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Professor Roy Gutterman: Assaults on Press Freedom Endanger Democracy

Posted on Tuesday 5/11/2021
Roy Gutterman

(Syracuse.com | April 30, 2021) In 1991, a group of international journalists and press freedom advocates convened in Windhoek, Namibia, to forge a declaration for press freedom for media, governments and citizens around the world.

The Declaration of Windhoek on Promoting and Independent and Pluralistic African Press incorporated the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 19, which calls for press freedom around the world. The Windhoek Declaration has been annually memorialized through UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day, recognized on May 3.

Among its 19 declarations, it calls for “… the establishment, maintenance and fostering of an independent, pluralistic and free press is essential to the development and maintenance of democracy in a nation, and for economic development.”

The world was a different place 30 years ago. The fall of the Soviet Union fostered emerging democracies throughout Eastern Europe and democratic movements grew in Africa and parts of Asia. The internet had not yet gone commercial so ordinary citizens could log on to send and receive vast amounts of information from all corners of the world. Newspapers were still printing and CNN was reaching its apex as one of the world’s most prominent news outlets ...

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