO with Member States at the national level to assist government Ministries, Departments, Agencies, Institutions, Individuals, Community Based Organizations, and NGOs in developing their plans and projects in line with the UNESCO’s guidelines and programme framework.

UNESCO’s Fields of competence are Four (4) namely Education, Science, Culture and Communication &Information.   The strategic Objective under Communication & Information is Promoting freedom of expression, media development, and access to information and knowledge.

 

Strategically, under Communication and Information, UNATCOM strives to strengthen the national capacity to protect and promote the capacity of Journalists and all other stakeholders to have an enabling environment for Press Freedom.

 

UNESCO maintains and intensifies its prominence and impact as the United Nations specialized agency for building inclusive knowledge societies based on four pillars: freedom of expression; universal access to information and knowledge; respect for cultural and linguistic diversity; and quality education for all.

So the Priorities for the Organization under this programme are outlined as follows:

Press freedom,including safety of journalists;

Promotion of media pluralism and development, including the International Programme for the

Development of Communication(IPDC);

Universal access to information and knowledge for sustainable development through Open Solutions;

Digital preservation of documentary heritage through the Memory of the World programme (MoW);

- World Summit for Information Society (WSIS) follow-up;

Information for All Programme (IFAP).

UNESCO’s work in all these areas is part of our support for freedom of expression as an inalienable human right set down in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”

It is worth-noting that Article 29 (1) (a) &(b) of Uganda’s Constitution incorporates this declaration.

The World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993 following a recommendation adopted at the twenty-sixth session of UNESCO's General Conference in 1991. This in turn was a response to a call by African journalists who in 1991 produced the landmark Windhoek Declaration on media pluralism and independence.

Every year, 3 May is a date for celebrating 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 day serves as an occasion to inform citizens of violations of press freedom - a reminder that in dozens of countries around the world, publications are censored, fined, suspended and closed down, while journalists, editors and publishers are harassed, attacked, detained and even murdered. It is a date to encourage and develop initiatives in favor of press freedom, and to assess the state of press freedom worldwide.

May 3rd acts as a reminder to governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom and is also a day of reflection among media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics.

Just as importantly, The World Press Freedom Day is a day of support for media which are targets for the restraint, or abolition, of press freedom. It is also a day of remembrance for those journalists who lost their lives in the pursuit of a story.

 This year’s theme: Critical Minds for Critical Times: Media’s role in advancing peaceful,just and inclusive societies is very important.

Critical thinking means making reasoned judgments that are logical and well-thought out.It is a way of thinking in which you don't simply accept all arguments and conclusions you are exposed to but rather have an attitude involving questioning such arguments and conclusions.

Critical Time srefer to a period in a lifetime during which a specific stage of development usually occurs. If it fails to do so, it cannot readily occur afterwards

The theme invites us to understand that the time for advancing peaceful, just and inclusive societies is either now or never. It is critical in this period of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG's or Agenda 2030). Though the issue of today’s celebration cuts across all the 17 SDG's,today specifically, the SDG 16 is the most important to reflect on.

I am glad that we have given awards. Today, the World celebrations are in Jakarta, Indonesia where there is also an award of the annual UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize that was created in 1997 to honor a person, organization or institution that has made an outstanding contribution to the defence and, or promotion of press freedom anywhere in the world, and especially when this has been achieved in the faceof danger.  It is named in honour of Guillermo Cano Isaza, a Colombian journalist who was assassinated in front ofthe offices of his newspaper (El Espectador) in Bogotá, Colombia on 17 December 1986. This year also commemorates 20 years since creation of the Prize.  It is to be conferred on Mr. Dawit Isaak, an imprisoned Eritrean-Swedish journalist who has been chosen to receive the 2017 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. Mr. Isaak was arrested in a crackdown on the media that occurred in September 2001. The last time he was heard from was in 2005. His present location is unknown.

At this juncture, allow me to convey to you an announcement by the UNESCO Director General that UNESCO is spearheading   the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the issues of Impunity.

In conclusion, I wish to thank all of you for honoring this day. Please keep true the needs of the day namely: Press Freedom, Respect for the individual Journalists,Personal and Official Commitments to Press Freedom and for the media professionals acknowledgement that press freedom must go hand-in hand with professional ethics and finally the remembrance for all those journalists who lost their lives in the pursuit of a story.

 

Thank You All For Listening.


I WISH YOU HAPPY CELEBRATIONS OF THE WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY.

 

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