The United Nations’ 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference, and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers”.

May 3rd is a date which celebrates the fundamental principles of press freedom. On this day international community evaluates press freedom around the world, defends the media from attacks on their independence and pays tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession. 3rd of May was proclaimed World Press Freedom Day the UN General Assembly in 1993 following a Recommendation adopted at the twenty-sixth session of UNESCO’s General Conference in 1991.

In 2008 UNESCO conducted research by the Centre for Peace and Human Security (CPHS) at Sciences Po University with support by UNESCO which was focused on an analysis of correlations between freedom of the press and the different dimensions of development, poverty, governance and peace. UNESCO explains that the research has sought to use various econometric tools and data from world-renowned institutions to investigate the relationship between free press and development and to ascertain a correlation between the two.

Main results of the study confirm the importance of press freedom for development. According to the authors’ conclusions, the analysis suggests that “there is a ‘good’ correlation between press freedom and the different dimensions of development, poverty and governance”. There is a  very robust link exists between per capita GDP and press freedom, even when GDP defines not just the income level of the community as a whole but that of individuals too. The press can also play a part in improving health conditions. In countries where there is no press freedom, the share of GDP spent on health is low. Additionally, press freedom is positively correlated with education. Countries where press freedom exists have high rates of primary and secondary enrolment. Along with other indicators of good governance, press freedom creates the environment favorable for sustainable development.

This year UNESCO and the Government of Finland will co-host the World Press Freedom Day’s main event which will take place in Helsinki, Finland, from 2-4 May 2016. World Press Freedom Day 2016 is organized under the patronage of the President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö. Probably, Finland was chosen for the celebration as it is ranked as the best country for freedom of press in 2016 among 180 countries by the international organization Reporters without Borders. The second place is taken by the Netherlands; Norway is on the third place. World Press Freedom Index is the worse for Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea.

Learn more about World Press Freedom Index:

UNESCO Press freedom and development: an analysis of correlations between freedom of the press and the different dimensions of development, poverty, governance and peace:

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