INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL ON ARCHIVES
SECTION ON ARCHIVES AND HUMAN RIGHTS
WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY
3 MAY 2023
The Section on Archives and Human Rights (SAHR) of the International Council on Archives invites archivists, record keepers and professional archival associations to be a part of the observance of the United Nations’ World Press Freedom Day celebrated every year on the 3rd of May. This year marks 30 years since the Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993.
The defense of the rights of the press is crucial to the promotion and protection of human rights and democracy, as is the need for reliable and trustworthy sources of evidence. Archives are fundamental resources for independent journalists, who can use them to uncover and document human rights violations, hold governments and individuals accountable and present a diversity of opinions.
A prime example of the importance of archival evidence is the work done on preserving and locating archives of Truth Commissions around the world. The Section on Archives and Human Rights of the International Council on Archives is now creating an overarching tool, identifying the extent and location of these special archives.
The right to freedom of expression and the right to seek, receive and share information play an essential role in countering disinformation. Journalists depend on access to information held by public bodies in order to challenge false statements and manipulated data. Being able to point to authentic, reliable records that backup the journalism provides an element of safety for journalists, who too often are at risk of harassment and violence. At the same time, independent investigative journalism is essential for collecting, analysing and publicizing recorded contextual information, in particular on human rights violations.
We call on journalists, record keepers and archivists to come together to promote press freedom and the fight against disinformation. It is crucial that the public, journalists and media workers are aware of the important role of archives and archivists in supporting freedom of the press.