June 11, 2021
Dear Most Distinguished Members of WAPC,
I would like to welcome each and every one of you and congratulate you all for being with us, today, in this our common journey which started 32 years ago. The World Association of Press Councils (WAPC) was initiated in 1989 at the First International Conference of Press Councils and Similar Bodies at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Mr. R. Gunasingam, and Justice A. N. Grover from India were the organizers of the Meeting. It is really a tribute to their vision and foresight that many members who attended this first meeting are still with us here today. I would like to make a brief reference to our first meeting. It is on this occasion that the Kuala Lumpur Declaration was accepted putting forward the importance of freedom of expression as an inviolable human right and emphasizing that the freedom of the press and the media are inseparable elements of the freedom of speech and expression. It was also highlighted that the right of the public to be informed on matters of public interest was of supreme importance. At the same time, “responsible journalism” and “free press accountable to the public” were deemed as the ethical basis for the exercise of the profession of journalism.
Working together and sharing our experiences, we have constructed very strong bonds both at the personal as well as the professional level at the WAPC. Each and every one of us is proud to be a member of this distinguished organization. Each and every one us new feels stronger and more committed to the goals of freedom of press as a result of the inspiration and commitment that are now permanent features of our organization. We are all very much aware and cognizant of the power of being together and working together. We have all worked together to expand the influence of the WAPC by increasing our membership both at the geographical as well as the cultural dimension. In the last years, the number of the member countries has become 23. I should point out that now about half of the population of the world is now represented at the WAPC. This continues to give us fresh energy and stronger commitments to the goals of the WAPC. Despite all the obstacles created by the Covid-19 pandemic, we continue to hold monthly meetings on-line and exchanged views and tried to find solutions to the problems facing the journalists. When the Covid-19 pandemic started, we saw to it that journalist should be vaccinated as the first-line professionals contacting with people and at the danger of being contaminated with the virus.
We have members from many countries in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East. In alphabetical order our member countries are now: Azerbaijan, Afghanistan (candidate member), Bangladesh, Bhutan (candidate member), India, Iraq, Kenya, Kosovo, Malawi, Myanmar, Nakhichevan, Nepal, North Macedonia, Pakistan, Seychelles (candidate member), Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Tanzania, Turkey, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe. It is my great pleasure to be with you again as I heartfully salute our new members and old, sometimes very old friends. I have immensely enjoyed our journey together and look ahead with courage, conviction and commitment as we walk together to our common destination – a world of freedom, a world of freedom to say and to know. May god bless you all!
I would like to welcome Chairman Balkrishna Basnet for his new appointment as the Chairman of Press Council of Nepal. I would also like to extend my condolences to Azerbaijan Press Council for the loss of two journalists killed in the war zone.