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UN chief ‘deeply saddened’ by Ethiopia plane crash which killed more than 150, including 19 UN staff

An Ethiopian  Airlines fight crashed shortly after take off from the capital Addis Ababa on Sunday, killing more than 150 people on board. The UN  Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement that he was “deeply saddened at the tragic loss of lives” , as reports emerged that UN staff were also among the dead.

The Boeing airliner bound for the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, took off at 8:44 am local time, losing contact with air traffic control atj Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, just six minutes later, according to news reports. The plane was reportedly carrying passengers from more than 35 different countries. 

Mr. Guterres conveyed his “heartfelt sympathies and solidarity to the victims’ families and loved ones, including those of United Nations staff members, as well as sincere condolences to the Government and people of Ethiopia”.

According to the UN Department of Safety and Security in Kenya, 19 UN staff perished in the crash. The World Food Programme (WFP) lost seven staff, the Office of the High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) lost two, as did the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Sudan, World Bank and UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) each lost one staff member. Six staff from the UN Office in Nairobi (UNON) were also tragically killed.

The cause of the disaster is not yet known, although weather conditions were reportedly good and the plane went down in a field near Bishoftu, around 35 miles southeast of the capital.

The UN is in contact with the Ethiopian authorities and “working closely with them to establish the details of United Nations personnel who lost their lives in this tragedy” the Secretary-General stated.

The disaster happened on the eve of the UN Environment Assembly when Heads of State, environment ministers and thousands of others will convene for five days in the Kenyan capital.

[ more information at UN News ]


Secretary-General's press encounter on Venezuela

04 February 2019

I’ve been following, of course with a lot of concern, the evolution of the situation in Venezuela. There have been a number of initiatives by several groups of countries. I’ve been in contact with the protagonists of all these initiatives, but the UN Secretariat has decided not to be part of any of these groups in order to give credibility to our continued offer of good offices to the parties to be able at their request to help find a political solution to the crisis.


Message on International Day of Education 24 January

Today we celebrate the first International Day of Education.

Education transforms lives. As United Nations Messenger of Peace Malala Yousafzai once said: “one child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world”. Nelson Mandela rightly called education “the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Long before I served at the United Nations or held public office in my own country, I was a teacher. In the slums of Lisbon, I saw that education is an engine for poverty eradication and a force for peace.

Today, education is at the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals.

We need education to reduce inequalities and improve health.

We need education to achieve gender equality and eliminate child marriage.

We need education to protect our planet’s resources.

And we need education to fight hate speech, xenophobia and intolerance, and to nurture global citizenship.

Yet at least 262 million children, adolescents and youth are out of school, most of them girls. Millions more who attend school are not mastering the basics.

This is a violation of their human right to education. The world cannot afford a generation of children and young people who lack the skills they need to compete in the 21st century economy, nor can we afford to leave behind half of humanity.

We must do far more to advance Sustainable Development Goal 4, to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

Education can also break and reverse cycles of intergenerational poverty. Studies show that if all girls and boys complete secondary education, 420 million people could be lifted out of poverty.

Let us prioritize education as a public good; support it with cooperation, partnerships and funding; and recognize that leaving no one behind starts with education.


message on International Day for Persons with Disabilities

More than 1 billion people in the world live with some form of disability. In many societies, persons with disabilities often end up disconnected, living in isolation and facing discrimination.

In its pledge to leave no one behind, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development represents a commitment to reducing inequality and promoting the social, economic and political inclusion of all, including people with disabilities. That means implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, in all contexts and in all countries. It also means integrating the voices and concerns of people with disabilities into national agendas and policies.

Today, the United Nations is issuing the UN Flagship Report on Disability and Development 2018 – Realizing the SDGs by, for and with persons with disabilities. The Report shows that people with disabilities are at a disadvantage regarding most Sustainable Development Goals, but also highlights the growing number of good practices that can create a more inclusive society in which they can live independently.

On this International Day, let us reaffirm our commitment to work together for a better world that is inclusive, equitable and sustainable for everyone, where the rights of people with disabilities are fully realized.


Message on World AIDS Day

1 December 2018

Thirty years after the first World AIDS Day, the response to HIV stands at a crossroads. Which way we turn may define the course of the epidemic—whether we will end AIDS by 2030, or whether future generations will carry on bearing the burden of this devastating disease.

More than 77 million people have become infected with HIV, and more than 35 million have died of an AIDS-related illness. Huge progress has been made in diagnosis and treatment, and prevention efforts have avoided millions of new contaminations.

Yet the pace of progress is not matching global ambition. New HIV infections are not falling rapidly enough. Some regions are lagging behind, and financial resources are insufficient. Stigma and discrimination are still holding people back, especially key populations— including gay men and other men who have sex with men, sex workers, transgenders, people who inject drugs, prisoners and migrants—and young women and adolescent girls. Moreover, one in four people living with HIV do not know that they have the virus, impeding them from making informed decisions on prevention, treatment and other care and support services.

There is still time -- to scale-up testing for HIV; to enable more people to access treatment; to increase resources needed to prevent new infections; and to end the stigma. At this critical juncture, we need to take the right turn now.


Violence against women a ‘mark of shame’ on our societies, says UN chief on World Day

Violence against women and girls is not only a fundamental human rights issue but also a “moral affront” against them and a “mark of shame” on all societies, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has said, calling greater action by everyone around the world to root out the scourge.

In a message on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, Mr. Guterres also underscored that such violence and abuse is a major obstacle to inclusive, equitable and sustainable development.

“Not until the half of our population represented by women and girls can live free from fear, violence and everyday insecurity, can we truly say we live in a fair and equal world,” said the Secretary-General.

The UN chief also noted that at its core, violence against women and girls is the manifestation of a profound lack of respect – a failure by men to recognize the inherent equality and dignity of women – and that it is tied to the broader issues of power and control in societies.

“We live in a male-dominated society,” he said, adding that women are made vulnerable to violence through the multiple ways in which they are kept unequal, harming the individual and has far-reaching consequences for families and society.

The violence, he said, can take many forms: domestic attacks to trafficking, from sexual violence in conflict to child marriage, genital mutilation and femicide.

In his message, the Secretary-General said that increasing public disclosure by women from all regions and all walks of life of the sexual harassment they faced is galvanizing power of women’s movements to drive action to eliminate harassment and violence everywhere.

This year, the global United Nations UNiTE campaign to end violence against women and girls is highlighting our support for survivors and advocates under the theme ‘Orange the World: #HearMeToo’.

“With orange as the unifying colour of solidarity, the #HearMeToo hashtag is designed to send a clear message: violence against women and girls must end now, and we all have a role to play,” said Mr. Guterres.

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Related video from- UN Women


Remarks on Climate Change - 10 September 2018

Ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you for coming to UN Headquarters today.
I have asked you here to sound the alarm.
Climate change is the defining issue of our time – and we are at a defining moment. We face a direct existential threat.
Climate change is moving faster than we are.
If we do not change course by 2020, we risk missing the point where we can avoid runaway climate change, with disastrous consequences for people and all the natural systems that sustain us.
That is why, today, I am appealing for leadership – from politicians and leaders, from business and scientists, and from the public everywhere.
We must break the paralysis.
We have the moral and financial reasons to act.
We have the tools to make our actions effective.
What we still lack – even after the Paris Agreement -- is leadership and the ambition to do what is needed.
My friends,
Let there be no doubt about the urgency of the crisis.

We are experiencing record-breaking temperatures around the world.
According to the World Meteorological Organization, the past two decades included 18 of the warmest years since 1850, when records began.
This year is shaping up to be the fourth hottest.
Extreme heatwaves, wildfires, storms and floods are leaving a trail of death and devastation.
Last month the state of Kerala in India suffered its worst monsoon flooding in recent history, killing 400 people and driving 1 million more from their homes.
We now know that Hurricane Maria killed almost 3,000 people in Puerto Rico last year, making it one of the deadliest extreme weather disasters in U.S. history.
Many of these people died in the months after the storm because they lacked access to electricity, clean water and proper healthcare due to the hurricane.
What makes all of this even more disturbing is that we were warned.
Scientists have been telling us for decades. Over and over again.
Far too many leaders have refused to listen.
Far too few have acted with the vision the science demands.
We see the results.
In some cases, they are approaching scientists’ worst-case scenarios.
Arctic sea ice is disappearing faster than we imagined possible.
This year, for the first time, thick permanent sea ice north of Greenland began to break up.
This dramatic warming in the Arctic is affecting weather patterns across the northern hemisphere.
Wildfires are lasting longer and spreading further.

Some of these blazes are so big that they send soot and ash around the world, blackening glaciers and ice caps, making them melt even faster.
Oceans are becoming more acidic, threatening the foundation of the food chains that sustain life.
Corals are dying in vast amounts, further depleting vital fisheries.
And, on land, the high level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is making rice crops less nutritious, threatening well-being and food security for billions of people.
As climate change intensifies, water will become more scarce.
We will find it harder to feed ourselves.
Extinction rates will spike as vital habitats decline.
More and more people will be forced to migrate from their homes as the land they depend on becomes less able to support them.
This is already leading to local conflicts over dwindling resources.
This past May, the World Meteorological Organization reported that the planet marked another grim milestone: the highest monthly average for carbon dioxide levels ever recorded.
Four hundred parts per million has long been seen as a critical threshold.
We have now surpassed 411 parts per millions and the concentrations continue to rise.
This the highest concentration in 3 million years.
Dear friends,
We know what is happening to our planet.
We know what we need to do.
And we even know how to do it.
But sadly, the ambition of our action is nowhere near where it needs to be.

When world leaders signed the Paris Agreement on climate change three years ago, they pledged to stop temperatures rising by 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to work to keep the increase as close as possible to 1.5 degrees.
These targets were the bare minimum to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
But scientists tell us that we are far off track.
According to a UN study, the commitments made so far by Parties to the Paris Agreement represent just one-third of what is needed.
The mountain in front of us is very high.
But it is not insurmountable.
We know how to scale it.
Put simply, we need to put the brake on deadly greenhouse gas emissions and drive climate action.
We need to rapidly shift away from our dependence on fossil fuels.
We need to replace them with clean energy from water, wind and sun.
We must halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and change the way we farm.
We need to embrace the circular economy and resource efficiency.
Our cities and transport sectors will need to be overhauled.
How we heat, cool and light our buildings will need to be rethought so we waste less energy.
And this is where the conversation becomes exciting.
Because, so much of the conversation on climate change focuses on the doom and gloom.
Warnings are necessary. But fear will not get the job done.
No, what captures my imagination is the vast opportunity afforded by climate action.
My friends,

Enormous benefits await humankind if we can rise to the climate challenge.
A great many of these benefits are economic.
I have heard the argument – usually from vested interests -- that tackling climate change is expensive and could harm economic growth.
This is hogwash.
In fact, the opposite is true.
We are experiencing huge economic losses due to climate change.
Over the past decade, extreme weather and the health impact of burning fossil fuels have cost the American economy at least 240 billion dollars a year.
This cost will explode by 50 per cent in the coming decade alone.
By 2030, the loss of productivity caused by a hotter world could cost the global economy 2 trillion dollars.
More and more studies also show the enormous benefits of climate action.
Last week I was at the launch of the New Climate Economy report from the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate Change.
It shows that that climate action and socio-economic progress are mutually supportive, with gains of 26 trillion dollars predicted by 2030 compared with business as usual.
For example, for every dollar spent restoring degraded forests, as much as $30 dollars can be recouped in economic benefits and poverty reduction.
Restoring degraded lands means better lives and income for farmers and pastoralists and less pressure to migrate to cities.
Climate-resilient water supply and sanitation could save the lives of more than 360,000 infants every year.
And clean air has vast benefits for public health.

The International Labour Organization reports that common sense green economy policies could create 24 million new jobs globally by 2030.
In China and the United States, new renewable energy jobs now outstrip those created in the oil and gas industries.
And, in Bangladesh the installation of more than four million solar home systems has created more than 115,000 jobs and saved rural households over 400 million dollars in polluting fuels.
So, not only would a shift to renewable energy save money, it would also create new jobs, waste less water, boost food production and clean the polluted air that is killing us.
There is nothing to lose from acting; there is everything to gain.
Now, there are still many who think the challenge is too great.
I disagree.
Humankind has confronted and overcome immense challenges before; challenges that have required us to work together and to put aside division and difference to fight a common threat.
That was how the United Nations came into being.
It is how we have helped end wars, stop diseases, reduce global poverty and heal the ozone hole.
Now we stand at an existential crossroad.
If we are to take the right path – the only sensible path -- we will have to muster the full force of human ingenuity.
That ingenuity exists and is already providing solutions.
Dear friends,
Technology is on our side in the battle to address climate change.
The rise of renewable energy has been tremendous.

Today, it is competitive with – and even cheaper – than coal and oil, especially if one factors in the cost of pollution.
Last year, China invested 126 billion dollars in renewable energy, an increase of 30 per cent on the previous year.
Sweden is set to hit its 2030 target for renewable energy this year – 12 years early.
By 2030, wind and solar energy could power more than a third of Europe.
Morocco is building a solar farm the size of Paris that will power more than one million homes by 2020 with clean, affordable energy.
Scotland has opened the world’s first floating wind farm.
In Thailand, the Solar Power Company Group -- led by a woman -- saw potential in the incentives provided by the Government and further unlocked private financing to construct 36 solar farms accounting for nearly 20 per cent of the country’s solar production.
There are other signs of hope.
Countries rich in fossil fuels, such as the Gulf States and Norway, are exploring ways to diversify their economies.
Saudi Arabia is investing heavily in renewables to move from an oil economy to an energy economy.
Norway’s 1 trillion-dollar sovereign wealth fund – the largest in the world – has moved away from investments in coal and has dropped a number of palm and pulp-paper companies because of the forests they destroy.
There are also promising signs that businesses are waking up to the benefits of climate action.
More than 130 of the world’s largest and most influential businesses plan to power their operations with 100 per cent renewable energy.
Eighteen multinationals will shift to electric vehicle fleets.
And more than 400 firms will develop targets based on the latest science in order to manage their emissions.

One of the world’s biggest insurers – Allianz -- will stop insuring coal-fired power plants.
Investments are shifting too.
More than 250 investors representing 28 trillion dollars in assets have signed on to the Climate Action 100+ initiative.
They have committed to engage with the world’s largest corporate greenhouse gas emitters to improve their climate performance and ensure transparent disclosure of emissions.
Many such examples are going to be showcased this week at the important Global Climate Action Summit being convened by Governor Brown in California.
All these pioneers have seen the future.
They are betting on green because they understand this is the path to prosperity and peace on a healthy planet.
The alternative is a dark and dangerous future.
These are all important strides.
But they are not enough.
The transition to a cleaner, greener future needs to speed up.
We stand at a truly “use it or lose it” moment.
Over the next decade or so, the world will invest some 90 trillion dollars in infrastructure. We must ensure it is sustainable or we will lock in a high-polluting dangerous future.
And for that to happen, the leaders of the world need to step up.
The private sector is poised to move, and many are doing so.
But a lack of decisive government action is causing uncertainty in the markets and concern about the future of the Paris Agreement.
We can’t let this happen.

Exciting technologies are waiting to come online – cleaner fuels, alternative building materials, better batteries and advances in farming and land use.
These and other innovations can have a major role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, so we can hit the Paris targets and inject the greater ambition that is so urgently needed.
But they will only become a reality if governments and industries invest in research and development.
Governments must also end harmful subsidies for fossil fuels, and institute carbon pricing that reflects the true cost of polluting greenhouse gas emissions and incentivizes the clean energy transition.
Dear friends,
I have spoken of the emergency we face, the benefits of action and the feasibility of a climate-friendly transformation.
There is another reason to act -- moral duty.
The world’s richest nations are the most responsible for the climate crisis, yet the effects are being felt first and worst by the poorest nations and most vulnerable people and communities.
We already see this injustice in the incessant and increasing cycle of extreme droughts and ever more powerful storms.
Women and girls, in particular, will pay the price – not only because their lives will become harder but because, in times of disaster, women and girls always suffer disproportionally.
Richer nations must therefore not only cut their emissions but do more to ensure that the most vulnerable can develop the necessary resilience to survive the damage these emissions are causing.
It is important to note that, because carbon dioxide is long-lasting in the atmosphere, the climate changes we are already seeing will persist for decades to come.
It is necessary for all nations to adapt, and for the richer ones to assist the most vulnerable.

Dear friends,
This is the message I will make loud and clear around the globe and directly to world leaders at this month’s General Assembly in New York.
I will tell them that climate change is the great challenge of our time.
I will say that, thanks to science, we know its size and nature.
I will emphasize that we have the ingenuity, resources and tools to face it.
And I will stress that leaders must lead.
We have the moral and financial incentives to act.
What is missing – still, even after Paris – is leadership, a sense of urgency and a true commitment to a decisive multilateral response.
Negotiations towards implementation guidelines for operationalizing the Paris Agreement ended yesterday in Bangkok with some progress -- but far from enough.
The next key moment is in Poland in December.
I call on leaders to use every opportunity between now and then -- the G7 and G20 gatherings as well as meetings of the General Assembly, World Bank and International Monetary Fund -- to resolve the sticking points.
We cannot allow Katowice to remind us of Copenhagen.
The time has come for our leaders to show they care about the people whose fate they hold in their hands.
We need them to show they care about the future – and the present.
That is why I am so pleased to have such a strong representation of youth in the audience today.
It is imperative that civil society -- youth, women’s groups, the private sector, communities of faith, scientists and grassroots movements around the world -- call their leaders to account.
I call -- in particular -- on women’s leadership.

When women are empowered to lead, they are the drivers of solutions.
Nothing less than our future and the fate of humankind depends on how we rise to the climate challenge.
It affects every aspect of the work of the United Nations.
Keeping our planet’s warming to well below 2 degrees is essential for global prosperity, people’s well-being and the security of nations.
That is why, next September, I will convene a Climate Summit to bring climate action to the top of the international agenda.
Today, I am announcing the appointment of Luis Alfonso de Alba, a well-respected leader in the climate community, as my Special Envoy to lead the preparations.
His efforts will complement those of my Special Envoy for Climate Action, Michael Bloomberg, and my Special Advisor Bob Orr, who will help to mobilize private finance and catalyze bottom-up action.
The Summit will come one year before countries will have to enhance their national climate pledges under the Paris Agreement.
Only a significantly higher level of ambition will do.
To that end, the Summit will focus on areas that go to the heart of the problem – the sectors that create the most emissions and the areas where building resilience will make the biggest difference.
The Summit will provide an opportunity for leaders and partners to demonstrate real climate action and showcase their ambition.
We will bring together players from the real economy and real politics, including representatives of trillions of dollars of assets, both public and private.

I want to hear about how we are going to stop the increase in emissions by 2020 and each net-zero emissions by mid-century.

We need cities and states to shift from coal to solar and wind -- from brown to green energy. Our great host city, New York, is taking important steps in this direction -- and working with other municipalities to spur change.

We need increased investments and innovation in energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies across buildings, transport, and industry.
And we need the oil and gas industry to make their business plans compatible with the Paris targets.
I want to see a strong expansion in carbon pricing.
I want us to get the global food system right by ensuring that we grow our food without chopping down large tracts of forest.
We need sustainable food supply chains that reduce loss and waste.
And we must halt deforestation and restore degraded lands.
I want to rapidly speed up the trend towards green financing by banks and insurers, and encourage innovation in financial and debt instruments to strengthen the resilience of vulnerable nations such as small island states and bolster their defences against climate change.
And I want to see governments fulfilling their pledge to mobilize 100 billion dollars a year for climate action.
We need to see the Green Climate Fund become fully operational and resourced.
But for all this, we need governments, industry and civil society reading from the same page – with governments front and centre driving the movement for climate action.
That is why I am calling on all world leaders to come to next year’s Climate Summit prepared to report not only on what they are doing, but what more they intend to do when they convene in 2020 for the UN climate conference.
And it is why I am calling on civil society, and young people in particular, to campaign for climate action.
Let us use the next year for transformational decisions in boardrooms, executive suites and parliaments across the world.
Let us raise our sights, build coalitions and make our leaders listen.

I commit myself, and the entire United Nations, to this effort. We will support all leaders who rise to the challenge I have outlined today.
Dear friends,
Last week I read about 15-year-old Greta Thunberg.
After Sweden’s hottest-ever summer, she decided to go on school strike and sit in front of Parliament to demand that politicians wake up to the climate crisis.
She knows the time for debate is over.
Now is the time for action. There is no more time to waste.
As the ferocity of this summer’s wildfires and heatwaves shows, the world is changing before our eyes.
We are careering towards the edge of the abyss.
It is not too late to shift course, but every day that passes means the world heats up a little more and the cost of our inaction mounts.
Every day we fail to act is a day that we step a little closer towards a fate that none of us wants -- a fate that will resonate through generations in the damage done to humankind and life on earth.
Our fate is in our own hands.
The world is counting on all of us to rise to the challenge before it’s too late.
Thank you.


Get off the path of ‘suicidal emissions’, UN chief Guterres to urge in key climate change speech

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres is to use a landmark speech later on Monday to urge greater involvement and leadership on the part of everybody, to protect the planet and its people, from the disastrous consequences of runaway climate change.

“Climate change is undeniable” he will say at UN Headquarters in New York, and “the science is beyond doubt,” posted the UN chief in a tweet, previewing his speech about an issue which he says poses an existential threat to humankind.

“It is time to get off the path of suicidal emissions,” he reiterated in the tweet.

Mr. Guterres is going to call on governments, businesses, scientists and consumers – “to make changes” and to “be the change” that will put the planet on a path to a better future. 

In his speech – scheduled for 3 PM, Eastern Standard Time [watch live here] – Secretary-General Guterres will also outline his vision for a new Climate Summit in 2019, which he will be convening to rally the international community, to step up action in key areas inclusive sustainable energy production, economic growth, green investment and better stewardship of natural resources.

The call for greater ambition on climate action comes amid record temperature rises and extreme weather events across the globe. The last few months alone saw devastating floods in southern India, wildfires in the United States and extreme heatwaves in Japan.

When world leaders signed the historic Paris Agreement on climate change in 2015, they pledged to stop temperatures rising by more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and as close to 1.5 degrees, as possible. But scientists and a major UN study, indicate that the target is already well off-track. 

The UN chief’s message also comes ahead of the Global Climate Action Summit, to be held on the west coast of the United States, in San Francisco, from 12-14 September. National, regional and municipal leaders will gather with business people and philanthropic communities to underscore their commitment to climate action.

We will have more on this story, soon.

 play Related video



UN chief hopes Latin America and the Caribbean region will play a central role in ensuring “fair globalization”

Addressing a session of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), which opened in Cuba on Monday, Secretary-General António Guterres said the forum “is central to supporting the countries of the region in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

The meeting brings together representatives from ECLAC’s 46 member States and 13 associate members to debate the main challenges for implementing the 2030 Agenda in the region.

Mr. Guterres noted that globalization has brought many benefits, but it has left too many behind. 

Women are still far less likely to participate in the labour market – and the gender pay gap remains a global concern. Youth unemployment is alarmingly high in many countries across the world, he said.

The UN chief commended ECLAC for having been “a progressive and authoritative champion” for social justice in the global economy and “a pioneer” in integrating the economic, social and environmental development.

ECLAC has also “consistently and courageously put forward a development vision with equality as a driver of growth” he said, and focused on what he called the  “deeper meaning” of equality: looking beyond income as a measure of well-being and the main litmus test for development cooperation. 

 [ read the full story on UN News ]


Promoting a free press is standing up for our right to truth, UN Secretary-General

"Promoting a free press is standing up for our right to truth, " says the Secretary-General in his message for World Press Freedom Day (3 May) 2018. "Journalists and media workers shine a light on local and global challenges and tell the stories that need to be told. Their service to the public is invaluable.”

World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 1993, following the recommendation of UNESCO's General Conference. It is an opportunity to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom; assess the state of press freedom throughout the world; defend the media from attacks on their independence; and pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

The theme of the 2018 celebration, “Keeping power in check: media, justice and the rule of law”, highlights the importance of an enabling legal environment for press freedom, and gives special attention to the role of an independent judiciary in ensuring legal guarantees for press freedom and the prosecution of crimes against journalists. Journalism has become a increasingly dangerous activity.

In 2017, 79 journalists were assassinated worldwide in the exercise of their profession. UNESCO is committed to defending the safety of journalists and fighting against impunity for crimes committed against them. It also contributes to their training and helps the authorities in different countries to adapt their laws on freedom of expression to international standards.

The theme for 2018 also addresses the role of the media in sustainable development, especially during elections - as a watchdog fostering transparency, accountability and the rule of law. The theme also aims to explore legislative gaps with regard to freedom of expression and information online, and the risks of regulating online speech.

According to Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, “Freedom of the press, like any other freedom, is never completely secure. The development of a knowledge and information-based society via digital channels implies heightened vigilance, to ensure the essential criteria of transparency, free access and quality”.

Quality information requires working to check sources and select pertinent subjects; it calls for ethics and an independence of mind. It thus depends entirely on the work of journalists." World Press Freedom Day is also an opportunity to highlight the crucial role played by this profession in defending and preserving the democratic rule of law.

Read more about World Press Freedom Day

Full message of the UN Secretary-General  

Full message of the Secretary-General of UNESCO 

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