The Power of Pen and Paper: Celebrating Press Freedom Worldwide

UN International Days Apr 30, 2024

On the 3rd of May, we celebrate World Press Freedom Day, an opportunity to recognize the importance of journalism to our society. As is the custom each year, the theme selected for the year 2024, “A Free Press for the Planet: Journalism in the face of the environmental crisis,” is based on the pressing issues surrounding our planet’s environment. This year’s events are planned to be hosted by Chile together with UNESCO.

The Birth of World Press Freedom Day

In December 1993, following the recommendation of UNESCO’s General Conference, the UN General Assembly introduced this day to emphasize our shared dedication to freedom of expression and the press, highlighting its global significance.

But what exactly is this significance? To answer the question, let’s delve into the story of Peter R. De Vries.

Peter R. De Vries

Peter R. De Vries was a well-known Dutch investigative journalist and crime reporter who ran a highly rated television program known as ‘misdaadverslaggever’ or ‘Crime Reporter,’ which covered high-profile cases and later broke Dutch television viewing records. Tragically, De Vries was brutally murdered on a busy Amsterdam street on the 6th of July 2021, which prosecutors later revealed was due to his participation in the trial of a Dutch drug mafia kingpin.

Despite its noble mission, journalism faces grave threats globally. Shockingly, every four days, a journalist is killed for simply doing their job. Research shows that between 2006 and 2020, over 1200 media professionals were murdered, while just in 2020 alone, a staggering number of 62 journalists lost their lives on the job.

The Significance of World Press Freedom Day

Press freedom is vital for the survival of a democracy as it provides a check on government power, holding those in positions of authority accountable for their actions through the accurate reporting of information to the public. This enables citizens to make informed decisions regarding those bearing such offices, promoting transparency and thereby good governance.

At its core, World Press Freedom Day raises awareness about the importance of press freedom globally while reminding governments of their obligation to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression. It is also a day we pay tribute to those journalists who lost their lives in the line of duty and thus support the safety and independence of journalists working to bring information to the public.  

Standing in Unity for Press Freedom

As we celebrate World Press Freedom Day, let us declare our commitment to upholding the principles of press freedom and freedom of expression. In the face of the environmental crisis and myriad global challenges, journalism remains a beacon of hope, guiding us toward a more informed, transparent, and just world. Together, let us stand in unity with journalists everywhere, honoring their courage and unwavering dedication to truth and democracy.


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