Scope of Freedom of Expression

This Module focuses on the extent and limits of freedom of expression under international human rights treaties beginning with the ICCPR, as well as under the regional human rights conventions of Europe, the Americas and Africa. The Module includes extensive readings and jurisprudence on the three-part test, the legal test that governs in many countries around the world the legitimate restrictions to freedom of expression

10 items found, showing 11 - 10

Meaning of Article 19 and Regional Equivalents

Author: Dirk Voorhoof, Ad van Loon, Charlotte Vier, Tarlach McGonagle (Ed.)
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"This revised edition contains summaries of over 270 judgments or decisions by the Court and provides hyperlinks to the full text of each of the summarised judgments or decisions (via HUDOC, the Court’s online case-law database). It can be read in various ways: for initial orientation in the steadily growing Article 10 case-law; for refreshing one’s knowledge of that case-law; for quick reference and checking, as well as for substantive research."

Dirk Voorhoof, t al and Tarlach McGonagle  (Ed. Sup.), Freedom of Expression, the Media and Journalists: Case-law of the European Court of Human Rights, IRIS Themes, European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, 2017

Author: Oxford Kashmir Forum, Prof. David Kaye
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This lecture is the sixth to be delivered in a series of lectures which are part of the Oxford Kashmir Forum’s online course on ‘International Human Rights Law and Kashmir: Prospects and Challenges’. In this lecture, Prof. David Kaye discusses the ways in which the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression is guaranteed under International Human Rights Law as well as the obligations it imposes on States. In particular, Prof. Kaye emphasizes on the role such laws play in our online lives as well as discusses the nature of the function of the actors who animate the space of internet governance. Recognizing issues of speech and expression as some of the most direct as well as salient issues of law and public policy globally, he provokes his listener to think more deeply about what those issues are as well as who should determine answers to those issues in a democratic world.   

Oxford Kashmir Forum (Prof. David Kaye). “Freedom of Speech and Expression.” 2021. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5YB7y-WWvM.

Author: UN Human Rights Committee
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The UN Human Rights Committee adopted (102nd Session) General Comment 34 on States parties' obligations under Article 19 of the ICCPR: Freedoms of opinion and expression (CCPR/C/GC/34). The General Comment provides guidance to States on what the freedoms of opinion and expression mean in practice. Among others, the General Comment refers to: Freedom of expression and the media; Right of access to information; Freedom of expression and political rights; The application of article 19 (3); Limitative scope of restrictions on freedom of expression in certain specific areas; The relationship between articles 19 and 20.

UN, Human Rights Committee. General Comment No. 34. CCPR/C/GC/34. 12 September 2011

Author: UNESCO
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"With [a] global mandate to protect 'the free flow of ideas by word and image', UNESCO acts worldwide to advance fundamental freedoms, and to ensure that obligations are fulfilled and rights are exercised. [UNESCO works] to increase the knowledge and capacities of judiciary members on international and regional standards on freedom of expression and the safety of journalists. As a result, since 2013, more than 18,000 judicial operators and civil society representatives in Latin America, Africa and the Arab region have been trained on these issues. This toolkit on international standards for freedom of expression builds on these efforts, aiming to give a global scope to this endeavour. By reinforcing the knowledge and capacities of the judiciary, the toolkit effectively contributes to the implementation of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, adopted by the UN Chief Executives Board in 2012 and recognised by the UN General Assembly in 2013. The Plan of Action aims to create "a free and safe environment for journalists and media workers in both conflict and non-conflict situations, with a view to strengthening peace, democracy and development worldwide". [It is hoped] that this toolkit will be a useful tool for judges, public prosecutors, judicial training institutes, academics and judicial actors at large, so that respect for freedom of expression, public access to information, and the safety of journalists become an integral part of efforts to guarantee and promote human rights in our societies."

UNESCO. “Global Toolkit for Judicial Actors: International Legal Standards on Freedom of Expression, Access to Information and Safety of Journalists”. 2021. https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000378755. 

Author: The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
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The Guidelines aim to promote freedom of expression and information access while addressing illegal and harmful content. They call for states to apply regulation in accordance with international human rights standards and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The Guidelines serve as a resource for policymakers, regulatory bodies, digital platforms, and civil society in their advocacy and accountability efforts. They will inform regulatory processes for digital platforms, leading them in an open, transparent, multistakeholder, and evidence-based manner. The Guidelines will contribute to UN-wide processes, such as the Global Digital Compact, the UN Summit of the Future, and the Code of Conduct for public information integrity.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. 'Guidelines for regulating digital platforms: A multistakeholder approach to safeguarding freedom of expression and access to information'. 2023. https://www.unesco.org/sites/default/files/medias/fichiers/2023/04/draft2_guidelines_for_regulating_digital_platforms_en.pdf

Author: Amnesty International
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This short course 'Human Rights: The Right to Freedom of Expression' created by Amnesty International "will equip you with the knowledge to understand and claim your right to freedom of expression, and the skills and confidence to take action to defend it. Learn from the experts at Amnesty International how to claim and defend your rights in this human rights course. You will be challenged to think critically and devise effective actions to defend the human rights of others. You will be able to adapt the human rights of freedom of expression, association and assembly to real life situations and come face-to-face with human rights activists on the front line of human rights defense." "The course ran from 17 November to 8 December 2015 and remains online for you to browse or refresh your knowledge in archive mode."

Author: Alan Wehbé
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Wehbé states that there is a duality between the legal recognition and practice of promoting the freedom of expression globally. In particular, at times when such freedom is most vital to the generation of the ‘consent of the governed’, International Law appears to allow for censorship. In this article, Wehbé makes the case for increasing international legal protections for freedom of expression with the objective of encouraging and fostering the growth of free governments. The article is divided into four sections, which outline the international legal protections for freedom of expression, the application of these protections in the context of emergent or re-emergent governments, and proposals by way of which multilateral treaty and State practice(s) can achieve the end of protecting freedom of expression.

Wehbé, Alan. “Increasing International Legal Protections for Freedom of Expression.” Notre Dame Journal of International & Comparative Law 8, no. 2 (2018): 45-61.

Author: Association for Progressive Communications
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These materials are part of the Multimedia Training Kit (MMTK). Here you will find links to a) Module Handout; b) Module Trainers' notes; c) Module Questions and case studies; d) Module Power Point Slides. "The MMTK provides an integrated set of multimedia training materials and resources to support community media, community multimedia centres, telecentres, and other initiatives using information and communications technologies (ICTs) to empower communities and support development work. [...] This module explores the relationship between human rights, as understood in the Inter-American Human Rights System, and ICTs such as the internet. As well as this handout, it includes a set of presentation slides, exercises and case studies, and a list of additional readings. It raises the following general questions which should be considered by participants: 1. How has the internet changed people’s lives? What rights have been affected positively or negatively due to access to the internet? 2. Should online and offline human rights be understood differently? 3. What should the role of the state be regarding the exercise of human rights online? 4. What are the implications of the global nature of the internet for national human rights laws and international human rights instruments?" 

Association for Progressive Communications, Inter-American Human Rights System instruments and their application to the digital environment, May 2016.

Author: CIMA, Special Rapporteur Edison Lanza, UNESCO and Silvia Chocarro
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“The report aims to translate in a concise and clear manner more than 70 years of international jurisprudence on freedom of expression, and outline a road map for judicial operators so that they can make decisions that are in line with international standards.” Available only in Spanish.

Author: UNESCO, Avani Singh
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This toolkit for judicial officials in Africa on international and regional standards on freedom of expression "encompasses a broad variety of issues, which should be considered by judi-cial actors in the course of their work to protect human rights. It covers legal standards of freedom of expression according to international and regional instruments and core texts and surveys pertinent jurisprudence on freedom of expression from regional and sub-regional courts or quasi-judicial bodies that deal with human rights issues.

The toolkit explicates conditions under which speech can be legitimately restricted, while also giving prominence to the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity, the latter representing one of the main obstacles to guaranteeing freedom of expression and freedom of information. Finally, the toolkit also addresses recent challenges to freedom of expression on the internet, including on social media, which have become vital means for sharing information and expressing views. The question of gender representation in media content and careers, and gender-specific threats for women journalists, are also addressed.The protection of freedom of expression requires the active efforts of a great variety of actors. While this toolkit has been conceived primarily for judges, prosecutors, trainers of judges, lawyers and other legal experts, it is my hope that civil society actors, members of security forces and media professionals will also find its contents of great value to their work. Given the importance of freedom of expression as a foundational value of free societies, I believe the toolkit’s material and messages will be of relevance to all concerned stakeholders — that is to say, to all individuals everywhere."