Guyana reinforces commitment to press freedom at 31st World Press Freedom Day Conference

Emphasising its dedication to the fundamental democratic principles of press freedom and access to information, the Guyana Government is taking part in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) World Press Freedom Day Conference at the Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral, Santiago, Chile.

The three-day conference commenced on Friday, May 3, on World Press Freedom Day, which was observed under the theme, ‘A Press for the Planet: Journalism in the face of the Environmental Crisis’.

Gordon U. French, Public Affairs Liaison, Department of Information and Public Affairs, Office of the Prime Minister

Gordon U. French, Public Affairs Liaison in the Department of Information and Public Affairs, Office of the Prime Minister, joined over 2,500 media workers, policymakers, environmental activists, and non-governmental organisations to discuss the current challenges and opportunities in environmental reporting and the broader media landscape.

“The discussions at the conference are crucial, occurring at a critical juncture amidst our Guyana’s global leadership and commitment to environmental protection and climate change mitigation. Therefore, it is essential that we remain vigilant and informed about the latest developments, focusing on emerging global issues to help strengthen the foundation of fundamental rights and freedoms already enshrined in Guyana,” French stated.

Based on initial discussions at the conference, there are increasing calls for Governments to collaborate with journalists and other stakeholders to develop public policies to combat misinformation and fake news campaigns, not only regarding the environment but especially as the world prepares for a ‘super election year’ in 2024.

“In Guyana, we are increasingly recognising the global conversation surrounding Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its implications for the proliferation of fake news. This presents challenges for our journalists and government as we endeavour to safeguard our environment and the rights of citizens. President Dr. Irfaan Ali has taken decisive steps to lead local discussions on AI, representing a commitment to confront the challenges of AI and fake news head-on.”

There is a global push for ensuring that the governance of digital platforms foster the transparency of technology companies, their accountability, due diligence, user empowerment, and content moderation and curation based on international human rights’ standards, as indicated in UNESCO’s Guidelines for the governance of digital platforms.

The conference’s opening ceremony was led by the renowned Chilean actress Leonor Varela, with remarks from Mr. Gabriel Boric Font, President of the Republic of Chile; Ms. Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO; and Ms. Michelle Bachelet, former President of Chile and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, providing a presentation.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also addressed the conference remotely.

The WPFD event offers an excellent opportunity for all stakeholders to reaffirm their commitment to promoting and ensuring freedom of expression worldwide.