The potential of media in fostering dialogue, mutual understanding and reconciliation will be the topic of UNESCO World Press Freedom Day 2009 to be celebrated on 2-3 May 2009. As the only UN agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom, UNESCO has placed mutual understanding, and dialogue through media at the core of its mission.
The Sri Lankan editor Lasantha Wickrematunge has been posthumously awarded the 2009 UNESCO World Press Freedom International Prize. The late Sri Lankan journalist and editor of the Sunday Leader, who was assassinated on 8 January this year, knew his profession put him in danger and went so far as to write an editorial for publication after his death. It appeared in the Sunday Leader on 11 January 2009, voicing Mr Wickrematunge's commitment and readiness to die for press freedom: "[…] there is a calling that is yet above high office, fame, lucre and security. It is the call of conscience."