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Message of the Director-General of UNESCO on the occasion of World Book and Copyright Day - 23 April 2005

19-04-2005 - Ten years have passed since UNESCO proclaimed 23 April “World Book and Copyright Day”. The Day is celebrated by a growing number of partners and since its launch has shown itself to be a great opportunity for reflection and information on a significant theme.

It is observed by millions of people in over 100 countries, in hundreds of voluntary organizations, schools, public bodies, professional groups and private businesses.
In this lengthy period, World Book and Copyright Day has won over a considerable number of people from every continent and all cultural backgrounds to the cause of books and copyright. It has enabled them to discover, make the most of and explore in greater depth a multitude of aspects of the publishing world: books as vectors of values and knowledge, and depositories of the intangible heritage; books as windows onto the diversity of cultures and as tools for dialogue; books as sources of material wealth and copyright-protected works of creative artists. All of these aspects have been the subject of numerous awareness-raising and promotional initiatives that have had a genuine impact. There must nevertheless be no let-up in these efforts.

Since 2000, World Book and Copyright Day has inspired another initiative of professional organizations which receives the assistance of UNESCO and backing from States: World Book Capital. Each year a city is chosen which undertakes to maintain, through its own initiatives, the impetus of the Day’s celebrations until 23 April of the following year. Almost all the regions of the world, in turn, have already been involved in this process, which thus transforms the celebration of books and copyright into a recurrent activity, extending still further the geographical and cultural influence of books.

Over recent years, the World Day has shown that it can be a potent symbol for the launch of major support operations, in particular in Latin America and Africa.

This year, 2005, marked since the beginning by the need to react through well-coordinated solidarity to the appalling natural disasters caused by the tsunami in South-East Asia, has revealed the need to acknowledge the value of books as an instrument for economic and moral recovery.

Books are indeed indicative of a world that is being reborn economically through the vast chain of income-generating activities and professions which they cover. Copyright, which protects the lawful exploitation of intellectual works, also plays a key role in this context. The importance of books extends well beyond their sector: they are tools for learning, sharing and updating knowledge which are essential for the exercise of all professions, in every sector of production, trade and services. Books today are thus at the very heart of the economic and industrial life of every country.

In addition to this particular function in material reconstruction books may play a meaningful psychological and emotional role in schools, libraries and homes by helping people to overcome the trauma caused by a disaster and to face up to it rationally through a return to reading which coincides with the return to normal life.

It is no coincidence then that a number of international solidarity initiatives have focused on reconstituting the resources of the book chain damaged by the tsunami, at the initial request of the beneficiaries.

In the light of these experiences, which have revealed to us once more the exceptional role of books in all situations of life in society, I call upon political decision-makers, economic operators and stakeholders in civil society to join in World Book and Copyright Day with energy, creativity and generosity.

Source Office of the Spokesperson





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