Meaning a Global Perspective

Meaning of a Global Perspective

A global perspective on freedom of expression borrows from different disciplines and theories, including international law, global norms formation, comparative jurisprudence and international legal pluralism. As such, it covers the international institutions, treaties, soft law and jurisprudence underpinning international free speech standards. It includes analyses of national constitutions, laws and jurisprudences to identify convergence and conflicts across jurisdictions. It focuses on the extent to which global norms of freedom of expression have emerged and cascaded around the world and the actors and forces responsible for it. Finally, a global perspective on freedom of expression is predicated on the notion that multiple legal orders support judicial dialogues but the existence of a “global village of precedents.”

10 items found, showing 1 - 10

Global Norms Formation

Author: Stephen Krasner
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"International regimes are defined as principles, norms, rules, and decision making procedures around which actor expectations converge in a given issue-area. As a starting point, regimes have been conceptualized as intervening variables, standing between basic causal factors and related outcomes and behavior. There are three views about the importance of regimes: conventional structural orientations dismiss regimes as being at best ineffectual; Grotian orientations view regimes as an intimate component of the international system; and modified structural perspectives see regimes as significant only under certain constrained conditions. For Grotian and modified structuralist arguments, which endorse the view that regimes can influence outcomes and behavior, regime development is seen as a function of five basic causal variables: egoistic self-interest, political power, diffuse norms and principles, custom and usage, and knowledge."

Krasner, Stephen D. "Structural Causes and Regime Consequences: Regimes as Intervening Variables." International Organization 36, no. 2 (1982): 185-205.

Author: ARTICLE 19, Centre for Law and Democracy, The United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Representative on Freedom of the Media, the Organization of American States (OAS) Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa
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The Declaration, adopted by the specialized mandates tasked with protecting Freedom of Expression at the UN, OAS, OSCE, and African Commission, was drafted in cooperation with ARTICLE 19 and the Centre for Law and Democracy. The Declaration “outlines the interrelationship and interdependency of media freedom and democratic values, and the critical role of media freedom in enabling and sustaining democratic societies.” In the three sections that follow, the Declaration focuses on the role of states, calling for state actors to protect journalists and media diversity, refrain from press freedom violations, and provide economic support to the media. In its recommendations for online platforms, the Declaration emphasizes human rights standards, transparency, risk mitigation, and fair compensation. Finally, it addresses the media sector and stresses the importance of professional and ethical conduct.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Representative on Freedom of the Media, the Organization of American States Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa. 2023 Joint Declaration on Media Freedom and Democracy. May 2, 2023.

Author: Center for Law and Democracy
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Executive Summary: This Guide provides an overview of how international law can be used to inform domestic litigation, with a focus on the issue of freedom of expression. After providing a brief overview of the sources of applicable international law norms, it provides an overview of how different jurisdictions give effect to international norms while offering practical tips for deciding how and when to invoke those norms. The Guide then describes the ways international standards can be used as a tool to inform statutory and constitutional interpretation. The Guide concludes that although different legal traditions have adopted varied approaches to incorporating international norms domestically, regardless of how this is done, international standards can play a meaningful role in domestic human rights litigation.

Center for Law and Democracy. A Guide On Using International Freedom Of Expression Norms In Domestic Courts. July 2022.

Author: Nani Jansen Reventlow
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“The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) imposes important transparency and accountability requirements on different actors who process personal data. This is great news for the protection of individual data privacy. However, given that “personal information and human stories are the raw material of journalism,” what does the GDPR mean for freedom of expression and especially for journalistic activity? This essay argues that, although EU states seem to have taken their data protection obligations under the GDPR seriously, efforts to balance this against the right to freedom of expression have been more uneven. The essay concludes that it is of key importance to ensure that the GDPR's safeguards for data privacy do not compromise a free press.”

Reventlow, Nani Jansen. “Can the GDPR and Freedom of Expression Coexist?”. AJIL Unbound 114 (2020): 31-34.

Author: John Ruggie
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"Constructing the World Polity brings together in one collection the theoretical ideas of one of the most influential International Relations theorists of our time. These essays, with a new introduction, and comprehensive connective sections, present Ruggie's ideas and their application to critical policy questions of the post-Cold War international order. Themes covered include:* International Organization. How the 'new Institutionalism' differs from the old. The System of States. Explorations of political structure, social time, and territorial space in the world polity. Making History. America and the issue of 'agency' in the post-Cold Was era. NATO and the future transatlantic security community. The United Nations and the collective use of force."

John Ruggie. Constructing the World Polity: Essays on International Institutionalization. London: Routledge, 1998.

Author: AccessNow, Marwa Fatafta, Eliska Pirkova
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The Declaration jointly developed by Access Now, ARTICLE 19, Mnemonic, the Center for Democracy and Technology, JustPeace Labs, Digital Security Lab Ukraine, Centre for Democracy and Rule of Law (CEDEM), and the Myanmar Internet Project, sets out guidelines to help platforms protect human rights before, during, and after a crisis. The motivation for the Declaration stemmed from an understanding that “[i]n situations of armed conflicts and other crises, people use social media and messaging platforms to document human rights abuses or war crimes, access information, mobilize for action, and crowdsource humanitarian assistance. But governments and other actors leverage these same platforms to spread disinformation and hate speech, incite violence, and attack or surveil activists, journalists, and dissidents.” The partner organizations hope that the Declaration will help “advance consistent and rights-respecting principles for companies to respond appropriately to crises and meet their obligations and responsibilities under international human rights law.”

AccessNow, Declaration of principles for content and platform governance in times of crisis. 29 November 2022.

Author: Jack M. Balkin
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“In this essay, Professor Balkin argues that digital technologies alter the social conditions of speech and therefore should change the focus of free speech theory, from a Meiklejohnian or republican concern with protecting democratic process and democratic deliberation, to a larger concern with protecting and promoting a democratic culture. A democratic culture is a culture in which individuals have a fair opportunity to participate in the forms of meaning-making that constitute them as individuals. Democratic culture is about individual liberty as well as collective self-governance; it concerns each individual’s ability to participate in the production and distribution of culture. Balkin argues that Meiklejohn and his followers were influenced by the social conditions of speech produced by the rise of mass media in the twentieth century, in which only a relative few could broadcast to large numbers of people. Republican or progressivist theories of free speech also tend to downplay the importance of nonpolitical expression, popular culture, and individual liberty. The limitations of this approach have become increasingly apparent in the age of the Internet. By changing the social conditions of speech, digital technologies lead to new social conflicts over the ownership and control of informational capital. The free speech principle is the battleground over many of these conflicts. For example, media companies have interpreted the free speech principle broadly to combat regulation of digital networks and narrowly in order to protect and extend their intellectual property rights. The digital age greatly expands the possibilities for individual participation in the growth and spread of culture, and thus greatly expands the possibilities for the realization of a truly democratic culture. But the same technologies also produce new methods of control that can limit democratic cultural participation. Therefore, free speech values – interactivity, mass participation, and the ability to modify and transform culture – must be protected through technological design and through administrative and legislative regulation of technology, as well as through the more traditional method of judicial creation and recognition of constitutional rights. Increasingly, freedom of speech will depend on the design of the technological infrastructure that supports the system of free expression and secures widespread democratic participation. Institutional limitations of courts will prevent them from reaching the most important questions about how that infrastructure is designed and implemented. Safeguarding freedom of speech will thus increasingly fall to legislatures, administrative agencies, and technologists.”

Balkin, Jack. “Digital Speech and Democratic Culture: A Theory of Freedom of Expression for the Information Society”. New York University Law Review 79, no. 1 (2004).

Author: Beth Simmons, Volha Charnysh, and Paullete Lloyd
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"This article examines the process of consensus formation by the international community on how to confront the problem of trafficking in persons. We analyze the corpus of UNGA Third Committee resolutions to show that (1) consensus around the issue of how to confront trafficking in persons has increased over time; and (2) the formation of this consensus depends on how the issue is framed. We test our argument by examining the characteristics of resolutions’ sponsors and discursive framing concepts such as crime, human rights, and the strength of enforcement language. We conclude that the consensus formation process in international relations is more aptly described as one of “accommodation” through issue linkage than a process of persuasion."

Volha Charnysh and  Paulette Lloyd and Beth A. Simmons, Frames and Consensus Formation in International Relations: The Case of Trafficking in Persons (2015). European Journal of International Relations, Vol. 21, Pg. 323, 2015; U of Penn Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 16-39. 

Author: Adam D. Moore
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“While autonomy arguments provide a compelling foundation for free speech, they also support individual privacy rights. Considering how speech and privacy may be justified, the article argues that the speech necessary for self-government does not need to include details that would violate privacy rights. Additionally, it argues that if viewed as a kind of intangible property right, informational privacy should limit speech and expression in a range of cases. In a world where we have an overabundance of content to consume, much of which could be called “information pollution,” and where there are numerous platforms to broadcast one’s expressions, it is increasingly difficult to maintain that speech should trump privacy.”

Moore, Adam. “Free Speech, Privacy, and Autonomy”. Social Philosophy and Policy 37, no. 2 (2021): 31-51.

Author: Freedom House
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For the thirteenth year in a row, there has been a drop in internet freedom worldwide, with digital repression causing the largest decline in Iran. Myanmar was found to have the worst internet freedom conditions in the world, while President Rodrigo Duterte's use of an antiterrorism statute to restrict news sites critical of his administration made matters worse in the Philippines. After a presidential candidate whose campaign manager employed internet trolls to intimidate media outlets was elected, Costa Rica's reputation as a champion of internet freedom came under danger. Attacks on the right to free speech have become more widespread; out of the 70 nations that Freedom on the Net covers, 55 have reported facing legal consequences for online speech, and 41 have executed or killed individuals for their comments posted online.

With 47 governments using commenters to sway online debates, generative artificial intelligence (AI) poses a serious challenge to online disinformation tactics. Disinformation strategies have intensified as a result of the increased sophistication, accessibility, and ease of use of AI-based technologies. Governments have also improved and honed their online censorship strategies; in 22 countries, laws have been passed requiring or rewarding digital companies to use machine learning to filter out objectionable social, political, and religious content.

The defenders of democracy must apply the lessons they have learnt from previous internet governance issues to AI to preserve online freedom. AI has the potential to be a powerful tool for digital repression, increasing the efficiency, speed, cost-effectiveness, and ease of censorship, surveillance, and the production and dissemination of false information.

Freedom House. 'Freedom on the Net 2023: The Repressive Power of Artificial Intelligence'. 2023.