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Message by Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO on the occasion of the World Radio Day 13 February 2013

Irina Bokova

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World Radio Day celebrates a medium that has transformed the way we communicate and that remains at the forefront of the 21st century. On 18 December, 2012, the United Nations General Assembly endorsed the 2011 resolution adopted by the UNESCO General Conference, proclaiming 13 February as World Radio Day, the day United Nations Radio was established in 1946.

The birth of radio in the 19th century ushered in the era of modern communication. The world has changed dramatically since then, but radio has hardly aged a day. It remains widely accessible, relatively cheap and very simple to use. It is still the medium that can carry any message to any place at any time – even without electricity. In situations of conflict and natural disaster, shortwave radio provides a lifeline of information that can save lives.

Radio has embraced the digital revolution to expand its power and reach. Across the world, the cost of broadcasting is decreasing and the number of radio stations is increasing. Citizen journalists and community media are using online radio stations to give voices to those who are rarely heard. More than ever, radio remains a force for social change, by sharing knowledge and providing a platform for inclusive debate.

In a world changing quickly, UNESCO is committed to harnessing the full power of radio to build bridges of understanding between peoples, to share information as widely as possible and to deepen respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, especially freedom of expression. This is essential for good governance, open societies and sustainable development.

This is why UNESCO works to protect the safety of radio journalists across the world and to support free, independent and pluralistic media, along with the necessary legal frameworks and democratic institutions.

UNESCO is also determined to make full use of community radio to address poverty and social exclusion at the local level and to empower marginalized rural groups, young people and women. Radio is a key platform for education and for protecting local cultures and languages. It is also a powerful way to amplify the voices of young people around the world on issues that affect their lives. We must bolster their skills and give them opportunities to engage fully with radio.

Radio has transformed our past — it remains a powerful force for shaping a more peaceful, more sustainable and more inclusive future for all. This is UNESCO’s message for World Radio Day.

Irina Bokova