World Press Freedom Day in Kazakhstan promotes open dialogue between journalists, UN Agencies

3 May 2007

The event, hosted by the UN Kazakhstan Country Team, marked the first time that 3 May, World Press Freedom Day was celebrated jointly by all UN agencies in Kazakhstan. The year 2007 is the 15th anniversary both of the United Nations in Kazakhstan as well as the 'Alma-Ata Declaration' that initiated dialogue on independent and pluralist media in Central Asia.

Mr. Alexander Zouev, UN Resident-Coordinator a.i. and UNICEF Representative in the Republic of Kazakhstan chaired the event and read the Official statement Mr. Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General. Noting remarks made during the visit to Kazakhstan last week by Louise Arbour, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. Zouev underscored “independent media in Kazakhstan has support at the highest levels of the UN system.” After a reading of the official message issued by Koichiro Matsuura, Director General of UNESCO, participants observed a moment of silence to honor all journalists and media workers worldwide killed in the line of duty.

Following an introduction to communication for development by UNESCO, participating UN agencies highlighted their work in the development process in Kazakhstan. All participants acknowledged the vital role of independent and pluralist media in communication for development; they also stressed the need to promote the UN’s and the governments' work in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. After presentations, participants discussed how to improve work together to better communicate development issues in Kazakshtan.

"We feel that the issues UN are working on are critically important for the development of the Kazakhstani people," noted Tarja Virtanen, Head of the UNESCO Almaty Cluster Office for Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. "We would like to know how we can facilitate reporting on development issues that will give a human face to budgets, policies, declarations and statistics."

World Press Freedom Day is an occasion to remind the world of the importance of protecting the fundamental human right of freedom of expression enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The event provided an excellent opportunity for UN agencies and media representatives to gather in an informal setting; participants agreed that such meetings should take place on a regular basis.

The event was organized by the UN Department for Public Information together with the UN Theme Group on Good Governance, Participatory Democracy and Human Rights and the UN Communications Theme Group.

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