UN Resident Coordinator, Alvaro Rodrigues statemnet to mark 2016 World Press Freedom Day

3 May,2016, Mwanza: Habari za Asubuhi na Asalaam Aleikhum
Ninafuraha kuwa hapa nanyi siku ya leo. Siku hii ni muhimu sana kwetu sote. Let me take this opportunity to thank the organizers and also our friends in the European Union for being key partners with the UN in supporting this event.
This year’s World Press Freedom Day’s theme: “Access to Information and Fundamental Freedoms: This Is Your Right!” is an important reminder for all of us that access to information is a human right.
Before I convey my own messages today in Tanzania, I would appreciate if you would allow me to read the UN Secretary Generals statement commemorating World Press Freedom Day.
Quote : Human rights, democratic societies and sustainable development depend on the free flow of information. And the right to information depends on press freedom. Each year, we observe World Press Freedom Day to emphasize these fundamental principles, to protect the independence of the media and to honour media workers who risk and have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.
This year, World Press Freedom Day coincides with three important milestones. It is the 250th anniversary of the world’s first freedom of information law, covering both modern-day Sweden and Finland, and it is the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Windhoek Declaration of press freedom principles. Finally, 2016 is also the first year of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.
Press freedom and the free flow of information are necessary not only to inform citizens about the Goals, but to enable them to hold their leaders accountable for fulfilling the pledges they have made. The media – including, and increasingly, new online media — serve as our eyes and ears. We all benefit from the information they provide.
A free, independent and safe media environment is essential. Yet, all too often, journalists are threatened, harassed, obstructed or even killed in the pursuit of information. Many languish in detention, some in appalling conditions, for shedding light on governance failures, corporate malfeasance or societal problems.
I am very concerned about the increasingly restrictive environment for media workers in many countries. Constraints on freedom of expression place shackles on progress itself. On this World Press Freedom Day, I urge all Governments, politicians, businesses and citizens to commit to nurturing and protecting an independent, free media. Without this fundamental right, people are less free and less empowered. With it, we can work together for a world of dignity and opportunity for all.” End of Quote
Now, in terms of my own messages, I would like to address the importance of access to information, the Global Goals, and finally the need for Partnerships.
First, on access on to information, as noted by the SG, it is fundamental to ensure it exists to allow citizens to be informed, educated and even entertained, three key functions of the media in any society. The SG has put it extremely well and I could not say it better. This is a message read all over the world and it is my duty to share it with you fully on behalf of the SG. All I would add though is that freedom of information involves a great responsibility in getting the facts right and in ensuring respect for everyone’s human rights. This is especially the case with online media, including social media, in which we have learned that many inaccurate but damaging information has been shared. I personally have experienced this mid last year.
Related to this, you may wish to note that Goals 16 specifically has a target and indicator that addresses the need for accountability and the role of the media. It even seeks to monitor abuses against journalists. For this reason, we encourage all stakeholders to recognize the critical role played by the media and to respect the rights of all journalists.
Second, I would like to address the SDGs or Global Goals. I know you heard a good presentation yesterday but I want to highlight the message. They are a Transformative agenda to address economic, social and environmental challenges by 2030. They set out 17 global goals to address the most pressing challenges faced by the planet and mankind.
Development experts have found it helpful to group the goals into five pillars namely, People, Planet, Prosperity, Partnership and Peace.
• The focus on People aims to end poverty and hunger in all forms and ensure dignity and equality.
• The focus on the Planet aims to address action against climate change and protect our natural resources and environment for future generations. They give a new perspective to energy, consumption, biodiversity, oceans and industrialization.
• The focus on Prosperity aims to ensure prosperous and fulfilling lives in harmony with nature including improved access to education, health, social protection, and job opportunities
• The focus on strengthened Partnerships aims to implement the agenda through collaboration between all sectors of society;
• And the focus on Peace aims to foster peaceful, just and inclusive societies while building strong institutions including justice institutions.
The agenda is unique in that it calls for action by all countries, be they poor, rich or middle-income.
The UN with governments around the world will continue to partner to embed the Global Goals in national planning processes as Tanzania has done with the Five Year Plan aimed at nurturing industrialization and promoting human development.
And finally, my third message is on Partnerships and the partnerships we would as UN like to develop with different stakeholders. As noted already, the Global Goals involve everyone and the UN will aim to reach out to all sectors of society. This includes the private sector, the media, local governments, faith-based institutions, youth and women’s groups and others.
In the case of the media we believe you have a key role to play in raising awareness about them and tracking the implementation of the Global Goals in Tanzania and the challenges encountered. I encourage you to develop specialized expertise on the global goals. The UN would like to work with you to ensure you understand the Global Goals and both advocate for and report on relevant issues. This would involve understanding and following up on the Five Year National Development Plan. As UN, our response to the Global Goals and the National Development Plan is the UNDAP, the UN Development Assistance Plan II which will begin in July this year. We are focusing on four themes and 12 development outcomes that address the Goals and how the National Development Plan has prioritized them.
Lets all work together so that in the years to come, and especially in 2030, we can see what we have done both individually and as institutions.
Allow me to end with a quote from Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere from his book Uhuru na Maendeleo Freedom and Development of 1973 where he said, “If real development is to take place, the people have to be involved.” There is no better way to celebrate this day than remembering this important principle.
Asanteni sana.