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UNGA president invokes Mahatma Gandhi to call for protecting journalists
Last Updated : 04 May 2024 01:41:19 PM IST
UN General Assembly President Dennis Francis
UN General Assembly President Dennis Francis


Invoking Mahatma Gandhi's statement that "freedom of the press is a precious privilege that no country can forego", General Assembly President Dennis Francis has called for reaffirming commitments "to protecting journalists and media workers worldwide".

After posting the comment on the social media X on World Press Freedom Day, Friday, Francis issued a joint statement with Presidents Simona Mirela Miculescu of the UNESCO General Conference, Paula Narváez of the UN Economic and Social Council, and Omar Zneiber of the Human Rights Council, focusing on journalists covering the environment.

"We advocate for the strengthening of policies that promote free, independent, and pluralistic media, thereby fostering a vibrant and robust public sphere, a pillar of peaceful, just, inclusive, sustainable, and prosperous societies," they said.

"We also recognise the role of journalists and media workers, including women, in raising public awareness about climate change, environmental and disaster issues," they said.

According to Francis's Spokesperson Monica Grayely, the World Press Freedom Day this year "is dedicated to the importance of journalism and freedom of expression in the context of the current global environmental crisis".

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a message, "The world is going through an unprecedented environmental emergency which poses an existential threat to this and future generations."

"People need to know about this - and journalists and media workers have a key role in informing and educating them," he said.

He said, "It is no surprise that some powerful people, companies and institutions will stop at nothing to prevent environmental journalists from doing their jobs. Media freedom is under siege. And environmental journalism is an increasingly dangerous profession."

UNESCO reported that in the past 15 years, there have been about 750 attacks on journalists and news outlets reporting on environmental issues.

Guterres said that other journalists are also facing risks.

"Around the world, media workers are risking their lives trying to bring us news on everything from war to democracy," he said.

"I am shocked and appalled by the high number of journalists killed in Israeli military operations in Gaza," he said.

He said, "I call on governments, the private sector and civil society to join us in reaffirming our commitment to safeguarding press freedom and the rights of journalists and media professionals around the world."

United Nations
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