An International Symposium on Freedom of Expression, sponsored by the Swedish National Commission, will be organized by UNESCO at its Headquarters on 26 January 2011. Based on the premises that freedom of expression is a cornerstone of the human rights edifice, and that open and participatory communication is vital for successful development, the debates will focus on the status of press freedom worldwide, the safety of media professionals as well as the changes of the media landscape in the digital age.
The meeting will gather some 300 participants including government officials, policymakers, representatives of major non-governmental organizations and media professionals, as well as the World Press Freedom Prize winner.
This one-day event is aligned with UNESCO’s mission to foster the free flow of ideas by word and image, and its promotion of the value of information and communication for “advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples”. UNESCO has long highlighted the links between the free flow of ideas and the broader objective of preventing wars and constructing the defences of peace.
Press freedom around the globe is far from secured, and new forms of restrictions have added to the traditional ones faced by news outlets and media professionals. Intimidation, arrests and physical attacks, and in the worst cases murder are a reality faced by journalists, editors and publishers throughout the world, both in conflict and peace-time settings. Impunity continues to surround most of these crimes, whose perpetrators are largely left unpunished. Reflection on the current obstacles to freedom of expression and press freedom, and on how to ensure journalists’ safety in this context will be fostered during the International Symposium.
The digital age has brought with it key opportunities, along with dilemmas whose complexity is today the substance of heated discussions. These issues will also be emphasized during the exchange of ideas promoted in the Symposium. The possibilities that new technologies have opened for the free flow of information and the expression of opinions, their potential to advance citizen empowerment, the demand for accountability and social and human development will likely be among the examined themes.
Moreover, considerations about how to best adapt the legal and regulatory environment, combat new risks to press freedom and freedom of expression, address privacy and security implications will also need to be addressed. Other central topics to be analysed in relation to journalism in a digitalized world will be the emerging media business models, the protection of confidential sources, and the promotion of media accountability and professional standards, among many others.
A provisional programme for the International Symposium on Freedom of Expression is available in the PDF file below.
To register for the event, please visit the following link: www.unesco.org/webworld/en/fed-symposium-registration