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

Comparative Jurisprudence

Author: Access Now
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“The International and national laws recognize that extraordinary circumstances require extraordinary measures. This means that certain fundamental rights, including the right to freedom of expression and opinion and the right to seek and impart information, may be restricted to address the current health crisis as long as governments apply basic democratic principles and a series of safeguards, and the interference is lawful, limited in time, and not arbitrary. Governments, companies, NGOs, and individuals alike have a responsibility to do their part to mitigate the consequences of the COVID-19 health crisis and to show solidarity and respect for each other. In this paper, we provide recommendations for protecting freedom of expression and opinion and the right to impart and receive information to enable governments​ to fight the COVID-19 health crisis in a rights-respecting manner. There will be an aftermath to the COVID-19 outbreak and the measures governments put in place right now will determine what it will look like. The recommendations outlined below will help ensure that the rule of law, and the rights to freedom of expression and opinion, as well as the right to receive and to impart information, are protected throughout this crisis and in the future. Under no circumstances should any government allow people’s fundamental rights to fall victim to this pandemic.” 

Access Now. “Fighting Misinformation and Defending Free Expression during COVID-19: Recommendations for States”. 2020.

Author: Scholars at Risk
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“Free to Think 2021 is the seventh installment of an annual report by SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project. The report analyzes 332 attacks on higher education communities in 65 countries and territories around the world between September 1, 2020 and August 31, 2021. Free to Think 2021 reflects a fraction of attacks on higher education that have occurred over the past year. These attacks demonstrate the range of tactics by diverse actors seeking to punish and silence scholars, students, and other members of higher education communities exercising their right to ideas. They discourage research, teaching, and discussion. They undermine universities, colleges, and research institutions attempting to provide solutions to problems that impact everyone, from COVID-19 to climate change. They impede the ability of higher education to help shape tomorrow’s leaders. We must defend against these attacks. We must strengthen and promote academic freedom and quality higher education. Our future depends on it. Scholars at Risk calls on states, higher education communities, and civil society around the world to respond to these attacks: to reject violence and coercion aimed at restricting inquiry and expression; to protect threatened scholars, students, and higher education institutions; and to reaffirm publicly their commitment to academic freedom and support for the principles that critical discourse is not disloyalty, that ideas are not crimes, and that everyone must be free to think, question, and share their ideas.”

Scholars at Risk. “Free to Think 2021: Report of Scholars at Risk Academic Freedom Monitoring Project”. 2021.  

Author: Freedom House
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Global freedom declined for the 17th consecutive year.  Moscow’s war of aggression led to devastating human rights atrocities in Ukraine. New coups and other attempts to undermine representative government destabilized Burkina Faso, Tunisia, Peru, and Brazil. Previous years’ coups and ongoing repression continued to diminish basic liberties in Guinea and constrain those in Turkey, Myanmar, and Thailand, among others. Two countries suffered downgrades in their overall freedom status: Peru moved from Free to Partly Free, and Burkina Faso moved from Partly Free to Not Free.

The struggle for democracy may be approaching a turning point. The gap between the number of countries that registered overall improvements in political rights and civil liberties and those that registered overall declines for 2022 was the narrowest it has ever been through 17 years of global deterioration. Thirty-four countries made improvements, and the tally of countries with declines, at 35, was the smallest recorded since the negative pattern began. The gains were driven by more competitive elections as well as a rollback of pandemic-related restrictions that had disproportionately affected freedom of assembly and freedom of movement. Two countries, Colombia and Lesotho, earned upgrades in their overall freedom status, moving from Partly Free to Free.

While authoritarians remain extremely dangerous, they are not unbeatable. The year’s events showed that autocrats are far from infallible, and their errors provide openings for democratic forces. The effects of corruption and a focus on political control at the expense of competence exposed the limits of the authoritarian models offered by Beijing, Moscow, Caracas, or Tehran. Meanwhile, democratic alliances demonstrated solidarity and vigour.

Infringement on freedom of expression has long been a key driver of global democratic decline. Over the last 17 years, the number of countries and territories that receive a score of 0 out of 4 on the report’s media freedom indicator has ballooned from 14 to 33, as journalists face persistent attacks from autocrats and their supporters while receiving inadequate protection from intimidation and violence even in some democracies. The past year brought more of the same, with media freedom coming under pressure in at least 157 countries and territories during 2022. Scores for a related indicator pertaining to freedom of personal expression have also declined over the years amid greater invasions of privacy, harassment and intimidation, and incentives to self-censor both online and offline.

The fight for freedom persists across decades. When Freedom House issued the first edition of its global survey in 1973, 44 of 148 countries were rated Free. Today, 84 of 195 countries are Free. Over the past 50 years, consolidated democracies have not only emerged from deeply repressive environments but also proven to be remarkably resilient in the face of new challenges. Although democratization has slowed and encountered setbacks, ordinary people around the world, including in Iran, China, and Cuba, continue to defend their rights against authoritarian encroachment.

Author: Law Library of Congress
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“This report, prepared by the research staff of the Law Library of Congress, surveys legal acts regulating mass media and their ability to distribute information freely during the Covid-19 pandemic. The report focuses on recently introduced amendments to national legislation aimed at establishing different control measures over the media outlets, internet resources, and journalists in 20 selected countries around the world where adoption of such laws has been identified, namely: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, El Salvador, India, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mauritius, Moldova, Nepal, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Russia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.”   

Law Library of Congress. “Freedom of Expression during COVID-19”. 2020.

Author: Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (Giselle Bosse, Moritz Höpner, and Alena Vieira)
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“Alongside the COVID-19 pandemic, the governmental restrictions related to it were a stress test for multiple areas related to human rights, including the freedom of speech and media plurality. Specifically, concerns have been raised over the respect of the freedom of expression, both for individuals and the media, in several Eastern Partnership countries. This analysis focuses on identifying positive and negative changes with regards to freedom of speech and media resulting from policies related to COVID-19, examining the role of media in providing reliable information about COVID-19, evaluating the role of digitalisation on independent media, and assessing the impact of the strengthened strategic communication and support for media in the implementation of the 20 Deliverables for 2020.”

Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (Giselle Bosse, Moritz Höpner, and Alena Vieira). “Freedom of Speech and Media Plurality in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic”. 2021.

Author: Freedom House
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“Freedom on the Net is an annual study of human rights in the digital sphere. The project assesses internet freedom in 70 countries, accounting for 88 percent of the world’s internet users. This report, the 11th in its series, covered developments between June 2020 and May 2021.” Its key findings are: “1) Global internet freedom declined for the 11th consecutive year; 2) Governments clashed with technology companies on users’ rights; 3) Free expression online is under unprecedented strain; 4) China ranks as the worst environment for internet freedom for the seventh year in a row; 5) The United States’ score declined for the fifth consecutive year; and, 6) State intervention must protect human rights online and preserve an open internet…[The uploaded report] is a summary of findings for the 2021 edition of Freedom on the Net. Narrative reports on the 70 countries assessed in this study can be found on our website at” 

Freedom House. “Freedom on the Net 2021: The Global Drive to Control Big Tech”. 2021.

Author: Article 19
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The Global Expression Report 2023 provides a comprehensive analysis of the state of freedom of expression worldwide. It assesses 161 countries using 25 indicators to assign each a score between 0 and 100, categorizing them into various levels of expression freedom: In Crisis (0-19), Highly Restricted (20-39), Restricted (40-59), Less Restricted (60-79), and Open (80-100).

Key findings include:

1. **Decline in Global Expression**: There has been a significant decline in freedom of expression globally. The Global Expression Score, the mean average of country scores, has dropped by 6 points since 2012. Even more concerning is the Human Score, weighted by population, which shows a 13-point decline over the same period.

2. **Widespread Repression**: Around 80% of the global population now lives with less freedom of expression than a decade ago, affecting over 6 billion people in more than 80 countries. The 21st century has seen an increase in repression for the majority of the world's population.

3. **Disproportionate Impact**: The report highlights that more countries are experiencing declines in freedom than those witnessing improvements. Notably, countries with declining freedoms tend to have larger populations. For instance, 95% of countries that have seen advances in the last decade have populations under 50 million, whereas only 74% of countries with declining freedoms have populations of that size.

Overall, the report paints a concerning picture of the current state and trends of global freedom of expression.

Article 19. 'Global Expression Report 2023'. 2023.

Author: Information Society Project at the Yale Law School, Tiffany Li
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“On September 28, 2018, the Wikimedia/Yale Law School Initiative on Intermediaries and Information (WIII) hosted an intensive, day-long workshop entitled “Intermediaries and Private Speech Regulation: A Transatlantic Dialogue.” The Yale Information Society Project (ISP) and the Stanford Center for Internet and Society (CIS) co-hosted this event, with support from the Oscar M. Ruebhausen Fund at Yale Law School. This intimate, invitation-only academic workshop took place at Yale Law School. For this workshop, WIII and CIS convened leading experts from the United States and the European Union for a series of non-public, guided discussions. Participants discussed the complicated issue of private speech regulation and the connections between platform liability laws and fundamental rights, including free expression. This report presents a synthesized collection of ideas and questions raised by one or more of the experts during the event, providing an overview of theoretical ideas, practical experiences, and directions for further research on rapidly evolving questions of intermediary liability from a uniquely transatlantic perspective.”

Information Society Project at the Yale Law School, Tiffany Li. “Intermediaries & Private Speech Regulation: A Transatlantic Dialogue (Workshop Report)”. 2018.

Author: Open Society Foundations, Marius Dragomir and Mark Thompson (eds)
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“The Mapping Digital Media project examines the global opportunities and risks created by new and digital media. Covering 56 countries, the project assesses how these changes affect the core democratic service that any media system should provide – news about political, economic, and social affairs – and how they can help advance open society values. The Mapping Digital Media research confirms that digital television and the internet have had a radical impact on media businesses, journalists, and citizens at large. As might be expected, platforms distributing journalism have proliferated, media companies are revamping their operations, and citizens have access to a cornucopia of news and information sources. Other findings were less foreseeable: digitization has brought no pressure to reform state broadcasters, less than one-third of countries found that digital media have helped to expand the social impact of investigative journalism, and digitization has not significantly affected total news diversity. The Global Findings reveal other common themes across the world: 1) Governments and politicians have too much influence over who owns, operates, and regulates the media, 2.) Many media markets are rife with monopolistic, corrupt, or untransparent practices, 3) It’s not clear where many governments and other bodies get their evidence for changes or updates to laws and policies on media and communication, 4) Media and journalism online offer hope of new, independent sources of information, but are also a new battleground for censorship and surveillance, 5) Data about the media worldwide are still uneven, unstandardized, and unreliable, and are often proprietary rather than freely accessible. The 16 chapters in this report provide a unique survey of thematic and geographical trends, and provide new insight into how the information and communications revolution is shaping the new landscape of media and journalism.” 

Open Society Foundations, Marius Dragomir and Mark Thompson (eds). “Mapping Digital Media: Global Findings”. 2014.  

Author: The Future of Free Speech (Jacob Mchangama, Natalie Alkiviadou, and Raghav Mendiratta)
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“For the first time in human history, ordinary people have been given the ability to publicly share and access information instantly and globally through social media, without the mediation of traditional gatekeepers such as newspaper editors or government censors. Yet, the growth of social media has made even democracies wary of the resulting impact on the global ecosystem of news, opinion, and information. Unmediated and instant access to the global digital sphere has gone hand in hand with the amplification and global dissemination of harms, including online extremism and disinformation. With the entry into force of the Network Enforcement Act (NetzDG) in 2017, Germany became the first country in the world to require online platforms with more than 2 million users in their country to remove “manifestly illegal” content within a time period of 24 hours. Since the adoption of the NetzDG, more than 20 States around the world – including France – have adopted similar laws imposing “intermediary liability” on social media platforms. While democracies impose intermediary liability to counter online harms, ‘outsourcing’ government mandated content regulation to private actors raises serious questions about the consequences on online freedom of expression. The objective of this report is a preliminary and indicative attempt to sketch the duration of national legal proceedings in hate speech cases in selected Council of Europe States. The length of domestic criminal proceedings is then compared with the timeframe within which some governments require platforms to decide and take down hate speech under laws such as the NetzDG. Due to the nature of the relevant data, the following comparison between national criminal proceedings and time limits under government mandated notice and take down regimes is merely indicative and preliminary. Nevertheless, it is hoped that it may contribute to answering the question of how to develop time limits that are consistent with a meaningful assessment of the free speech interests of users of large social media platforms. A question essential to the future of online free speech.”

The Future of Free Speech, Jacob Mchangama, Natalie Alkiviadou, and Raghav Mendiratta. “Rushing to Judgment: Are Short Mandatory Takedown Limits for Online Hate Speech Compatible with the Freedom of Expression?”. 2021.….