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

European System

Author: Itxaso Domínguez de Olazábal
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7amleh, the Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media, published a study on Palestinian digital rights and the global impact of EU legislation - the Digital Services Act (DSA) in particular. The study tackles the following questions: How does the DSA’s approach to hate speech and other harmful content affect the digital rights of Palestinians and advocates for Palestinian rights? What are the potential consequences of the DSA’s politicization by the EU in the Israel/Palestine context? What are the advantages and risks of the DSA for Palestinian digital rights? The study explains the DSA, interrogates its relevance for Palestinian digital rights, includes a case study of events that “​​worryingly point to the DSA having been applied with bias” in the timeframe starting from October 7, and concludes with recommendations addressing the EU institutions, civil society, and online platforms.

Itxaso Domínguez de Olazábal. Position Paper on Palestinian Digital Rights and the Extraterritorial Impact of the European Union’s Digital Services Act (DSA). 7amleh, April 2024.


Author: Council of Europe
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The Recommendation places itself among the current rules and procedures for addressing hate speech as well as in the larger context of European and international human rights law. It draws on the substantial body of case law from the European Court of Human Rights. The recommendation offers states and a variety of various players, including politicians and political parties, internet platforms, media, and civil society organizations, useful advice as well as a complete legal and policy framework to address hate speech, both offline and online.

Council of Europe. Committee of Ministers. CM/Rec (2022) 16. Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers to member States on combating hate speech. 20 May 2022. 

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.

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: Teresa Ribeiro
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The document underscores the significant negative impact such technology can have on media freedom within the OSCE region.

"The Representative concluded that the implementation of stringent measures is vital. This includes mandating effective and binding prior authorization of any surveillance on a journalist granted by an independent authority under judicial control. Additionally, such surveillance must be limited in duration and scope, and applicable only to the most severe offenses. Utilizing digital surveillance technology should be carefully justified and integrated into a robust rule-of-law framework, accompanied by a meaningful redress mechanism."

Teresa Ribeiro. 'Communiqué by the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media On the Use of Digital Surveillance Technology on Journalists'. 2023.


Author: Síofra O’Leary
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In this speech delivered by Síofra O’Leary at the ‘Conference The European Convention of Human Rights at 70: Milestones and Major Achievements’ in September 2020, she emphasises on certain themes which merit attention in an era of rapid technological development. She notes, “It’s commonplace that the digital era in which we now live has had significant legal effects primarily in two areas of Convention law: freedom of expression, protected by Article 10, which also covers the right to receive and impart information, and the right to respect for private life guaranteed by Article 8. Think of the endorsement of the internet as one of the principal means of expression in Ahmet Yildirim v. Turkey, or recognition of the risks it entails in Editorial Board of Pravoye Delo and Shtekel v. Ukraine. Think of the establishment of safeguards and protection regarding the use of geolocation devices by State actors in Uzun or Ben Faiza, the liability of internet news portals for customer comments in Delfi v. Estonia, or even the all-essential balancing of expression and privacy rights when it comes to the right to be forgotten the subject of M.L. and W.W. v. Germany, to name but a few. However, today I prefer to concentrate on Convention articles which have been treated as more peripheral in discussions relating to the consequences for human rights of technology and digitalisation: 1) jurisdiction within the meaning of Article 1 of the Convention (II); 2) challenges posed by technological advances for the judicial process itself, given the standards in Article 6 (III); 3) legal questions which may arise in relation to the right to free elections, guaranteed by Article 3 of Protocol n° 1 (VI), and, 4) the consequences, if any, in a digitally dependent world, for the right not to be deprived of an education in Article 2 of Protocol n° 1 (VII).”

O’Leary, Síofra. “Conference The European Convention of Human Rights at 70: Milestones and Major Achievements – Human Rights and Technological Developments”. 2020.  

Author: Columbia Global Freedom of Expression, Dirk Voorhoof
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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, professor Dr. Dirk Voorhoof  from Ghent University, Belgium addresses how is freedom of speech, freedom of expression, guaranteed under the European human rights system

Author: Columbia Global Freedom of Expression, Agnès Callamard
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In this segment of the MOOC created by Columbia Global Freedom of Expression, Agnès Callamard focuses on a case from the European Court: Wegrzynowski and Smolczewski v. Poland

Author: European Court of Human Rights
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The ECtHR’s Press Service published an updated factsheet that includes the Court’s case law and pending cases grouped by themes on hate speech. The factsheet explains two approaches used by the Court in considering such cases: 1) “the approach of exclusion from the protection of the Convention,” based on Article 17; and 2) “the approach of setting restrictions on protection,” based on paragraph 2 of Article 10. The two approaches structure the first part of the cases’ list, which is not exhaustive; each case is marked by a narrower corresponding theme (“Threat to the democratic order,” “Racial hate,” “Incitement to violence or hatred against people because of their sexual orientation,” “Incitement to ethnic hatred,” and “Extremism” among many others). The factsheet’s second part contains two big groups of cases sorted as “Online hate speech” and “Hate speech and right of others to respect for private life.” The most recent cases highlighted in the factsheet include Lenis v. Greece and Rivadulla Duró v. Spain (both are decisions on admissibility), Ossewaarde v. Russia, Fragoso Dacosta v. Spain, Sanchez v. France, and Valaitis v. Lithuania



Author: European Commission
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"The Declaration on Digital Rights and Principles presents the EU’s commitment to a secure, safe and sustainable digital transformation that puts people at the centre, in line with EU core values and fundamental rights."

European Commission. 'European Declaration on Digital Rights and Principles'. 2022.