UNESCO is the specialized UN agency responsible for the promotion and protection of freedom of expression and press freedom.

The Media Freedom Coalition has partnered with UNESCO since the Coalition’s inception in 2019. 

UNESCO has a specific mandate to promote “the free flow of ideas by word and image” and sees freedom of expression as an inalienable human right set down in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

UNESCO promotes policies for press freedom as well as the safety of journalists more broadly. It also leads the global coordination of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, which aims to create a free and safe environment for journalists and media workers, both in conflict and non-conflict situations.

UNESCO works with its member states and other partners to organise World Press Freedom Day on May 3rd each year, highlighting the critical importance of independent journalism as a key pillar of democracy and human rights. 

UNESCO participates in MFC discussions as an observer and makes its expertise and resources available to the MFC membership. It also administers the Global Media Defence Fund, which the MFC established and continues to support.

“Freedom of the press is the cornerstone of democratic society. Without a debate of ideas, without verified facts, without diversity of perspectives, democracy is a shadow of itself.”

Audrey Azoulay, Director-General, UNESCO

On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day 2023 – read the full message

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