Theoretical Foundations

Theoretical Foundations

Drawing on the work of thinkers from various political, cultural and religious traditions, the Module provides resources that explore why freedom of expression and information matters. It distinguishes between the main theories underpinning the protection of free speech and the rejection of censorship, and links these philosophical arguments to more recent international political developments.

10 items found, showing 1 - 10

Democracy and Development

Author: IACmHR
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In October 2000, following debates among different civil society organizations, and in support of the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights approved the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression. The Declaration constitutes a basic document for interpreting Article 13 of the American Convention on Human Rights. In light of the importance of these principles, the Commission also published an interpretation of the principles set forth in the Declaration.

OAS, IACmHR. Background and Interpretation of the Declaration of Principles. 108th regular period of sessions. 2-20 October 2000

Author: IACtHR
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“[T]he Government of Costa Rica […] submitted to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights […] an advisory opinion request relating to the interpretation of Articles 13 [Freedom of thought and expression] and 29 [Restrictions Regarding Interpretation] of the American Convention on Human Rights […] as they affect the compulsory membership in an association prescribed by law for the practice of journalism […]. The request also sought the Court's interpretation relating to the compatibility of Law No. 4420 of September 22, 1969, Organic Law of the Colegio de Periodistas (Association of Journalists) of Costa Rica […], with the provisions of the aforementioned articles.”

IACtHR, Compulsory Membership in an Association Prescribed by Law for the Practice of Journalism. Advisory Opinion OC-5/85. Series A, No. 5. 13 November 1985

Author: IACmHR
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In October 2000, following extensive debates among different civil society organizations, and in support of the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights approved the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression.  The Declaration constitutes a basic document for interpreting Article 13 of the American Convention on Human Rights.

OAS, IACmHR. Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression. 108th regular period of sessions. 2-20 October 2000

Author: Columbia Global Freedom of Expression, Agnès Callamard
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In this segment of the MOOC 'Freedom of Expression in the Age of Globalization' created by Columbia Global Freedom of Expression, Agnès Callamard explores why freedom of expression and information matters, and the values and principles that are established through free speech. Specifically this video explores the relation of freedom of expression with Democracy and Development

Author: Amartya Sen
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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: Alexander Meiklejohn
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Discussing the relationship between the right to free speech and democracy.

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. The Foundational Course will include four main segments. It will first survey the thinking of 19th century and contemporary political theorists, Judges in the early years of the twentieth century, and economists to discover why freedom of expression and information matters, and the values and principles that are established through free speech. The second will review the emergence of an international system of protection for freedom of expression, including the international and regional institutions and standards, and the role of international courts. The third and fourth class will focus on the scope of freedom of expression and on its legitimate limits. We will provide answer two key questions: What kind of speech is protected under international standards? What kind of speech may be restricted by Governments and how can it be legally restricted?

Introduction to Human Rights | Lesson 9: "Freedom of Expression"

Author: Tomás Vial, MOOC Chile
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This lesson is part of an International Human Rights free online course created by the MOOC Chile project. The lesson answer the questions: What is freedom of expression? And why it is an important right? "In this class [they] first refer to the sources of freedom of speech in international human rights law as well as to which aspects are covered by it. [They] will also explain which types of discourse are protected and which not. Then [they] will summarize the main justifications given for protecting speech freedom. After that, [they] will deal with the main restrictions to which the freedom of expression may be subjected." 

Author: Centre for Human Rights at University of Pretoria, Frans Viljoen
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In the first segment of the MOOC 'International and African Legal Framework on Freedom of Expression, Access to Information and the Safety of Journalists' developed by the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria with the support of UNESCO, professor Frans Viljoen gives a general introduction to Human Rights. Viljoen explains the different State obligations, the international sources from which these obligations are derived, and the monitoring mechanisms available in the universal system and in the Africa system in particular. Finally, Viljoen explains the link between freedom of expression and democracy.

This segment is part of Module 1 of the MOOC: General Introduction to the International and Regional Framework on Freedom of Expression