Everyone has the right to read. Society has an obligation to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to enjoy the benefit of reading. Since vast portions of the world’s population are deprived of access to books by inability to read, governments have the responsibility of helping to obliterate the scourge of illiteracy. They should encourage provision of the printed materials needed to build and maintain the skill of reading. Bilateral and multilateral assistance should be made available, as required, to the book professions. The producers and distributors of books, for their part, have the obligation to ensure that the ideas and information thus conveyed continue to meet the changing needs of the reader and of society as a whole.
Society has a special obligation to establish the conditions in which authors can exercise their creative rôle. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that »everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author«. This protection should be also extended to translators, whose work opens the horizon of a book beyond linguistic frontiers, thus providing an essential link between authors and a wider public. All countries have the right to express their cultural individuality and in so doing preserve the identity essential to civilization. Accordingly they should encourage authors in their creative role and should through translation, provide wider access to the riches contained in the literature of other languages, including those of limited diffusion.
Books serve international understanding and peaceful co-operation. »Since wars begin in the minds of men«, the UNESCO Constitution states, »it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed«. Books constitute one of the major defences of peace because of their enormous influence in creating an intellectual climate of friendship and mutual understanding. All those concerned have an obligation to ensure that the content of books promotes individual fulfillment, social and economic progress, international understanding and peace.