Conflict of Rights and Interests

Conflict of rights and interests

International human rights law suggests a “balance of rights” approach to assess the legitimacy of state restriction to freedom of expression. The resources on this Module survey the application of this test to various areas of conflict, such as defamation and national security. Readings cover various national practices, and jurisprudence, along with academic critiques.

10 items found, showing 1 - 10


Author: ARTICLE 19
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"These Principles set out an appropriate balance between the human right to freedom of expression, guaranteed in UN and regional human rights instruments, as well as nearly every national constitution, and the need to protect individual reputations, widely recognised by international human rights instruments and the law in countries around the world. The Principles are based on the premise that, in a democratic society, freedom of expression must be guaranteed and may be subject only to narrowly drawn restrictions which are necessary to protect legitimate interests, including reputations. In particular, they set out standards
of respect for freedom of expression to which legal provisions designed to protect reputations should, at a minimum, conform."

Article 19.Defining Defamation: Principles on Freedom of Expression and Protection of Reputation. London: Article 19, 2017.

Author: Edward Carter
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"Government officials in various parts of the world use defamation to silence critics, but defamation liability may curtail freedom of expression on topics of public interest and undermine human rights generally. Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights guarantees freedom of expression unless a state can show need to protect individual reputation and acts proportionally. In its adjudication of complaints for violations of Article 19, and in its General Comment 34, the United Nations Human Rights Committee has crafted the principle that defamation liability may not be imposed if an erroneous statement about a public official was made in “error but without malice.” Although soft law, General Comment 34 represents the committee's most compelling articulation of the values animating freedom of expression in international human rights law, and chief among the values is the role played by free expression to promote realization of all human rights."

Carter, Edward. “‘Error but without malice,’ in defamation of public officials: The value of free expression in international human rights law”, Communication Law & Policy 21, (June 2016): 301-322


Author: Kevin W. Saunders
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"Free Expression and Democracy takes on the assumption that limits on free expression will lead to authoritarianism or at least a weakening of democracy. That hypothesis is tested by an examination of issues involving expression and their treatment in countries included on The Economist's list of fully functioning democracies. Generally speaking, other countries allow prohibitions on hate speech, limits on third-party spending on elections, and the protection of children from media influences seen as harmful. Many ban Holocaust denial and the desecration of national symbols. Yet, these other countries all remain democratic, and most of those considered rank more highly than the United States on the democracy index. This book argues that while there may be other cultural values that call for more expansive protection of expression, that protection need not reach the level present in the United States in order to protect the democratic nature of a country."

Saunders, Kevin W. Free Expression and Democracy: A Comparative Analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017. doi:10.1017/9781316771129.

Author: UNESCO
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The report “provides a new perspective on the social and political dynamics behind the threats to expression. It develops a conceptual framework on the ‘ecology of freedom of expression’ for discussing the broad context of policy and practice that should be taken into consideration in discussions of this issue.”

Dutton, William H. Freedom of connection, freedom of expression: the changing legal and regulatory ecology shaping the Internet. Paris: UN, UNESCO, 2011.

Author: Tarlach McGonagle
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"This study examines the voluminous case law of the European Court of Human Rights (“The Court”) relating to freedom of expression and defamation. It starts by clarifying the concept of defamation and positioning it in relation to freedom of expression and public debate. It explains how defamation laws that are overly protective of reputational interests and that provide for far-reaching remedies or sanctions can have a chilling effect on freedom of expression and public debate. The principle of proportionality in respect of defamation laws and their application is therefore very important when it comes to preventing such a chilling effect."

Tarlach McGonagle, Freedom of expression and defamation: A study of the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights (Strasbourg, Council of Europe Publishing, 2016).

Author: Columbia Global Freedom of Expression
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Here you will find the Syllabus for the MOOC 'Freedom of Expression in the Age of Globalization' created by Columbia Global Freedom of Expression. This course will examine the norms, institutions and forces that altogether have founded a global system of protection for freedom of expression and information. This Advanced  Course will focus on the multiple challenges brought about by the technology revolution of the last two decades. On one hand, it has given the world the means to realize its commitment to freedom of information without frontiers. Technology has shaped, reshaped, and radically transformed the production and distribution of information, profoundly impacting whole societies and greatly influencing, if not defining, information and communication. On the other hand, it has also precipitated or heightened a range of normative, regulatory and political issues related to the protection of freedom of expression, on and off line. This course will examine the complex, and often awkward, interplay of global information flows with national jurisdiction and state sovereignty, and what it means for the realization of a borderless vision for the right to freedom of expression.

Author: Centre for Law and Democracy and International Media Support
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“This series of Briefing Notes is designed to give readers an understanding of the key international legal standards that apply in the context of freedom of expression. They are aimed at an audience which does not necessarily have a deep understanding of freedom of expression issues, but they also aim to be of interest and relevance to more sophisticated freedom of expression observers and practitioners. Thus, while the Briefing Notes are designed to be broadly accessible, they also provide readers with fairly in-depth knowledge about freedom of expression issues. Each individual Briefing Note addresses a different thematic freedom of expression issue. The first, perhaps predictably, is titled Freedom of Expression as a Human Right, while the second looks at the permissible scope of restrictions on freedom of expression under international law. Several of the Briefing Notes focus on different areas of media regulation, including print, broadcast and public service media, journalists, media diversity and independent regulation. This reflects the central role media regulation plays both in terms of guaranteeing freedom of expression and in the legal frameworks found in democracies relating to freedom of expression. There are also Briefing Notes on both criminal and civil restrictions on freedom of expression, as well as on the right to information (or freedom of information) and digital rights. In addition to providing substantive guidance in the relevant thematic area, the Briefing Notes contain a number of pithy quotes from leading sources. The idea is to provide readers with quick access to ‘quotable quotes’ for possible reuse in their work. Each Note also contains a section at the end on further resources, for readers who want to probe the subject more deeply.”

Centre for Law and Democracy and International Media Support. “Freedom of Expression Briefing Note Series”. 2014.….

Author: UN Human Rights Committee
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The UN Human Rights Committee adopted (102nd Session) General Comment 34 on States parties' obligations under Article 19 of the ICCPR: Freedoms of opinion and expression (CCPR/C/GC/34). The General Comment provides guidance to States on what the freedoms of opinion and expression mean in practice. Among others, the General Comment refers to: Freedom of expression and the media; Right of access to information; Freedom of expression and political rights; The application of article 19 (3); Limitative scope of restrictions on freedom of expression in certain specific areas; The relationship between articles 19 and 20.

UN, Human Rights Committee. General Comment No. 34. CCPR/C/GC/34. 12 September 2011

Author: OAS and ACHPR Special Rapporteurs for Freedom of Expression
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First Joint Declaration of OAS and ACHPR Special Rapportuers on Freedom of Expression

OAS and ACHPR Special Rapporteurs for Freedom of Expression. First Joint Declaration of OAS and ACHPR Special Rapportuers on Freedom of ExpressionFebruary 28, 2005.

Author: UN, OSCE and OAS Special Rapporteurs for Freedom of Expression
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Joint Declaration on Freedom of Expression and the Administration of Justice, Commercialisation and Freedom of Expression, and Criminal Defamation

UN, OSCE and OAS Special Rapporteurs for Freedom of Expression.  Joint Declaration on Freedom of Expression and the Administration of Justice, Commercialisation and Freedom of Expression, and Criminal Defamation, December 10, 2002.