World Book and Copyright Day
At UNESCO's General Conference in Paris in 1995, the decision was made to celebrate World Book and Copyright Day on 23 April. The date was chosen because 23 April is symbolic for world literature: It is on this date in 1616 that Cervantes, Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega all died. It is also the date of birth or death of other prominent authors, such as Maurice Druon, Halldor K. Laxness, Vladimir Nabokov, Josep Pla and Manuel Mejía Vallejo. As in years past, various events will be held around the world today to celebrate the power of books to bring people together and to transmit wisdom among diverse cultures.
This year, UNESCO and the whole UN family commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which includes the freedom of expression and the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress. From these rights spring the freedom to publish, first embodied in the 1950 Florence Convention. As part of the celebrations at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, the public has a chance to have a closer look at each of the 30 articles of the Declaration, as well as related materials and actions.
Another highlight is in Athens, which starts its tenure as UNESCO World Book Capital 2018 today. The city of Athens was chosen for the quality of its activities, supported by the entire book industry. The aim is to make books accessible to the city’s entire population, including migrants and refugees.