New Delhi, May 5 — India’s recent drop of 11 spots to 161st place in the World Press Freedom Index 2023 has raised concerns among media associations in the country. The annual report by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) ranks 180 nations based on press freedom. India was placed at 150th position last year. The Press Club of India, the Press Association, and the Indian Women’s Press Corps have jointly expressed their concern over the nation’s decline in the ranking.
World Press Freedom Day is celebrated every year on May 3rd to raise public awareness of press freedom worldwide and the risks and obligations of the profession. The day commemorates the Windhoek Declaration, which is regarded as a standard for protecting press freedom globally.
The Windhoek Declaration came about during a conference held in Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, between April 29 and May 3, 1991. The conference was organised in collaboration with UN organisations and had as its main goal the promotion of an independent and pluralistic African press. There were 63 attendees from 38 different nations. On May 3rd, the final day of the seminar, the Windhoek Declaration was adopted, which comprised 19 principles relating to an independent, pluralistic, and free press.
The UN declared May 3rd as World Press Freedom Day in 1993, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 19, which addresses the right to freedom of thought and expression, serves as the foundation for the Declaration. Since the Windhoek Declaration, stakeholders have become more aware of the difficulties associated with self-regulation as a fundamental requirement for the ideal media environment.
The Windhoek Declaration’s proposals were taken into account when the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) revised its operational procedures in February 1992. Since then, the private sector has had access to the IPDC’s financial assistance under the same conditions as the public sector, with one such requirement being editorial independence. The International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) and the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) were both founded in 1992 with help from UNESCO.
Apart from these, the Windhoek Declaration of 1991 encouraged a number of regional declarations supporting press freedom and media plurality. Some of them include the Alma Ata Declaration from 1992 on supporting autonomous and diverse Asian media, the Santiago Declaration of 1994 on democratic development and media in Latin America and the Caribbean, the Sana’a Declaration of 1996 on independent and pluralistic Arab media, and the Sofia Declaration of 1997 with a particular focus on Central and Eastern Europe that promotes autonomous and pluralistic media.
In conclusion, the Windhoek Declaration has played a significant role in promoting press freedom, independence, and pluralism across Africa and other areas of the world. As World Press Freedom Day is celebrated, it is important to recognize the importance of a free press in promoting democracy, protecting human rights, and ensuring transparency and accountability. – Namibia Daily News