International System of Protection

International System of Protection

The resources on this Module highlight the many commonalities between the United Nations system of protection for freedom of expression, and the regional systems in Europe, Africa and the Americas. Readings focus on their birth and development, their main treaties and freedom of expression provisions, and their corresponding instruments of enforcement and accountability, primarily Courts.

10 items found, showing 1 - 10

United Nations

Author: UNESCO
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“The surge of access to information (ATI) laws reached 126 worldwide by the end of 2019. This Report explores recent developments in regard to the laws and their implementation, covering evolving international standards, models for implementation bodies, and new digital challenges and opportunities. In order to understand the drivers of change, the Report examines trendsetting activities within UNESCO, the Sustainable Development Agenda, the Universal Periodic Review, the Open Government Partnership, and the standard-setting work of regional intergovernmental organizations and national oversight bodies. The research also draws on unique UNESCO surveys and analysis of Voluntary National Reports presented at the United Nation’s High-level Political Forum. The research shows how Sustainable Development Goal 16.10 offers a new opportunity for advancing ATI.”

UNESCO. “Access to Information: A New Promise for Sustainable Development”. 2019. https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000371485.

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 reviews the international context which presided over the development and adoption of the ICCPR, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the various debates which characterized the drafting of the provision related to freedom of expression. Callamard also explains two additional institutions which have made the ICCPR a particularly important tool for the protection of human rights and freedom of expression in particular.

Author: OSCE
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“Artificial intelligence (AI) – a broad concept used in policy discussions to refer to many different types of technology – greatly influences and impacts the way people seek, receive, impart and access information and how they exercise their right to freedom of expression in the digital ecosystem. If implemented responsibly, AI can benefit societies, but there is a genuine risk that its deployment by States and private companies, such as internet intermediaries, could have a deteriorating effect on human rights… [This Paper] maps the key challenges to freedom of expression presented by AI across the OSCE region, in light of international and regional standards on human rights and AI. It identifies a number of overarching problems that AI poses to freedom of expression and human rights in general, in particular: (a.) The limited understanding of the implications for freedom of expression caused by AI, in particular machine learning; (b.) Lack of respect for freedom of expression in content moderation and curation; (c.) State and non-State actors circumventing due process and rule of law in AI-powered content moderation; (d.) Lack of transparency regarding the entire process of AI design, deployment and implementation; (e.) Lack of accountability and independent oversight over AI systems; and, (f.) Lack of effective remedies for violation of the right to freedom of expression in relation to AI. This Paper observes that these problems became more pronounced in the first months of 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic incentivized States and the private sector to use AI even more, as part of measures introduced in response to the pandemic. A tendency to revert to technocratic solutions, including AI-powered tools, without adequate societal debate or democratic scrutiny was witnessed. Using four specific case studies (“security threats”; “hate speech”; media pluralism and diversity online; and the impact of AI-powered State surveillance on freedom of expression), this Paper shows how these problems manifest themselves. This Paper concludes that there is a need to further raise awareness, and improve understanding, of the impact of AI related to decision-making policies and practices on freedom of expression, next to having a more systematic overview of regional approaches and methodologies in the OSCE region. It provides a number of preliminary recommendations to OSCE participating States and internet intermediaries, to help ensure that freedom of expression and information are better protected when AI is deployed.”

OSCE. “Artificial Intelligence and Freedom of Expression”. 2020. https://www.osce.org/files/f/documents/9/f/456319_0.pdf

Author: UN Human Rights Council, Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Freedom of Opinion and Expression
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“This research report concerns the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, and through any media – including in the form of art. As such, it provides an overview of the human rights law framework applicable to artistic freedom of expression, highlights several contemporary instances of threat to artistic freedom, and concludes with a limited number of recommendations for States, private actors and civil society.” 

UN Human Rights Council (Forty-Fourth Session), Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Freedom of Opinion and Expression. Artistic Freedom of Expression. A/HRC/44/49/Add.2. July 2020. 

Author: The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
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The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. 'Artistic Freedom: 2022 Global Report, Re|Shaping Policies for Creativity'. 2022. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxAB50_P_tY&t=4s

Author: Susan Benesch
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“Private social media companies regulate much more speech than any government does, and their platforms are being used to bring about serious harm. Yet companies govern largely on their own, and in secret. To correct this, advocates have proposed that companies follow international human-rights law. That law–by far the world’s best-known rules for governing speech–could improve regulation itself, and would also allow for better transparency and oversight on behalf of billions of people who use social media. This paper argues that for this to work, the law must first be interpreted to clarify how (and whether) each of its provisions are suited to this new purpose. For example, the law provides that speech may be restricted to protect national security, as one of only five permissible bases for limiting speech. Governments, for which international law was written, may regulate on that basis, but not private companies which have no national security to protect. To fill some of the gap, the paper explains and interprets the most relevant provisions of international human-rights law–Articles 19 and 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which pertain to freedom of expression–for use by social media companies, in novel detail.”

Benesch, Susan. “But Facebook’s Not a Country: How to Interpret Human Rights Law for Social Media Companies.” Yale Journal on Regulation Online Bulletin 38 (2020): 86-111.

Author: United Nations General Assembly
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"The present report is submitted pursuant to General Assembly resolution 76/227. In it, the Secretary-General describes the challenges posed by disinformation and the responses to it, sets out the relevant international legal framework and discusses measures that States and technology enterprises reported to have taken to counter disinformation. The Secretary-General notes that countering the different manifestations of disinformation requires addressing underlying societal tensions, fostering respect for human rights, online and offline, and supporting a plural civic space and media landscape."

UN, General Assembly. Report of the Secretary-General. Countering disinformation for the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. A/77/287. 12 August 2022. https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N22/459/24/PDF/N2245924.pdf?OpenElement

Author: UN Human Rights Council, David Kaye
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“The present report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, is being submitted to the Human Rights Council pursuant to Council resolution 34/18. In the report the Special Rapporteur registers alarm that some efforts to combat the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic may be failing to meet the standards of legality, necessity and proportionality. The Special Rapporteur highlights five areas of concern, showing that access to information, independent media and other free expression rights are critical to meeting the challenges of pandemic.”

UN Human Rights Council, Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, David Kaye. Disease Pandemics and the Freedom of Opinion and Expression. A/HRC/44/49. April 2020.

Author: Amy Shepherd
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“In the years since 9/11, international security discourse has heightened concerns around extremism, positioning this as the key threat that States need to address in order to prevent and combat terrorism. Politically, enactment of domestic legislation curtailing extremist expressions has been internationally authorised and encouraged and in May 2016 the United Kingdom (‘UK’), spearheading a liberal State trend towards rights-restrictive approaches to extremism, announced its intention to enact legislation imposing a range of civil sanctions on those publicly expressing extremist views. But laws such as this restrict the core democratic right to freedom of expression and so must comply with the tripartite requirements for restrictions enshrined in Article 19(3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (‘ICCPR’) to be legitimate. Using the UK to dynamically exemplify the issues, this paper assesses the manner in which the laws curtailing extremist expressions comply with international human rights law.”

Shepherd, Amy. “Extremism, Free Speech and the Rule of Law: Evaluating the Compliance of Legislation Restricting Extremist Expressions with Article 19 ICCPR”. Utrecht Journal of International and European Law 33 (2017): 62-83. http://doi.org/10.5334/ujiel.405

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?