World Press Freedom Day was introduced by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1993.

The date chosen for this annual celebration was 3 May, which is a day of action in the form of initiatives designed to uphold press freedom, as well as a day for assessing the state of press freedom in the world, a day for warning the public and raising awareness, a day for encouraging debate among media professionals, and a commemoration of all the journalists who have lost their lives while doing their job.

The Council of Europe's action to promote press freedom and freedom of information is based on Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, under which this fundamental right is one of the cornerstones of democracy. The Council carries out co-operation activities helping countries to draft legislation and introduce practices which comply with European standards. One of the things that it has done is set up an international group of specialists on freedom of expression and information in times of crisis. The information society is changing, so the Council of Europe now faces the challenge of upholding and maintaining its fundamental principles in new environments, the main one of which is the Internet.

Journalists in times of crisis

Wars, terrorism, threats to stability and natural disasters are leading to stricter security and surveillance all over the world. What effect does this have on access to information and on journalism?

Concerned about the erosion of press freedom in times of crisis, the Council of Europe has adopted three particularly significant documents:

  • a Declaration on freedom of expression and information in the media in the context of the fight against terrorism,
  • Guidelines on protecting freedom of expression and information in times of crisis, and
  • a Declaration on the protection and promotion of investigative journalism.

They are based on Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights which aims to guarantee freedom of expression and information within the jurisdiction of the 47 Council of Europe member states.

Freedom of expression and the challenges of the Internet

The Council of Europe gives thought to possible ways of dealing with the human rights protection problems thrown up by social networks and search engines, Net neutrality issues and the safeguarding of access to information.

2015 Edition 2015 Edition
Secretary General calls on European states to protect journalists
Council of Europe Strasbourg 30 April 2015
  • Diminuer la taille du texte
  • Augmenter la taille du texte
  • Imprimer la page
  • Imprimer en PDF
World Press Freedom Day, 3 May

International organisations representing journalists have reported 45 cases of alleged media freedom violations to the Council of Europe since the launch on 2 April of an Internet-based platform to strengthen the protection of journalism and to promote safety of journalists.

The five organisations which have partnered with the Council of Europe to address alleged serious media freedom violations – Article 19, the Association of European Journalists, the European Federation of Journalists, the International Federation of Journalists and Reporters Without Borders – have reported cases in 14 member states.

“Press Freedom Day is an opportunity to recall how vital free media are for democracy. The conditions for free media are worsening and it is the obligation of our member states to protect journalists as well as every citizen´s right to freedom of expression. The platform for the safety of journalists will allow us to be more assertive in defending these rights. Several of these alerts have seen positive developments and I look forward to engaging in dialogue with member states to identify possible remedies to all the other cases on the platform,” said Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland.

See also :


Attacks against journalists are attacks on society at large. In this film, find out what the Council of Europe is doing to protect journalists, free, independent and diverse media.

More information More information

Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights

''Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.''

Related links Related links