|DPI OVERLOOKS ITS OWN FREE PRESS ROLE
15 May 2006
It appears that those currently in charge of the U.N. Department of Public Information (DPI) decided to give up its
former pivotal role in defense of press freedom. Not only do they limit a commemoration of World Press Freedom Day -- which
the Department itself helped to create -- to a ceremonial seminar, but, according to its own press release issued on
the occasion dated 4 May 2006, its background review overlooks any role by that Department, willingly giving all the credit
The undisputed fact is that UNESCO and DPI were partners in that venture. Initiated by Department head Therese Paquet
Sevigny, that partnership took practical shape in the first UNESCO/DPI Seminar on Promoting an Independent and
Pluralistic African Press from 29 April to 3 May 1991. Both DPI and UNESCO shared the planning, fund-raising and
political commitment. The actual proposal for World Press Freedom Day resulted from a follow-up meeting in Santiago,
Chile, again in partnership between UNESCO and DPI. That Department's head at the time, Samir Sanbar, arranged to
obtain a General Assembly resolution formalizing May 3 World Press Freedom Day.
Let's hope that when those transients leave within months, the Department of Public Information will resume its role
in the forefront of the struggle for a free varied press and regain its courage in defending victimized journalists.