News from wpfc

Top U.S. First Amendment Lawyer Addresses its World Impact
On 60th Anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Floyd Abrams, Esq., considered America’s most distinguished legal defender of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, delivered the World Press Freedom Committee’s 20th Annual Andersen-Ottaway Lecture on Global Communications Issues, at the United Nations, on December 9, 2008 -- the eve of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its Article 19, widely viewed as “the world’s First Amendment.”

Abrams’ presentation was titled: “The U.S. First Amendment Tradition and Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: After 60 Years, What Relationship?”

The late U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan called Abrams the “most significant First Amendment lawyer of our age” -- a generally held view, summed up by Abrams’ informal title, “Mr. First Amendment.”

Abrams has been involved in landmark press freedom cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, starting in 1971 with the New York Times vs. the United States, the Pentagon Papers case.

He spoke at a luncheon in the Delegates’ Lounge at UN Headquarters in New York presided by WPFC Chairman Richard Winfield, Esq., and organized in cooperation with the UNESCO Liaison Office at the UN.

Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights reads: “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression and opinion; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

The Andersen-Ottaway Lecture was created in honor of WPFC’s emeritus chairmen, Harold W. Andersen and James H. Ottaway Jr.

Earlier speakers have included UNESCO Director General Federico Mayor, World Bank President James D. Wolfensohn, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Nobel Peace Prize-winning East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta, and a number of internationally significant journalistic figures from China, Britain, Russia, Serbia, South Africa, Mexico and the United States and including Stefan Bratkowski, first leader of Poland’s Solidarity journalists union.

The World Press Freedom Committee is an umbrella organization, bringing together 45 journalistic groups on five continents, representing labor and management and print, broadcast and online press, united to defend and further press freedom.
 

World Press Freedom Committee Joins International Alliance to Launch Global Network Initiative

Reston, USA, Oct. 30, 2008 — In an effort to protect and advance the human rights of freedom of expression and privacy, a diverse coalition of leading information and communications companies, major human rights organizations —including the World Press Freedom Committee— academics, investors and technology leaders today launched the Global Network Initiative.

From the Americas to Europe to the Middle East to Africa and Asia, companies in the information and communications industries face increasing government pressure to comply with domestic laws and policies that require censorship and disclosure of personal information in ways that conflict with internationally recognized human rights laws and standards.

The Initiative is founded upon new Principles on Freedom of Expression and Privacy – supported by specific implementation commitments and a framework for accountability and learning – that provide a systematic approach for companies, NGOs, investors, academics and others to work together in resisting efforts by governments that seek to enlist companies in acts of censorship and surveillance that violate international standards.

“As the world increasingly obtains its news and information from a press that is making a progressively larger — or even exclusive — use of the Internet, old problems must be attacked in new ways,” said WPFC Executive Director Mark Bench. “Longstanding censorship issues such as laws imposing criminal penalties for alleged defamation or even truthful statements that "insult" a head of state (or other government officials) become even more damaging when the last bastion for the wrongfully persecuted, protecting oneself under the cloak of anonymity that the Internet may provide, cannot be fully utilized. These principles assist the press and any other citizens who seek to inform and influence others by ensuring a strong united front against the government persecution and censorship that is often effected against the lone dissenter.”

The Initiative is being launched in the 60th Anniversary year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and is founded upon the internationally recognized human rights for freedom of expression and privacy set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. (Click here to read more)
 

“Beijing Olympics 2008: Winning Press Freedom” Publication Now Available On-line or by Mail

The World Press Freedom Committee has just published the companion book to its “Beijing Olympics 2008: Winning Press Freedom” conference held in Paris, April 18-19. The book contains presentations and comments by some of the world’s most renowned experts in the field of human rights in China, especially about press freedom and the lack thereof in that country. Such experts include Jean-Philippe Béja, Research Director of the International Relations Studies Center in Paris; Dr. Merle Goldman, Professor Emerita of History at Boston University; Gao Yu, journalist winner of UNESCO’s Annual World Press Freedom Prize; Libby Liu, President of Radio Free Asia; Richard Winfield, WPFC Chairman; Watson Meng, Founder of Boxum News, and many others. The book is available online at http://www.wpfc.org/Publications.html. Printed copies of this book may be obtained by contacting WPFC at freepress@wpfc.org.
 

For additional information on the conference, click on the links below:

Beijing Olympics 2008: Winning Press Freedom
Paris Conference -- April 18-19, 2008

The groups that sponsored the conference "Beijing Olympics 2008: Winning Press Freedom" organized this event to raise the consciousness of the journalistic community, especially sports journalists, to the press freedom conditions they should expect to encounter in China.

The conference spotlighted the situation of the press in China -- print, broadcast and online media. We also wanted to highlight the conditions under which foreign journalists may work in China.

The conference was introduced by Professor Merle Goldman of Harvard and Boston Universities, a leading authority and prolific writer on civic rights in China.

There were panels exploring questions such as "How are Chinese news media controlled ?" "What reporting conditions should you expect in Beijing ?" "China's Internet; What freedom/What limits ?" "Trading with China: What risks, responsibilities, opportunities ?" and "How does China deal with foreign and peripheral news media ?"

Speakers represented Olympic authorities, Chinese news outlets, foreign news media and experts specializing on China, rights defenders, sports journalism services, businesses providing communication services in China, corporate sponsors of the Olympics.

Sports and other journalists interested in China, especially if they intend to cover this summer's Games were invited to register here for the conference, within the limit of spaces available.