2024

Vilify, Ridicule, Disinform: Political Communication and Media Trust in the Age of Generative AI

Annotation

A collaboration between the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), the paper interrogates political communication and media trust in the age of AI, along with possible technical and policy solutions. ISD Research Fellows Christian Schwieter and Milan Gandhi start by explaining generative AI systems and survey ways through which political actors have been resorting to AI tools. The report builds on the empirical analysis and tailors its insights for policymakers. One of the recommendations is to “[r]aise awareness of how seemingly non-political uses of generative AI can be exploited for politics, in particular the creation of non-consensual intimate content.” After evaluating emerging solutions, including legislation, the authors conclude with an emphasis on the importance of “restoring citizens’ trust in democratic institutions” and stress that technology regulation and reduction of disinformation are solutions of only a partial nature.

Author
Christian Schwieter and Milan Gandhi
2024

2024 the Year of Democracy: African Electoral Authorities Release Guidelines for Social Media Use

Annotation

The Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) published guidelines tailored for the use of digital platforms at the time of elections. They aim to both mobilize the platforms’ positive potential and combat the spread of disinformation, hate speech, and online gender-based violence, among other possible harms. The Guidelines were adopted by the General Assembly of the Association of African Election Authorities in Cotonou, Benin, on 3 November 2023 and represent a “crucial normative framework” for the continent. Emphasizing obligations to preserve the rights to equality and non-discrimination, free and fair elections, freedom of expression, access to information, freedom of assembly, rights to privacy and remedy, protection of women’s rights, as well as ethnic, cultural, and linguistic rights, the Guidelines directly address states, election management bodies, social media, regulatory bodies, political parties, “African traditional institutions and religious bodies,” civil society, and journalists. The Guidelines are in Arabic, English, French, and Portuguese.

Author
Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA)
2024

APC Submission on Protection Against Violence and Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, in Relation to Freedom of Expression, Association, and Assembly

Annotation

The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) presents its submission to the Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (IE SOGI). The IE SOGI’s thematic report for the UN Human Rights Council’s 56th session will explore how freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and freedom of association rights “relate to protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.” The APC submission focuses on the digital sphere and includes inputs from civil society activists and organizations that review the following countries: India, Paraguay, Uganda, Botswana, Rwanda, South Africa, Indonesia, and Türkiye. Underscoring that “violence and discrimination initiated offline can be aggravated and perpetrated online, and vice versa,” the submission concludes with recommendations to governments and tech companies.

Author
Association for Progressive Communications (APC)
2024

Social Media Platforms In The Age Of The Fediverse

Annotation

Published by Masaar, a community of lawyers and technologists advancing digital rights in Egypt, the article explains “the Fediverse” as a challenge to the concentration of Internet power in the hands of few tech companies. Two core ideas build the Fediverse: 1) decentralization and 2) federalism. The article dives into those and gives an overview of the Fediverse’s technological foundation, its philosophy, objectives, first application and evolution. The article also lists some of the networks currently running - Mastodon, PeerTube, Diaspora, and Pixelfed - and discusses the Fediverse’s future along with the challenges it entails, such as difficulty in attracting users, lack of sustainability guarantees, and security threats. The paper concludes on an optimistic note, encouraging Internet users to try a Fediverse application: “Building a free Internet is the only way for it to support its users’ rights and freedoms. Thus, tools like the Fediverse are very important for the future of the Internet and accordingly for the future of us all.”

Author
Masaar
2024

Journalism, Media, and Technology Trends and Predictions 2024

Annotation

The report, written by Nic Newman and published by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism with the support of the Google News Initiative, starts straightforwardly: it declares 2024 as “another challenging year ahead for journalism.” Artificial intelligence, the disruptions it delivers to the media sector, critical elections taking place around the world, and the continuing wars force journalists and media outlets “to rethink their role and purpose with some urgency.” Journalism content will face radical distribution changes due to Search Generative Experiences and AI-driven chatbots that will reduce media outlets’ audiences. The report includes findings from a survey conducted between November and December 2023 in which over 300 digital leaders from more than 50 countries and territories participated. Despite the grim forecasts, the report still offers ways for journalists and media to adapt, “Embracing the best of AI while managing its risks will be the underlying narrative of the year ahead.” In this podcast episode of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, Nic Newman discusses the report’s findings and more.

Author
Nic Newman
2024

Uncovering News Deserts in Europe: Risks and Opportunities for Local and Community Media in the EU

Annotation

The Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom (CMPF) published a study of the so-called “news deserts” - areas that lack “sufficient, reliable, and diverse information from trustworthy media sources” - in Europe. The report results from an all-EU research project that assessed challenges and opportunities faced by local and community media outlets in the 27 Member States. The CMPF methodology includes such indicators as economic and political conditions, local journalists’ safety, the degree of media’s inclusiveness towards minorities and marginalized groups, and engagement with the audience. The report concludes with recommendations for the EU, Member States’ national and local authorities, media organizations, journalists, scholars, and other stakeholders. CMPF highlights an urgent issue to address - “the lack of data related to the economic and financial information for both local and community media, as well as locally focused audience measurements and more detailed research on trust, audience perspectives, perceptions and engagement within local media markets.”

Author
Sofia Verza, Tijana Blagojev, Danielle Borges, Jan Kermer, Matteo Trevisan, and Urbano Reviglio, eds.
2024

Access Now Legal Explainer: Internet and Telecommunications Shutdowns in the Assessment of International Crimes

Annotation

Access Now published a report that explains what role internet shutdowns and service disruptions play in the investigations of international crimes. With the case law on international criminal liability in relation to internet shutdowns and service disruptions being meager, Access Now highlights one ruling only - the 2011 ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I decision in the Situation in Libya case - and marks the decision’s significance as the ICC acknowledged shutdowns' relevance. Yet, the report notes the decision is “insufficient to deter authorities from shutting down internet and telecommunications services during conflicts and civil unrest.” Access Now calls on “courts with jurisdiction over international crimes (i) to examine the precedent set by the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I in the Situation in Libya, and (ii) to give due consideration to shutdowns and disruptions of internet and telecommunications services in evaluating the cases brought before them.

Author
Laura Winninger
2023

Democratic Recession and Its Impact on Press Freedom: Case studies from five countries in West Africa

Annotation

The report, published by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) in December 2023, examines the state of democracy in five West African countries - Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, and Niger - analyzing how the democratic erosion affects their press freedom. The report explains the main drivers of democratic recession in the sub-region and highlights “military coup d’états, terrorism and violent extremism, and economic misgovernance.” The three bring crises into the countries’ politics and security, resulting in a shrinking space for media outlets to operate. Among the challenges that the press faces are new repressive legislative projects, the existing laws misused to persecute the media, and extreme economic precariousness. On top of those, journalists are forced to work in unsafe conditions, facing verbal abuse, physical attacks, arrests, and incarceration. MFWA calls for the restoration of democratic governance and offers recommendations for the ECOWAS Commission, governments, regulatory authorities, media organizations, and their owners.

Author
Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)
2023

Cartoonists on the Line: Report on the situation of threatened cartoonists around the world

Annotation

Cartooning for Peace and Cartoonists Rights - network organizations with missions to defend the rights of cartoonists globally - published a report on the challenges of censorship that cartoonists face today. Based on the monitoring and case studies from between 2020 and 2022, the report reviews increased censorship in authoritarian states, hate speech, online trolling, disinformation, and manipulation that targets press cartoonists. The report also looks at criminalization and displacement and how the two became the new normal for many cartoonists. “When you question authority, when you hold up a mirror to authority, that’s what makes you a satirist or a cartoonist,” says Rachita Taneja, a cartoonist from India. “And it is essential that in any healthy democracy that satirists should not face censorship [...]. [O]nly a very insecure and very authoritarian government would silence satirists.” Concluding with recommendations for cartoonists’ organizations, governments, and social media, the report’s authors intend to follow up with a more detailed analytical report in 2025. 

 

Author
Cartooning for Peace & Cartoonists Rights
2023

A Toolkit on Using Counterspeech to Tackle Online Hate Speech

Annotation

The Future of Free Speech and The Dangerous Speech Project developed an interactive toolkit on the use of counterspeech. The toolkit starts by explaining counterspeech through its various definitions and introducing the phenomenon of “counternarrative” with examples of NGOs’ and activists’ campaigns. The toolkit asks, “To what content does counterspeech respond?” and follows with counterspeech goals, strategies, and practical considerations. The examples of counterspeech analyzed by the authors include #iamhere, an international collective counterspeech network; Mirrors of Racism, a Brazilian campaign; the work Hasnain Kazim, a German journalist; Reconquista Internet (RI), a counterspeech group created in response to hate group Reconquista Germanica (RG); and the story of Megan Phelps-Roper, the author of “Unfollow: A Memoir of Loving and Leaving Extremism.”

Author
The Future of Free Speech and The Dangerous Speech Project
2023

Freedom Of Information And Its Impact On The Freedom Of The Media And Press

Annotation

Published by Masaar, a community of lawyers and technologists advancing digital rights in Egypt, this paper explores the interdependence of freedom of information and freedom of the press and media. Noting that more than fifty constitutions around the world recognize the access to information right, the paper explains how significant freedom of information laws are and what positive impact they have on press freedom: freedom of information enables journalism - investigative journalism in particular. Other areas directly impacted by freedom of information that the paper explores are protection against censorship, public trust, accountability of those in power, media pluralism, and democracy in general. “[T]he right to information can enable media to challenge dominant narratives and offer a platform for marginalized voices,” the paper argues. “[...] media freedom is essential for a healthy and vibrant democracy, protecting human rights, promoting public discourse, and informing the public.”

Author
Masaar
2023

East African Court of Justice - Registry / Court Users Guide

Annotation

The East African Court of Justice (EACJ) offers a guide to the registry and court users - East Africans and everyone interested in the EACJ. Arranged in a Q&A format, the guide provides answers to more than forty questions, such as “Why is the East African Court of Justice needed?”, “Who may appear or be represented before the Court?”, and “What are the Form and Content of the Court’s Judgments, Rulings, Decisions, Decrees and Orders?”. The guide starts by explaining the Treaty that established the East African Community (EAC), the Treaty’s objectives, and principles. The guide then covers the EACJ’s structure, the scope of its jurisdiction, and the court’s access, trial, and appeal procedures. The guide concludes with a glossary of legal terms as per the meanings assigned to them by the EAC Treaty.

Author
East African Court of Justice (EACJ)
2023

A Decade of Internet Freedom in Africa: Recounting the Past, Shaping the Future

Annotation

Africa’s ICT think-tank - the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) - published a report documenting the trends of the last decade in internet freedom in Africa. CIPESA has been releasing its annual State of Internet Freedom in Africa report since 2014; the 2023 publication celebrates the report’s 10th anniversary. Thematically reflecting on the past years of research and advocacy for digital rights in Africa, this special edition offers a clear look at the future. The featured essays discuss “Digital Democracy Vs. [Digital] Authoritarianism,” internet shutdowns, social media content regulation, data governance, online activism, new forms of internet censorship, gender dynamics online, state accountability for digital rights, disinformation, media literacy, and surveillance. “[W]hile the essays in this series largely paint a grim picture of where Africa stands today, not all is doom and gloom,” writes Dr. Wairagala Wakabi, CIPESA’s Executive Director. “Each essay in this report offers suggestions for how these authoritarian roadblocks can be navigated to ensure that the great majority of citizens in Africa can enjoy their online rights and for digital democracy to flourish.”

Author
Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA)
2023

Report on Gendered Disinformation and Its Implications for the Right to Freedom of Expression

Annotation

In this report, Irene Khan, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, unpacks gendered disinformation - a phenomenon that, Khan argues, demands more clarity and research. The Special Rapporteur builds on her earlier reports on disinformation and gender inequality in freedom of expression, as well as her conversations with individuals who experienced online abuse and consultations with regional civil society representatives, governments, and companies. Defining and analyzing the concept of gendered disinformation, the Special Rapporteur turns to a feminist framework and applies an intersectional approach. The report stresses the “dual nature” of gendered disinformation, explaining it as “a strategy to silence women and gender-diverse voices” and noting it can be “a form of online gender-based violence in some situations.” Three more parts follow the phenomenon’s framing: “Survivors, harm, actors and vectors,” “Roles, responsibilities and responses: States,” and “Roles, responsibilities and responses: companies and civil society.” The report concludes with recommendations for states, social media companies, and other relevant actors.

Author
Irene Khan, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression
2023

The Next 25: A Collection of Essays on the Future of Human Rights

Annotation

"The Next 25" is a collection of essays published by Article3.org to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to look forward to the next 25 years leading up to its 100th Anniversary. "This digital collection, created in collaboration with HRD@75 Partners, aims to enhance awareness and underscore the importance of the ongoing pursuit of freedom, justice, dignity, and equity for all. The essays offer uniquely positioned perspectives on how to effectively "future-proof" human rights for present and future generations, providing a blueprint for human rights stakeholders to use, reference, and build upon."

Author
Article 3, Humanity United
2023

Press Freedom in Senegal: National, Regional, and Global Frameworks - Resource Toolkit

Annotation

In collaboration with Jonction, a Senegalese digital rights group, and the Media Foundation for West Africa, the International Press Institute (IPI) developed a toolkit that outlines the legal frameworks guaranteeing press freedom, the right to access information, and journalists’ safety in Senegal. The toolkit examines 1) relevant international treaties and standards (UDHR, ICCPR, Universal Periodic Review, and others); 2) regional press freedom commitments (African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption,  The Windhoek Declaration among others); 3) human rights situation in Senegal; 4) regional and sub-regional courts; 5) Senegal’s national frameworks, legislation, and regulatory bodies impacting press freedom; and finally, 6) local resources that offer support to journalists. Ahead of the February 2024 elections in Senegal, "IPI hopes that the stakeholders working to protect and defend media freedom in [the country] and beyond can benefit from this toolkit as a resource to improve the operating environment for journalists in Senegal." The toolkit is available in English and French.

Author
International Press Institute (IPI)
2023

Conceptualizing Journalists’ Safety around the Globe

Annotation

The article published in Digital Journalism, responds to the variety of threats that journalists are subjected to - surveillance, cyberattacks, gendered targeting, hate speech, and many others. The article offers an interdisciplinary framework of journalists’ safety, summarizing it in a conceptual model. The authors look at journalists’ safety through two dimensions: 1) personal (physical, psychological) and 2) infrastructural (digital, financial). The authors see safety on objective and subjective levels and argue “[i]t is moderated by individual (micro), organizational/institutional (meso), and systemic (macro) risk factors, rooted in power dynamics defining boundaries for journalists’ work, which, if crossed, result in threats and create work-related stress.” The article then examines the consequences of work-related stress: While in an ideal scenario stress leads to resilience, compromised safety can provoke journalists’ “exit from the profession” and thus undermine journalism as an institution. 

 

Author
Vera Slavtcheva-Petkova, Jyotika Ramaprasad, Nina Springer, Sallie Hughes, Thomas Hanitzsch, Basyouni Hamada, Abit Hoxha, Nina Steindl
2012

UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity

Annotation

The United Nations Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity is a significant framework aimed at creating a safe environment for journalists and media workers. This comprehensive approach addresses the growing concerns about the risks that journalists face in their line of work. Here are the key elements of the Plan:

1. Awareness-Raising: Increasing public awareness about the critical importance of protecting journalists in ensuring a free and informed society.

2. Prevention: Implementing strategies to prevent attacks and threats against journalists, including safety training and creating a safer working environment.

3. Protection and Prosecution: Developing mechanisms to protect journalists who are at risk and ensuring the prosecution of those responsible for violent acts against them. This includes combating impunity for those who attack or murder journalists.

4. Partnerships: Encouraging collaboration among various stakeholders, including governments, media houses, non-governmental organizations, and UN agencies, to improve the safety of journalists.

5. Monitoring and Reporting: Setting up systems to monitor and report on attacks against journalists, which is crucial for understanding the scope of the problem and devising effective responses.

6. Supporting Victims: Providing support and assistance to journalists who have been attacked, and to the families of those who have been killed.

7. Policy and Legal Frameworks: Promoting the development of national laws and policies that safeguard journalists, in alignment with international human rights standards.

The Plan emphasizes the importance of a free, independent, and pluralistic media in a democratic society and seeks to ensure that journalists can perform their work without undue interference or fear of violence. Its successful implementation requires a commitment from all stakeholders, including states, media organizations, and civil society, to work collectively towards creating a safer environment for journalists around the world.

Author
United Nations
2023

ECtHR Factsheet on Hate Speech

Annotation

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 Court of Human Rights
2022

Proposal for a REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL establishing a common framework for media services in the internal market (European Media Freedom Act) and amending Directive 2010/13/EU

Annotation

The Commission's proposal for the Regulation aims to safeguard media independence and promote media pluralism across the EU, in addition to establishing specific requirements for Very Large Online Platforms as defined under the Digital Services Act.

Author
European Commission
2023

Freedom on the Net 2023: The Repressive Power of Artificial Intelligence

Annotation

For the thirteenth year in a row, there has been a drop in internet freedom worldwide, with digital repression causing the largest decline in Iran. Myanmar was found to have the worst internet freedom conditions in the world, while President Rodrigo Duterte's use of an antiterrorism statute to restrict news sites critical of his administration made matters worse in the Philippines. After a presidential candidate whose campaign manager employed internet trolls to intimidate media outlets was elected, Costa Rica's reputation as a champion of internet freedom came under danger. Attacks on the right to free speech have become more widespread; out of the 70 nations that Freedom on the Net covers, 55 have reported facing legal consequences for online speech, and 41 have executed or killed individuals for their comments posted online.

With 47 governments using commenters to sway online debates, generative artificial intelligence (AI) poses a serious challenge to online disinformation tactics. Disinformation strategies have intensified as a result of the increased sophistication, accessibility, and ease of use of AI-based technologies. Governments have also improved and honed their online censorship strategies; in 22 countries, laws have been passed requiring or rewarding digital companies to use machine learning to filter out objectionable social, political, and religious content.

The defenders of democracy must apply the lessons they have learnt from previous internet governance issues to AI to preserve online freedom. AI has the potential to be a powerful tool for digital repression, increasing the efficiency, speed, cost-effectiveness, and ease of censorship, surveillance, and the production and dissemination of false information.

Author
Freedom House
2022

European Declaration on Digital Rights and Principles

Annotation

"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."

Author
European Commission
2023

Guidelines for regulating digital platforms: A multistakeholder approach to safeguarding freedom of expression and access to information

Annotation

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.

Author
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
2023

Global Expression Report 2023

Annotation

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.

Author
Article 19
2023

Freedom in the World 2023

Annotation

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
Freedom House
2023

Resolution 54/21 on the Right to privacy in the digital age

Annotation

The UN resolution acknowledges that some new and emerging technologies may not be compatible with international human rights law. Evidence shows that emotion recognition technologies are fundamentally incompatible with human rights, and future resolutions should ban these technologies. The resolution also introduces stronger language on remote biometric surveillance systems, such as facial recognition, which raises concerns about their proportionality. The increasing use of biometric technologies has chilling effects on freedom of expression and behaviour, deterring people from participating in public assemblies or expressing their ideas or religious beliefs. Governments are called to prohibit remote biometric identification in publicly accessible spaces and mass surveillance. However, the core group failed to address new challenges for privacy, such as social media monitoring. The resolution is urged to include strong recommendations to ensure social media intelligence collection, analysis, and sharing strictly conforms with human rights standards and data protection frameworks.

Author
United Nations General Assembly
2023

A Trusted Framework for Cross-Border Data Flows

Annotation

This paper aims to identify practical measures to ensure beneficial cross-border data flows continue while addressing the risks they pose. It emphasizes the importance of commercial privacy and trusted government access in achieving trust. A trusted framework for cross-border data flows must be open to democracies operating under the rule of law, rights-protective, practicable, and scalable. The framework should provide meaningful privacy safeguards enforced through effective accountability mechanisms, be achievable by democracies that respect the rule of law, and be scalable to keep up with rapid global change. The paper suggests stakeholders should initiate a multilateral, transparent process that focuses on commercial privacy and trusted government access.

Author
Alex Joel
2023

The Digital Identity Toolkit

Annotation

The toolkit is designed to assist digital rights activists in understanding the complexities of digital identification systems. It provides a framework for understanding these systems and breaking them down into distinct parts, especially for non-experts. The toolkit functions as a "choose your own adventure" game, where players select a Persona and navigate through the System, Harm, and Mitigation stages based on their circumstances. It can also be used to holistically analyze a specific digital ID system by selecting the System cards that apply to the system.

Author
AccessNow
2023

Disinformation, Pandemic and Human Rights

Annotation

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights' Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression (RELE) has released a report titled "Disinformation, pandemic and human rights". The report examines the impact of disinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic, the challenges of collective understanding, internet moderation practices, and the impacts of state measures on human rights. The RELE recommends States respect and guarantee human rights, including freedom of expression, and address the risks of violations during future health emergencies. The report emphasizes the importance of valuing public information and promoting digital debate during emergencies.

Author
Pedro Vaca Villarreal
2023

Towards Meaningful Fundamental Rights Impact Assessments under the DSA

Annotation

The EU's Digital Services Act (DSA) as of August 25, 2023, mandates large online platforms and search engines to assess systemic risks to fundamental rights arising from their services. A policy paper by the European Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ECNL) and Access Now emphasizes the implementation of Article 34(1)b of the DSA, terming it "fundamental rights impact assessment" (FRIA). The paper highlights the absence of harmonized rules for conducting FRIAs and advocates for grounding assessments in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. It proposes harmonizing existing methodologies globally, focusing on mitigating risks to freedom of expression and information through meaningful and effective evaluations, with recommendations aiming to guide both the European Commission and the platforms in identifying and addressing the impacts of their services.

Author
European Center for Not-for-Profit Law, AccessNow
2021

When bodies become data: Biometric technologies and freedom of expression

Annotation

This 2021 Policy Paper published by ARTICLE 19 provides a detailed overview of the potential harms of Biometric technologies, including violations of the fundamental rights of privacy and freedom of expression as well as “data protection, human dignity, non-discrimination, self-determination and the right to access an effective remedy.” Further, abuse of these technologies by law enforcement and other state bodies can result in discrimination from profiling of marginalized and at-risk communities. The Policy Brief provides case studies on the use of facial recognition and emotion recognition technologies, and offers a broad range of recommendations. Based on the gathered evidence, ARTICLE 19 calls for “a moratorium on the development and deployment of all biometric technologies until vital human rights safeguards are in place.” 

 

Author
ARTICLE 19
2023

Communiqué by the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media On the Use of Digital Surveillance Technology on Journalists

Annotation

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."

Author
Teresa Ribeiro
2023

Innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls

Annotation

In a follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women, the Commission on the Status of Women issued these conclusions. They emphasize the importance of promoting human rights in the development, deployment, evaluation, and regulation of technologies, ensuring adequate safeguards to create an open, secure, stable, accessible, and affordable information and communications technology environment for all women and girls. The Commission acknowledges that technology can enhance women's and girls' rights, but it can also perpetuate gender stereotypes and negative social norms, perpetuating inequalities. It emphasizes the need to address structural barriers to achieving these rights. The Commission further calls for women's equal participation in decision-making and leadership positions for gender equality, empowerment, and human rights. To reach those goals, new policies and programs are required to promote digital technology use and address potential negative impacts.

Author
United Nations
2023

Social Media 4 Peace: Content moderation and freedom of expression handbook

Annotation

"Offering a concise overview of the current state of content moderation on the largest social media platforms and the impacts on freedom of expression, the practical handbook seeks to dissect the complex intersection of freedom of expression, content moderation, and the business models of these tech giants.

The handbook, produced by ARTICLE 19 under the UNESCO project Social Media 4 Peace funded by the European Union, includes numerous concrete examples and cases to illustrate the questions raised by different standards, practices and policies pertinent to content moderation. It builds upon ARTICLE 19’s policies and expertise in content moderation and platform regulation and reflects ARTICLE 19’s long-standing calls that measures responding to problematic content including ‘disinformation’ and ‘hate speech’ must always conform with international standards on freedom of expression and other human rights."

Author
Article 19
2023

Sustainable development and freedom of expression: why voice matters

Annotation

"In the present report, the Special Rapporteur explores the linkages between the right to freedom of expression, including the right to information, and sustainable development. She introduces a paradigm shift in looking at sustainable development through the lens of freedom of expression. While recognizing important progress made in normative standards for access to information, the Special Rapporteur highlights that more is needed to ensure that the voices of those most disadvantaged in society are heard. She argues that only when both access to information and the effective participation of youth, Indigenous communities, the media, human rights defenders, civil society actors and others are fulfilled will the promise to leave no one behind be realized. As world leaders prepare to gather at the United Nations Headquarters in September 2023 to review progress on meeting the Sustainable Development Goals, the Special Rapporteur calls for renewed political commitment to uphold freedom of expression, an enabler of sustainable development."

Author
Irene Khan
2022

Journalism is a public good: World trends in freedom of expression and media development; Global report 2021/2022

Annotation

The 2021/2022 World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development report focuses on journalism as a public good, analyzing trends in media freedom, pluralism, independence, and journalist safety. The findings are based on data-driven analysis by UNESCO and Data-Pop Alliance, as well as original research by Economist Impact. The report highlights the importance of understanding journalism as a public good and its role in the wider conceptualization of information as a public good.

Author
UNESCO
2022

Rights in the Digital Age: Challenges and Ways forward

Annotation

"This paper considers the impact of digital transformation on internationally recognised human rights, legal and constitutional rights, and domestically protected interests. It considers specific case studies, and provides a brief overview of international and domestic initiatives to protect ‘rights in the digital age’. Developed in the context of the 2022 Ministerial meeting of the Committee on Digital Economy Policy, this paper sets the scene for further discussion and supports policy makers in designing and achieving a rights-oriented and human-centric digital transformation."

Author
Dafna Dror-Shpoliansky, OECD Secretariat (Audrey Plonk, Lisa Robinson, Gallia Daor and Nora Beauvais)
2023

Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on protecting persons who engage in public participation from manifestly unfounded or abusive court proceedings

Annotation

In May 2023 the Council of the European Union issued this compromise text of a Directive of the European Parliament and Council to protect human rights defenders and journalists who engage in public participation from manifestly unfounded or abusive court proceedings, also known as strategic lawsuits against public participation or SLAPPs. The compromise text was issued based on a lengthy consultative process including input from the SLAPP Working Party and Member States. Overall, Member States support “the aim of the directive to eliminate obstacles to the proper functioning of civil proceedings, while providing protection for the right to freedom of expression and media freedom.” However, they also “stressed that the procedural safeguards provided in the directive should be carefully targeted and in line with the right to an effective remedy and to a fair trial, in order to eliminate the risk of abuses by those the directive aims to protect.” At the same time, the Directive should not prevent legitimate claims from benig heard. The compromise text must be approved by the relevant parties before it can form the “basis for the negotiations with the European Parliament in the framework of the ordinary legislative procedure (Art. 294 TFEU).”

Author
Council of the European Union
2023

Free to Create: Artistic Freedom in Europe

Annotation

"A new report entitled Free to Create: Artistic Freedom in Europe examines the challenges European artists and cultural workers face in the practice of their right to freedom of artistic expression. These range from laws that curtail creative freedom, attacks from non-governmental groups and online threats to the “under-the-radar” pressures that contribute to self-censorship. Artistic freedom is a core human right requiring protection and it has worsened recently under multiple challenges – political extremism, economic collapse, a global pandemic, threats from digitisation, an emerging environmental catastrophe, and the return of war within Europe – all crises with major impacts on human rights across society."

Author
Sara Whyatt
2023

Sustainable Development Goals: On or off track? Assessing the progress through freedom of expression and information

Annotation

Freedom of expression and access to information is an essential human rights right that enables public engagement and participation in decision-making. It is integrated into the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and is incorporated into Goal 16, which aims to promote peaceful societies, justice, and effective institutions. However, the world still has a long way to go to meet the SDGs by 2030, particularly Goal 16, which concerns freedom of expression. This briefing assesses the progress of achieving Goal 16 and its contribution to achieving all SDGs, identifies gaps in international processes, and provides recommendations for the effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The briefing aims to contribute to discussions at the SDGs Summit in September 2023 and help States and the international community determine what must be done to make the most of this stocktaking moment.

Author
Article 19
2022

Countering disinformation for the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms

Annotation

"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."

Author
United Nations General Assembly
2020

Global toolkit for law enforcement agents: freedom of expression, access to Information and safety of journalists

Annotation

Law enforcement agencies face challenges in balancing freedom of expression with maintaining public order. They must manage safety issues, manage elections, natural disasters, and health emergencies while promoting respect for freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. Political, social, and economic factors contribute to these difficult situations. Journalists' freedoms are increasingly threatened, with 1,088 journalists killed in the past 12 years. In 2022, 45 media professionals were killed, prompting governments and law enforcement agencies to address public order issues, work with journalists, and communicate effectively with the public.

"Through the seven modules in this toolkit, officers and trainers can better appreciate how to equitably balance their public safety and order duties while enabling freedom of expression, and its associated freedoms, through better communications, provision of information, supporting the legal process, and enabling journalists to work safely."

Author
Jem Thomas, Anna Averkiou, Terri Judd, Sarah Kelly
2023

Myanmar: Note on Professional Regulation of the Media

Annotation

"The Note provides an overview of the three main approaches to professional regulation – namely self-regulation, co-regulation and statutory regulation – and then delves in more detail into the key features of self- and co-regulation before describing the benefits of these systems and the different roles they can play beyond merely deciding on complaints about professionalism. The final section looks at a number of practice issues regarding the establishment of a self-regulatory system for independent media focusing on Myanmar, the only option given the current situation."

Author
The Centre for Law and Democracy
2023

Launch of HELP Course on Freedom of Expression for Greek judges and prosecutors

Annotation

This Greek version of the HELP Course on Freedom of Expression (in Greek) was launched by the Department for the Execution of Judgments, in cooperation with HELP’s national partner, the Greek National School of Judges. The course discusses European standards on freedom of expression as applied to recent European Court judgments involving Greece finding violations of Article 10. It reviews 2 groups of cases, in particular. The Vasilakis group “concerns violations of the applicants’ freedom of expression due to civil courts’ decisions by which they were ordered to pay damages for defamation, slanderous defamation or insult, through articles published in the press or broadcastings of secretly filmed video-recordings.” The second group, the Katrami group, “concerns violations of the applicants’ freedom of expression due to the criminal convictions imposed on them for insult, defamation or malicious defamation.” Program materials include the online course, a Thematic Fact Sheet on Freedom of Expression (English), and a country fact sheet for Greece (English).

 

Author
Council of Europe
2023

Utilizar O Direito Internacional Para Defender A Liberdade De Expressão Na Era Da Informação: Um Conjunto de Ferramentas para Activistas

Annotation

"Este kit de ferramentas foi criado pelo International Senior Lawyers Project (ISLP) para partilhar estratégias de defesa da liberdade dos meios de comunicação social na era digital com advogados e defensores dos direitos humanos. O Grupo de Trabalho de Direito dos Media do ISLP tem, nos últimos 20 anos, protegido a liberdade de expressão apoiando jornalistas e organizações não governamentais de vigilância que investigam, relatam e litigam assuntos que envolvem o direito à liberdade de expressão. O Grupo de Trabalho de Direito dos Media do ISLP também fornece aconselhamento jurídico relacionado com telecomunicações, liberdade de informação e leis de privacidade. O ISLP acredita que a liberdade de expressão é necessária para um governo transparente, responsável e democrático e é a base de uma sociedade livre. Este kit de ferramentas foi desenvolvido a partir da experiência dos editores em trabalhar com advogados, jornalistas e defensores dos direitos humanos na África Austral e Oriental. O ISLP tem trabalhado com as secções locais do Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) na formação de advogados e defensores dos direitos humanos do Malawi, Moçambique, Zâmbia e Zimbabué sobre a protecção da liberdade de expressão utilizando argumentos do direito internacional. A informação prática fornecida neste kit de ferramentas foi concebida para permitir que os defensores locais utilizem o direito internacional em órgãos regionais para defender a liberdade de expressão e argumentar a favor de uma maior protecção dos direitos humanos na SADC. Este recurso centra-se em argumentos de direito internacional para defender contra acusações criminais de difamação e ciberdifamação apresentadas contra jornalistas e bloguistas."

Author
International Senior Lawyers Project
2023

Using International Law to Defend Free Speech in the Digital Age: A Guide for Human Rights Advocates

Annotation

"This toolkit was created by International Senior Lawyers Project (ISLP) to share strategies for defending media freedoms in the digital age with lawyers and human rights defenders. ISLP’s Media Law Working Group has, for the past 20 years, protected freedom of expression by supporting journalists and watchdog non-governmental organizations that investigate, report on, and litigate matters involving the right to freedom of expression. ISLP’s Media Law Working Group also provides legal advice on telecommunications, freedom of information, and privacy laws. ISLP believes that freedom of expression is necessary for a transparent, accountable, and democratic government and is the foundation of a free society. This toolkit was developed from the publishers’ experience working with lawyers, journalists, and human rights defenders in Southern and Eastern Africa. ISLP has worked with local Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) chapters to train lawyers and human rights defenders from Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, and Zimbabwe on protecting freedom of expression using international law arguments. The practical information provided in this toolkit is designed to enable local advocates to use international law in regional bodies to defend freedom of expression and argue for stronger human rights protections in SADC. This resource focuses on international law arguments to defeat criminal defamation and cyber libel charges brought against journalists and bloggers."

Author
International Senior Lawyers Project
2022

Artistic Freedom: 2022 Global Report, Re|Shaping Policies for Creativity

Author
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
2022

Re|shaping policies for creativity: addressing culture as a global public good

Annotation

Culture and creativity are crucial economic sectors, accounting for 3.1% of GDP and 6.2% of employment. In 2019, exports of cultural goods and services doubled, reaching $389.1 billion. However, the creative economy faces challenges, including the pandemic, which led to over 10 million job losses. Public investment in culture has declined, and creative professions remain unstable and underregulated. Gender equality remains distant, and only 13% of voluntary national reviews acknowledge culture's contribution to sustainable development.

Disparities between developed and developing countries are significant, with developed countries leading the trade of cultural goods and services. The COVID-19 pandemic highlights the need for countries to protect and promote diversity within their territories and beyond. Culture's global public good must be preserved for the benefit of present and future generations.

This report "offers insightful new data that shed light on emerging trends at a global level, as well as puts forward policy recommendations to foster creative ecosystems that contribute to a sustainable world by 2030 and beyond". Also published is a new video on the importance of protecting artists and defending artistic freedom.

Author
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
2022

European Media Freedom Act - Proposal for a Regulation and Recommendation

Annotation

"The proposed Regulation includes safeguards against political interference in editorial decisions and against surveillance. It puts a focus on the independence and stable funding of public service media as well as on the transparency of media ownership and the allocation of state advertising. "

"The key objectives of the legislative initiative would be to: ensure that media companies can operate in the internal market subject to consistent regulatory standards, including as regards media freedom and pluralism, ▪ ensure that EU citizens have access to a wide and varied media offering both offline and online, ▪ safeguard the editorial independence and independent management of the media, which is a precondition of media freedom and of the integrity of the internal market, ▪ foster undistorted competition between media companies by ensuring a transparent and fair allocation of state resources".

 

Author
European Commission
2023

Defending creative voices: artists in emergencies, learning from the safety of journalists

Annotation

This report is the result of in-depth research and the conclusions from 20 interviews with professionals with expertise in media freedom, artistic freedom, and the defense of human rights advocates and artists. It compares the safeguards and procedures in place to defend the legal rights of journalists and artists in urgent situations. The study's overarching objective is to promote collaborations between groups that support the safety of artists and journalists. While highlighting ways in which cooperation could be advantageous to both the advocacy communities focused, respectively, on artistic and media freedom, it suggests concrete action to expand protection for artists' safety in crises, learning from the advanced movement for the protection of journalists. 

Author
Rosario Soraide
2023

Civic Information Handbook

Annotation

The aim of this handbook is to educate civic information providers about coordinated deceptive campaigns and serve as a resource on how to flood the zone with trustworthy civic information.

"This handbook will function as a media literacy tool, giving readers the skills and opportunity to consider who is behind networked information campaigns and how they spread their messages. Its focus is limited to how information spreads on social media, but modern networked information campaigns work across an entire ecosystem of on- and offline tactics. Information campaigns use radio, mail, email, print media, television, and face-to-face communication"

Author
Karen Kornbluh, Adrienne Goldstein
2023

Submission to the United Nations Human Rights Council on the Universal Periodic Review 44th Session Fourth Cycle for the Russian Federation

Annotation

The authors have submitted a Joint UPR Submission that gauges the worsening situation of freedom of expression in Russia, for the 44th Session of the Working Group. The submission examines the persecution of media workers and media outlets; criminalisation of speech and assembly and association; the use of war propaganda and incitement of hatred and violence; the use of internet shutdowns; website blocking; the use of surveillance in violation of Russia’s obligations enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Author
Justice for Journalists Foundation, OVD-Info, Access Now, Article 19
2023

2023 Joint Declaration on Media Freedom and Democracy

Annotation

The Declaration, adopted by the specialized mandates tasked with protecting Freedom of Expression at the UN, OAS, OSCE, and African Commission, was drafted in cooperation with ARTICLE 19 and the Centre for Law and Democracy. The Declaration “outlines the interrelationship and interdependency of media freedom and democratic values, and the critical role of media freedom in enabling and sustaining democratic societies.” In the three sections that follow, the Declaration focuses on the role of states, calling for state actors to protect journalists and media diversity, refrain from press freedom violations, and provide economic support to the media. In its recommendations for online platforms, the Declaration emphasizes human rights standards, transparency, risk mitigation, and fair compensation. Finally, it addresses the media sector and stresses the importance of professional and ethical conduct.

Author
ARTICLE 19, Centre for Law and Democracy, The United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Representative on Freedom of the Media, the Organization of American States (OAS) Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa
2022

Recommendation CM/Rec(2022)16 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on combating hate speech

Annotation

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.

Author
Council of Europe
2022

The Crime of Sedition: At the Crossroads of Reform and Resurgence

Annotation

This report has been supported by the TrialWatch program at the Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute. TrialWatch is an initiative by the Clooney Foundation for Justice which advocates for justice through accountability for human rights abuses around the world. This report looks at the movement to change sedition laws, the reasons for such change and the abuses that continue where changes are attempted. The report is in three parts: a brief overview of the sedition laws at their criticisms faced at different levels; an update on the progress made by the Commonwealth States to reform these laws and lastly, an overview of examples where prosecuted have used sedition laws to stifle dissent, including case studies by TrialWatch's monitoring. 

Author
Adam M. Smith, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, Charline Yim, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, Marryum Kahloon, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
2022

The “misuse” of the judicial system to attack freedom of expression: Trends, Challenges and Responses

Annotation

In this document, Rosario Soraide for UNESCO notes that there has been a gradual trend towards decriminalising defamation, with 160 countries who have not criminalised it. However, The use of criminal defamation offences to restrict online expression has increased worldwide.

Several States have enacted laws to address cybersecurity, "fake news" and hate speech, which have had a chilling effect on freedom of expression and journalists' work. There has also been a rise in abusive practices such as "forum shopping" and SLAPPs, which have increased the vulnerability of journalists, artists, human rights defenders and bloggers. International courts have reaffirmed that speech about public officials is specially protected and must receive a proportional treatment under civil law.

Author
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Rosario Soraide
2020

Right to information and National Security / Derecho a la información y seguridad nacional 

Annotation

ENGLISH  

In this report, the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) systematizes the applicable standards regarding the right to access information and the scope of the exemptions that States can raise "to protect national security". This document identifies several challenges in the implementation of laws that guarantee access to information in the region. The rapporteur held, for example, that "many States in the region have introduced legislation that reinforces secrecy and information classification in matters related to national security, under conditions that are not compatible with Inter-American standards on the right to access information. The report underscores judicial decisions and information about good practices regarding access to information, and acknowledges The Global Principles on National Security and the Right to Information, also known as the Tshwane Principles, as a tool that "offers the right balance to protect national security and guarantee personal freedoms". 

SPANISH 

En este reporte, la Relatoría Especial para la Libertad de Expresión de la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH) presenta de manera sistematizada los principios aplicables respecto a la protección del derecho al acceso a la información y el alcance de las excepciones que los Estados puede plantear "amparados en la preservación de la seguridad nacional". Este documento identifica varios retos relevantes en lo que respecta a la implementación de leyes que garanticen el acceso a la información en la región. La Relatoría sostuvo, por ejemplo, que "diversos Estados de la región han venido incorporando a su ordenamiento jurídico normas que disponen o refuerzan la clasificación y el secreto de información en asuntos vinculados a la seguridad nacional, bajo definiciones o condiciones incompatibles con los estándares interamericanos sobre el derecho de acceso a la información". El informe destaca decisiones judiciales e información sobre buenas prácticas en lo que se refiere al derecho al acceso a la información y acoge los Principios globales sobre seguridad nacional y el derecho a la información, conocidos también como los Principios de Tshwane, como una herramienta que "propone un equilibrio correcto para asegurar la capacidad del Estado de proteger la seguridad y las libertades personales" 

 

Author
pecial Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights / Relatoría Especial para la Libertad de Expresión de la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos
2013

The Global Principles on National Security and the Right to Information (Tshwane Principles)

Annotation

"The Global Principles on National Security and the Right to Information were developed in order to provide guidance to those engaged in drafting, revising, or implementing laws or provisions relating to the state’s authority to withhold information on national security grounds or to punish the disclosure of such information.

They are based on international (including regional) and national law, standards, good practices, and the writings of experts. They address national security—rather than all grounds for withholding information. All other public grounds for restricting access should at least meet these standards. These Principles were drafted by 22 organizations and academic centres (listed in the Annex) in consultation with more than 500 experts from more than 70 countries at 14 meetings held around the world, facilitated by the Open Society Justice Initiative. This process culminated in a meeting in Tshwane, South Africa, which gives them their name."

Author
Open Society Foundations
2021

UNESCO Guide for Amicus Curiae Interventions in Freedom of Expression Cases

Annotation

This guide prepared by Peter Noorlander for UNESCO offers “practical information and guidance to civil society organisations considering intervening in cases before national or international courts as so-called ‘amicus curiae’ or ‘third party intervener’. It is focused on interventions concerning freedom of expression and the safety of journalists." While the focus is on freedom of expression cases, the principles could be applied to human rights cases more broadly. The guide consists of six sections covering the most important aspects of preparing interventions, such as  strategic consideration and technical requirements, recommendations on how to monitor cases and communicate with parties, and examples in the form of case studies.

 

Author
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Peter Noorlander
2023

Pakistan: Amicus Brief Challenging Criminal Defamation

Annotation

"The Centre for Law and Democracy and the Institute for Research, Advocacy and Development have submitted an amicus curiae brief to the Islamabad High Court on behalf of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists.The case involves a constitutional challenge to Pakistan’s criminal defamation provisions, which provide for sanctions of up to two years imprisonment. The main argument is that criminal defamation laws are not justified as necessary restrictions on freedom of expression because civil defamation laws exert less of a chilling effect on speech and provide adequate protection for reputations.

Our brief outlines international standards in this area, showing how criminal defamation and imprisonment for defamation have been addressed by international and regional human rights courts, as well as in authoritative statements by official actors. It also reviews countries which have either repealed their criminal defamation rules or had them struck down by courts. In addition to these arguments against criminal defamation in general, the brief also highlights a number of specific ways in which the Pakistani rules in this area fail to conform to international standards. These include by providing for a defence for statements about officials only where those statements were made in good faith, and limiting the defence of truth to cases where the statements were also “for the public good”."

Author
The Centre for Law and Democracy and the Institute for Research, Advocacy and Development
2023

Hate-Speech Bans Are Consonant with Liberal Principles

Annotation

Modern liberal-democratic nations are divided over whether the right to freedom of expression should extend to hate speech, which abuses, degrades, or promotes violence or discrimination against others based on traits like race, nationality, religion, sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Most liberal democracies outlaw certain forms of public hate speech in order to protect the dignity, equality, and security of the targeted groups. At the same time, the United States rejects this position and holds that public hate speech generally should receive constitutional protection.

This essay argues that bans on public and private hate speech can contradict liberal principles. It focuses on the writings of John Locke, which laid the theoretical foundations of the modern liberal state and addressed the problem of speech that denies the equal status and rights of others. Locke's thought offers a valuable starting point for considering how liberal principles should apply to hate speech.

This essay presents a theory of free expression based on liberal humanism, which argues that free speech is based on respect for human freedom and dignity, but does not entitle one to infringe on the rights of others. It uses this approach to grapple with the problem of hate speech, which may be restricted on the grounds that it violates the most basic right of all: the right to be recognized and treated as a human being and a member of the community. Locke argued that expression that sought to deny freedom and equality to religious minorities should not receive legal protection because it invaded its targets' rights and undermined society's foundations. The essay also responds to two of the leading liberal arguments against hate-speech bans: that they violate individual autonomy and undermine democratic legitimacy.

Author
Steven J. Heyman
2019

Tackling gender inequality through access to information

Annotation

"ARTICLE 19 published a briefing on the role access to information plays in achieving women’s empowerment and tackling gender inequality, providing recommendations for governments and civil society. Access to information is fundamental for women’s empowerment. Access to information enables women to exercise their human rights and overcome gender inequality. Under international human rights law, states are responsible and obligated to promote and protect both gender equality and access to information and to ensure that barriers blocking these rights are eliminated. These obligations are part of states’ commitments under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Goals 16 and 5, respectively. The goals are closely interlinked and are instrumental for the full enjoyment and exercise of a range of human rights – such as freedom of expression – and for the achievement of the SDGs as a whole."

Author
Article 19
2023

Guidelines for regulating digital platforms: a multistakeholder approach to safeguarding freedom of expression and access to information

Annotation

"The focus of the Guidelines on challenges related to freedom of expression and access to information complement the Organization’s work in the areas of education, the sciences, and culture. The aim of the Guidelines is to support the development and implementation of regulatory processes that guarantee freedom of expression and access to information while dealing with content that is illegal and content that risks significant harm to democracy and the enjoyment of human rights. They call for States to apply regulation in a manner consistent with international human rights standards and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights."

Author
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
2022

Guide on Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights

Annotation

"This Guide is part of the series of Case-Law Guides published by the European Court of Human Rights o inform legal practitioners about the fundamental judgments and decisions delivered by the Strasbourg Court. This particular Guide analyses and sums up the case law under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. It covers the period from 1957 to 31 December 2020."

Readers will find key principles in this area and the relevant precedents. The case laws cited have been selected among major judgements. However, it does not include cases concerning Article 10 where an admissibility decision was given as a result of their exclusion from protection by the Convention as per grounds under Article 17 and cases where the Court found no violation of Article 17.

Author
Council of Europe
2023

Whistleblowers and freedom to impart and to receive information

Annotation

In this factsheet, the Council of Europe discusses the judgement of Halet v Luxembourg, where "the European Court of Human rights reiterated that the protection enjoyed by whistle-blowers under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights was based on the need to take account of features that were specific to the existence of a work-based relationship: on the one hand, the duty of loyalty, reserve and discretion inherent in the subordinate relationship entailed by it, and, where appropriate, the obligation to comply with a statutory duty of secrecy; on the other hand, the position of economic vulnerability vis-à-vis the person, public institution or enterprise on which they depended for employment and the risk of suffering retaliation from them. The Court also pointed out that, to date, the concept of “whistle-blower” had not been given an unequivocal legal definition and that it had always refrained from providing an abstract and general definition. Thus, the question of whether an individual who claimed to be a whistle-blower benefited from the protection offered by Article 10 of the Convention called for an assessment which took account of the circumstances of each case and the context in which it occurred. In this connection, the Court decided to apply the review criteria defined by it in the Guja v. Moldova judgment delivered by the Grand Chamber on 12 February 2008 in order to assess whether and, if so, to what extent, an individual who discloses confidential information obtained in the context of an employment relationship could rely on the protection of Article 10 of the Convention. In addition, conscious of the developments which had occurred since the Guja judgment was adopted in 2008, whether in terms of the place now occupied by whistle-blowers in democratic societies and the leading role they are liable to play, the Court considered it appropriate to confirm and consolidate the principles established in its case-law with regard to the protection of whistleblowers, by refining the criteria for their implementation in the light of the current European and international context."

"

Author
European Court of Human Rights
2022

Model Training Materials: Overview of Freedom of Expression under International Law

Annotation

These Model Training Materials have been developed as part of an ongoing project by the Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) to foster the formation of national media lawyers’ networks, supported by UNESCO’s Global Media Defence Fund. They are designed as a resource for professional networks of media lawyers, freedom of expression organisations and other groups which are working to build the capacity of lawyers to defend media freedom and freedom of expression. The materials provide a template for an introductory workshop on the basic principles of freedom of expression under international human rights law. They include, a Background Reading section which can be distributed to participants; a set of exercises which can be done during a workshop or a training; sample discussion questions; and sample agendas for a 1.5 hour or one-half-day workshop based on these training materials.

Author
Center for Law and Democracy
2022

A Guide On Using International Freedom Of Expression Norms In Domestic Courts

Annotation

Executive Summary: This Guide provides an overview of how international law can be used to inform domestic litigation, with a focus on the issue of freedom of expression. After providing a brief overview of the sources of applicable international law norms, it provides an overview of how different jurisdictions give effect to international norms while offering practical tips for deciding how and when to invoke those norms. The Guide then describes the ways international standards can be used as a tool to inform statutory and constitutional interpretation. The Guide concludes that although different legal traditions have adopted varied approaches to incorporating international norms domestically, regardless of how this is done, international standards can play a meaningful role in domestic human rights litigation.

Author
Center for Law and Democracy
2022

Outcomes of the regional and thematic consultations to mark the 10th anniversary of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity

Annotation

This report produced by UNESCO provides an assessment of the achievements and best practices derived from the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity over the last decade, and it offers recommendations to combat emerging challenges going forward. The UN Plan of Action for the Safety of Journalists arose out of a multi-stakeholder process to strengthen “peace, democracy and development worldwide” as part of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The UN Plan seeks to “create a free and safe environment for journalists and media workers online and offline and both in conflict and non-conflict situations.” The report details the results of the consultative process in 2022 which included “five regional and sub-regional consultations (for Africa, South Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Arab States and Europe), two thematic consultations (on the safety of women journalists, on risk management and transparency of digital platforms), and a crosscutting academic consultation [which] brought together governments representatives, civil society organizations, academia, journalists, news organizations, IGOs and tech companies.”

Author
UNESCO
2022

Model Training Materials: Hate Speech, Defamation and National Security

Annotation

These training materials prepared by The Centre for Law and Democracy focus on three commonly applied restrictions on freedom of expression under international human rights law. They are designed as a resource for professional networks of media lawyers and other organisations working to build the capacity of lawyers to defend media freedom. The Materials consist of: 1) a Background Reading document describing core standards for each type of restriction; 2) sample exercises that can be used during training programmes; 3) discussion questions, also for use during trainings; and 4) sample agendas for a one and one-half hour or one-half-day workshop based on the materials.

Author
Center for Law and Democracy
2022

Content governance in times of crisis: how platforms can protect human rights

Annotation

The Declaration jointly developed by Access Now, ARTICLE 19, Mnemonic, the Center for Democracy and Technology, JustPeace Labs, Digital Security Lab Ukraine, Centre for Democracy and Rule of Law (CEDEM), and the Myanmar Internet Project, sets out guidelines to help platforms protect human rights before, during, and after a crisis. The motivation for the Declaration stemmed from an understanding that “[i]n situations of armed conflicts and other crises, people use social media and messaging platforms to document human rights abuses or war crimes, access information, mobilize for action, and crowdsource humanitarian assistance. But governments and other actors leverage these same platforms to spread disinformation and hate speech, incite violence, and attack or surveil activists, journalists, and dissidents.” The partner organizations hope that the Declaration will help “advance consistent and rights-respecting principles for companies to respond appropriately to crises and meet their obligations and responsibilities under international human rights law.”

Author
AccessNow, Marwa Fatafta, Eliska Pirkova
2021

UNESCO Guide for Amicus Curiae Interventions in Freedom of Expression Cases

Annotation

This Guide aims to provide practical information and guidance to civil society organizations considering intervening in cases before national or international courts as so-called 'amicus curiae' or 'third party intervener'. It focused on interventions in cases concerning freedom of expression and the safety of journalists. Still, the information it provides broadly applies to other human rights cases.

This Guide is divided into six parts:

• A discussion of the main strategic considerations that organizations are thinking of intervening in a case should consider. This includes questions on how an intervention fits into a broader campaign, the type of cases to intervene in, and whether to intervene alone or as part of a coalition;

• A section providing case studies, each chosen to illustrate interventions before different types of court and in different scenarios;

• A section discussing practicalities, including how to monitor cases, engage lawyers and communicate with parties in the case;

• A section discussing technical legal requirements before international human rights courts as well as at the national level;

• Some recommended ‘do’s and don’ts’ in writing amicus curiae briefs, discussing what tone to strike and how to remain objective yet firmly set out the Organization's perspective.

• How to follow up on a judgment, including monitoring implementation and engaging in post-judgment advocacy.

Author
UNESCO, Peter Noorlander
2022

To Recovery and Beyond: 2021 UNESCO Report on Public Access to Information (SDG 16.10.2)

Annotation

As the UN custodian agency for Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Indicator 16.10.2, UNESCO continues to report on progress in adopting and implementing Access to Information guarantees worldwide. The Organization also promotes efforts around the issue, including reinforcing the vital relevance of access to information to crisis recovery and attaining the SDGs.

The report highlights these dimensions, presenting key findings from the 2021 UNESCO Survey on Public Access to Information and assessing progress in 102 participating countries and territories. It provides policymakers, civil society, academia, and those interested in SDG issues with different case studies and good practices, focusing on rebuilding communities and public institutions with access to information.

Findings from the survey used in the report suggest that having a specialized ATI oversight institution is fundamental to ensure ATI law implementation and enforcement. This was evident by the higher scores obtained by countries and territories with such a technical institution.

Author
UNESCO
2022

Guidelines for Judicial Actors on Privacy and Data Protection

Annotation

These guidelines seek to provide a general framework for judicial actors to assess matters of privacy and data protection in the face of other rights, such as freedom of expression and the right to privacy. It includes relevant case law from various national, international and regional bodies that may inform judicial actors’ understanding of the matters. It draws a coherent line from privacy rights to data protection rights and the challenges of upholding these rights in the face of new technologies.

The recommendations include, among others:

  • The right to data protection has since been compared to the freedom of expression rights and, as such, any evaluation about it should consider its presence in ongoing trials, debates and documents and also its instrumental nature as an enabler of other related human rights, besides its gradual yet constant evolving presence in human rights documents and statutes.
  • As information and communication technologies intensify the availability of information and its uses, the right to data protection and freedom of expression must more and more be mutually evaluated and considered. In this sense, cases which would be typically analyzed according to freedom of expression standards may also increasingly demand the consideration of the data protection rights potentially (or actually) involved —and vice-versa.
Author
UNESCO, Danilo Doneda
2022

Minding the Data: Protecting Learners’ Privacy and Security

Annotation

The publication looks at early responses from the education sector, drawing a lens on how data privacy has been managed with the growing rate of digitization, which the COVID-19 pandemic has further driven. It serves as a clarion call to the sector not only to pay careful attention to data privacy in education but to take the lead in these developments.

The publication emphasizes the need for a balance between the use of technology in advancing educational transformation and safeguarding privacy and individual rights. It recommends proper rules and protocols for protecting students and teachers not only in national policies but also at the international level. Cooperation and collaborative efforts are also required to support policy learning, knowledge sharing and mutual understanding.

Author
UNESCO
2022

The Chilling: What More Can News Organisations Do to Combat Gendered Online Violence?

Annotation

This publication is an extract from a wider UNESCO-commissioned global study on online violence against women journalists produced by the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ).

It highlights the role of news organizations in preventing online violence against women journalists and providing due protection when these attacks do occur. It also offers action-oriented recommendations to help the news industry respond more effectively to the crisis.

Some of the recommendations proposed for consideration by news organizations as key responders to online violence against women journalists globally include, among others:

  • Recognizing gendered online violence as a workplace safety issue experienced by their journalists (whether staff or freelance). Understand that this applies regardless of whether or not the abuse is directed at the journalist on their news website or a digital service owned by a third party.
  • Ensuring that online violence is understood as "real" and that the psychological injury suffered by women journalists under attack is considered serious.
  • Acknowledging the increased intersectional risks and impacts facing women journalists at the nexus of misogyny, racism, religious bigotry, homophobia, transphobia, and other forms of discrimination requires recognition in editorial guidelines online violence response protocols.
  • Recognizing the correlation (and potential causal link) between online violence and offline attacks and responding accordingly by ensuring that defensive strategies integrate physical safety, digital security, psychosocial support (including access to specialized trauma-aware counselling), editorial responses and legal assistance.
Author
UNESCO, Julie Posetti, Nabeelah Shabbir
2022

The Chilling: Assessing Big Tech's Response to Online Violence Against Women Journalists

Annotation

This report is an extracted chapter of a more comprehensive UNESCO-commissioned global study on online violence against women journalists produced by the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ). It looks into the role played by the big tech companies, mainly social media platforms, as vectors and facilitators of gender-based online violence targeting women journalists.

It assesses the responses of these companies to the problem and makes recommendations for more effective countermeasures, which include, among others:

  • Continuous review of their policies, algorithms and moderation processes to address the evolving nature of gender-based online violence while working closely with women journalists and civil society groups to co-design new solutions.
  • They are developing more sophisticated abuse reporting systems with the capacity for escalation for women journalists under attack (and their employers), recognizing their particular vulnerabilities and the implications for press freedom.

Implementing a coordinated multi-stakeholder approach to protecting women journalists from online violence brings together all platforms, female journalists, civil society, news organizations, governments, and independent experts at national and international levels.

Author
UNESCO, Julie Posetti, Nabeelah Shabbir, Kalina Bontcheva
2022

Practical Guide for Women Journalists on How to Respond to Online Harassment

Annotation

The growth of social media has seen journalists engage in digital public spaces as part of their role, which has provided new opportunities for journalists, including women journalists, such as broader outreach and possibilities to connect with journalists internationally and create specialized outlets. Consequently, these also present several risks. It has led to women journalists sharing, sometimes without realizing it, personal information about themselves, which is used against them. Online abusers browse the internet for information that can be used to intimidate and harass media workers and stop them from doing their job. 

Also, journalists frequently receive death threats, sexual violence, and threats directed at their families and are targeted by disinformation campaigns. Research has shown that these attacks disproportionately affect women journalists.

For this reason, the guide aims to provide some critical steps to help reduce risks faced by women journalists and their sources. It helps to understand what information is acceptable to share, what data is best kept private, and a key to better protection.

The guide also provides measures that can be taken to prosecute perpetrator(s), including:

• Firstly, especially in case of online impersonation and/or doxxing, liaising with sources and contacts to enable them to anticipate further harassment and to protect themselves;

• Secondly, collecting evidence such as testimonies and screenshots of messages and images received or posted online;

• Thirdly, contacting the websites or platforms hosting the pages concerned to ask for the removal of the information and possibly demanding more excellent action in filtering out attacks and deplatforming attackers;

• Then, reporting the attack using the mechanisms set up by the local authorities, and, where appropriate, filing a complaint with the local police, with the assistance of a legal counsel if necessary;

• It is also important to consider the pros and cons of reporting the abuse as a news or feature story to raise the issue on the public agenda.

Author
UNESCO
2022

The Pen and the Camera are not Enemies; Neither are Uniforms

Annotation

This paper by Eduardo Bertoni seeks to provide inputs so that decision-makers and public policymakers can take into account different angles of the current issues on the international agenda, always having the existing international standards as the main line.

It contributes to an ever-increasing, plural and well-informed debate on key issues of yesterday, today and tomorrow.

It highlights situations related to the journalistic coverage of street demonstrations and police action; to the access to the information sought by the press and related to investigations carried out by the security forces; and the response given by security forces to situations of threats or attacks to people who are carrying out their work as journalists, paying particular attention to this conflict from a gender perspective.

The report proposes strategies for reducing confrontations between journalists and security forces, which include, among others:

•   Media outlets and employers should pay attention to safety measures, including providing appropriate training and equipment to journalists when sending them to cover protests. They should also provide the same resources to freelance journalists when using the reports they provide.

•   National authorities should consider appointing an ombudsman responsible for treating cases by the police, other security forces, and the press during these situations. This will ensure the appointment of an official to monitor and help curb police attacks on the press while reporting on protests.

•   The same ombudsman or similar figure should also be authorized to make recommendations for investigation and prosecution of government as well as civilian attacks on the press.

It emphasizes the need for training as one of the best mechanisms for reducing tensions between journalists and security forces.

Author
Eduardo Bertoni, Representative of the Regional Office for South America of the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights (IIHR)
2022

The Geneva Declaration on Targeted Surveillance and Human Rights

Annotation

This Declaration is a collective commitment to human rights in the digital age led by civil society organizations, Access Now and the Government of Catalonia to serve as a helpful advocacy tool for governments, civil society, tech professionals and academics worldwide. It recognizes the role of digital technologies in strengthening democracy and human rights and explicitly condemns the proliferating use of surveillance technologies to target communities engaging in protected activities.

It calls on governments, in coordination with civil society and the private sector, to implement a moratorium on the export, sale, transfer, servicing and use of targeted digital surveillance technologies developed by the private industry. Pending when rigorous human rights safeguards are implemented to regulate such practices.

It recommended some measures to multilateral organizations, governments, and private sector actors to protect democracy and respect human rights in the digital age, which include:

  • Implementing an immediate moratorium on the export, sale, transfer, servicing, and use of targeted digital surveillance technologies until rigorous human rights safeguards are put in place to regulate such practices
  • Recognizing and enforcing the right to remedy and reparation through robust and independent oversight measures for individuals targeted by cyberespionage
  • Developing and encouraging the adoption of robust safeguards and standardized clauses in any contract of purchase and sale of cyber surveillance programs to ensure compliance with human rights standards for any use of these products and services
  • Publicly report any detected misuse of cyber-surveillance products and services resulting in human rights violations to any relevant oversight body, either at the national, regional, or international level.
  • Ensuring that digital transformation works for, not against, democracy and human rights in ways that strengthen opportunities while confronting ongoing challenges, among others.
Author
Access Now
2022

Internet Shutdowns: Trends, Causes, Legal Implications and Impacts on A Range of Human Rights

Annotation

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights submitted the report according to Human Rights Council resolution 47/16 to simplify the “Internet shutdowns” phenomenon. It provides an overview of trends in Internet shutdowns, an analysis of their causes, legal implications, and the impact on human rights. It highlights the roles of companies, the existing efforts in promoting Internet connectivity and providing development aid, and their importance in detecting, preventing and responding to shutdowns. The report also provides recommendations for ending shutdowns and minimizing their impact.

Some of the recommendations include the following:

  • States should refrain from the full range of Internet shutdowns, given their indiscriminate and disproportionate impacts on human rights.
  • Internet service providers and telecommunications companies should carry out adequate human rights due diligence to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for how they address their adverse human rights impacts. This includes Internet shutdowns, particularly by thoroughly assessing the risks of ordered Internet shutdowns when they enter and leave markets.
  • Development agencies, regional organizations and international organizations should consider the risks of Internet shutdowns when designing and implementing cooperation programmes relating to Internet connectivity.
  • Civil society should support increased digital literacy and promote Access to circumvention tools, paying due attention to their safety, accessibility and affordability.
Author
United Nations
2021

Access to Information Laws: A Guarantee of Inclusion and Disability Rights: Issue Brief

Annotation

The realization of access to information (ATI) as an internationally recognized human right for all, including persons with disabilities, has long been acknowledged. However, realizing this right for those with disabilities still poses a challenge.

This report analyses the inclusion of persons with disabilities or lack of provision in Access to Information (ATI) legislations across the globe, based on the existing ATI laws in 132 countries. It also highlights a series of recommendations to advance the rights of persons with disabilities within the scope of the right to information.

This brief is part of UNESCO's role as the custodian agency for SDG Indicator 16.10.2 on Public Access to Information. With a specific focus on disability rights, the brief look into including persons with disabilities or their lack thereof in ATI legislations worldwide. It serves as a reference for the Member States, NGOs, academia, media, and organizations interested in the issues of Access to Information and Persons with Disabilities.

Key highlights include, among others:

  • The importance of access to information (ATI) as an internationally recognized human right for all, including persons with disabilities, has long been acknowledged. However, realising this right for those with disabilities remains a challenge.
  • Of the 132 countries with ATI laws examined for this report, 37 explicitly refer to persons with disabilities and their rights to varying degrees. Effective accessibility criteria are missing from many existing legislative frameworks, or that implementation is hindered by factors such as inadequate awareness and training around the rights of persons with disabilities and insufficient funding.
  • Countries should consider steps towards an inclusive and comprehensive legislative framework containing minimum mandatory accessibility standards that ensure access to information for persons with disabilities without discrimination based on the type of disability, geographical location, financial means, and language capabilities, among other factors.
Author
UNESCO, Lida Ayoubi
2022

Addressing Hate Speech: Educational Responses

Annotation

This paper is part of a collection of discussion papers commissioned and produced by UNESCO and the United Nations Office of the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide (OSAPG). They directly contribute to the United Nations Strategy and Plan of Action and published in the context of the Multistakeholder Forum and Ministerial Conference on Addressing Hate Speech through Education.

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the pertinence of the United Nations Strategy and Plan of Action, generating a wave of hate speech worldwide –further exacerbating intolerance and discrimination towards particular groups and destabilizing societies and political systems. The discussion papers seek to unpack critical issues related to this global challenge and suggest possible responses and recommendations for policymakers, some of which are:

  • Integration of global citizenship education within national teaching curricula to address the root causes of hate speech; and investing in context-relevant targeted educational programmes to prevent violent extremism and racism, antisemitism and other forms of intolerance.
  • Review curricula and teaching materials to ensure they are free of stereotypes and biased language and include diverse perspectives. Teaching materials should emphasize shared values and human rights to foster a sense of unity while embracing diversity.
  • Provides resources and financial support to civil society organizations engaged in addressing and countering hate speech.

Encouraging the development of educational, preventive strategies against hate speech in national hate-speech action plans and guidelines addressed to non-State actors, including civil society and the private sector. Among others.

Author
UNESCO
2022

Online Antisemitism: A Toolkit for Civil Society

Annotation

As efforts to curb the threat antisemitism poses online continue to become a major challenge, the guide seeks to build capacity among civil society to tackle this growing threat.

Considering the range of solutions the digital space offers in tackling this challenge, this practical and action-oriented resource aims to consolidate knowledge and provide a wide range of policy and community avenues for action. The guide provides an overview of the online antisemitism threat landscape, a summary of existing policy responses on an international and national level across a range of European contexts, and a broad set of recommendations for civil society engagement with governments, platforms and wider communities to address this challenge.

The recommendations include: Awareness-raising, educating to address antisemitism, digital citizenship education, building a civil society research toolkit for online antisemitism, security considerations for countering antisemitism online, building alliances and establishing unified civil society responses as well as youth engagement.

Author
UNESCO, B’nai B’rith International, Institute for Strategic Dialogue
2022

After the Pandemic, Building Back a Stronger Media: Inspiring Initiatives in Ensuring Media Viability

Annotation

The problems faced by independent news media, whether online or offline or hybrid, presents a significant threat to society which was made visible, particularly during the pandemic, which highlighted a paradox: While media became more important than ever for citizens as a source of reliable information in an insecure and continuously changing world, newsrooms struggled to pay their bills.

The pandemic brought to crisis point prior trends - for example, between 2009 to 2020, the share of newspapers – key journalism producers – in global advertising spending fell from 23 to 6 per cent. Amidst the gloom of increasing financial pressure, there are learning from the media's creativity and actions in their survival efforts. Journalists, publishers, educators and other media workers have developed and are developing innovative strategies to help strengthen the viability of independent media.

This publication highlights some of these inspiring and educational microstories that include

  • Success in cross-border collaboration for investigative journalism;
  • Revenue-earning fact-checking services that combat disinformation;
  • New business models that leverage audience and advertiser needs;
  • Entrepreneurial education for the next generation of journalists; among others, more.

These enterprise-level steps are essential complements to the need for more significant changes in national policies to save - and stimulate -media development all around the world.

Author
UNESCO, Larry Kilman
2022

Citizenship Education in the Global Digital Age

Annotation

To meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular, SDG 4 (inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all) and SDG 16 (just, peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development), students and educators must be empowered with the knowledge, values, capacities, and dispositions needed to address both the opportunities and the challenges of the digital revolution at a time of mass migration, climate degradation and the unsustainable use of natural resources, increased inequalities, growing global divisions and marked fragility of democratic institutions.

This paper explains the main opportunities, challenges, and risks involved in using digital tools in education for international understanding, cooperation and peace, and education relating to human rights and fundamental freedoms.

In addition, to the importance of forms of education oriented around the capacities required in the digital age, derived from approaches in media and information literacy, digital citizenship and global citizenship education.

 

Author
UNESCO
2022

The Chilling: Global Trends in Online Violence Against Women Journalists

Annotation

The research paper is an output of a more exhaustive UNESCO-commissioned global study on online violence against women journalists, with a full-length study published mid-2021. It aims to promote the discussion and elicit information about effective legislative, organisational and normative initiatives aligned to international standards for freedom of expression and designed to protect women journalists.

The research work for this paper consists of: a global survey of 901 journalists from 125 countries conducted in five languages; long-form interviews with 173 international journalists, editors, and experts in the fields of freedom of expression, human rights law, and digital safety; two big data case studies assessing over 2.5 million posts on Facebook and Twitter directed at two prominent women journalists (Maria Ressa in the Philippines and Carole Cadwalladr in the UK) undertaken to validate the self-reporting of our interviewees and survey respondents with objective data; 15 detailed country case studies5; and a literature review covering hundreds of scholarly and civil society research publications. A team of 24 international researchers from 16 countries contributed to the study.

A unique aspect of the research is its focus on understudied developing countries recognising that online violence against women journalists is a global problem but one with disproportionate offline impacts and complex intersectional challenges that inhibit effective responses.

The discussion paper provides hard facts and a detailed analysis of the following key findings:

  • Online attacks have real-life impacts. 
  • Misogyny intersects with other forms of discrimination. 
  • Gendered online violence intersects with disinformation. 
  • Online attacks against women journalists have political motives. 
  • Social media platforms and news organisations are still struggling to respond effectively. 
Author
UNESCO, Julie Posetti, Nabeelah Shabbir, Diana Maynard, Kalina Bontcheva, Nermine Aboulez
2017

What if We All Governed the Internet? Advancing Multistakeholder Participation in Internet Governance

Annotation

The Study builds upon UNESCO’s Internet Universality framework, which helps to identify how the Internet can help to construct global knowledge societies by calling for decision-making about Internet-related issues to respect four principles summarized by the acronym R.O.A.M., namely: human rights-based; open; accessible to all; and with multistakeholder participation.

The study contributes to advancing the fourth principle. It highlights how

multistakeholder participation in Internet governance can support UNESCO’s work in general and the protection of the R.O.A.M. principles in particular. The initial part of the study consists of a review of literature relevant to the principle of multistakeholder participation in Internet governance and published since the World Summit on the Information Society (W.S.I.S.).

In addition, the study investigates how the principle of multistakeholder participation has been applied in practice in four case studies. The study focuses on multistakeholder participation in Internet Governance and related topics that support Internet Universality. In no specific order, the study's case studies move from Kenya to Brazil, South Korea, and an initiative under the auspices of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF).

Author
UNESCO
2022

Journalism and Whistleblowing: An Important Tool to Protect Human Rights, Fight Corruption, and Strengthen Democracy

Annotation

This paper by Eduardo Bertoni is part of the UNESCO series World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development. It looks at the relationship between journalism and whistleblowers as mutually beneficial and an important tool to protect human rights, fight Corruption, and strengthen Democracy. The paper provides a survey of legal definitions and protections for whistleblowers in jurisdictions around the world. It concludes with good practices and recommendations for improving the protection of whistleblowing by supporting laws, regulations, technologies, and training, among which are:

Promoting and/or strengthening laws and practices that allow for the protection of whistleblower’s identity if they choose; regulations, laws, and practices that will enable journalists to keep confidential their sources of information; technologies that allow whistleblowers to file complaints without revealing their identity; organizations in different parts of the world specialized in giving legal and other support to whistleblowers before or after their statements; journalist training to advise whistleblowers; international standards that oblige States to adopt adequate legislation to advance incentives and avoid negative consequences for disclosures of whistleblowers; legislation that prevents unjustified lawsuits against a whistleblower for their statements and increased dialogue between journalism groups and whistleblowers’ defenders to understand better their roles, responsibilities, and ways to strengthen Democracy and the rule of law.

 

Author
Eduardo Bertoni, Representative of the Regional Office for South America of the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights (IIHR)
2022

Finding the Funds for Journalism to Thrive: Policy Options to Support Media Viability

Annotation

This brief comes as part of the UNESCO series World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development. The brief addresses how policymakers can best respond to the severe financial crisis threatening the supply of independent journalism. It provides a typology of global responses, assesses their pros and cons, and makes 22 actionable recommendations. These recommendations include: Creating multistakeholder national commissions/task forces to investigate the challenges and propose solutions for mobilizing resources; considering giving tax breaks to local independent news outlets, or vouchers for subscriptions, along with subsidies for hiring local news reporters, especially where the viability of local news is under extreme pressure, or where ‘news deserts’ have evolved; providing subsidies for news entities to hire dedicated journalists to report on critical issues – such as climate change; municipal affairs; elections and threats to Democracy; public health; gender and other diversities, and migration among others. It builds on the Windhoek+30 Declaration, which underlines media viability as a core principle of information as a public good.

Author
UNESCO
2020

Guidelines for Prosecutors on Cases of Crimes against Journalists

Annotation

These guidelines aim to enhance the knowledge and capacities of prosecutors by providing insight on the conduct or supervision of investigations and advisory assistance to law enforcement agencies; identifying stages and determination for proceedings in cases of crimes against journalists, and preserving the integrity of evidence; emphasizing the importance of protecting journalistic sources; discussing the protection of victims, witnesses, immunities, and advantages for collaborating witnesses;  examining the issue of mutual legal assistance in criminal matter and extradition; recognizing the specificities of gender-based crimes and other forms of hate crimes on journalists, and analyzing post-conflict jurisdictions and transitional justice issues.

These guidelines aim to provide a deeper understanding of the theoretical frameworks underpinning the right to freedom of expression and the safety of journalists and the additional skills to put this theory into practice.

Author
Sabin Ouellet
2018

Training Manual on Digital Rights and Freedom of Expression Online

Annotation

This training manual highlights some key developments that have taken place or are currently being explored, both at an international and a national level. It is aimed at providing guidance for training purposes and in litigation and can be a helpful resource to anyone interested in media freedom, particularly in Africa.

Author
Media Defence
2019

Training Manual on International and Comparative Media and Freedom of Expression Law

Annotation

The manual on international and comparative media and freedom of expression law consists of a 136-page guide to the international and relative freedom of expression law, introducing topics ranging from defamation to national security restrictions on free speech.

The manual is also helpful as a stand-alone overview guide to standards on media and freedom of expression law.

The manual and training presentations are for lawyers with litigation experience, but not necessarily of media, freedom of expression or human rights law. It covers international and comparative law only supplemented with relevant national law standards for the country in which they are being used

Author
Media Defence
2019

A Taxonomy of Internet Shutdowns: The Technologies Behind Network Interference

Annotation

The paper outlines the various technical mechanisms for implementing a shutdown and the options for mitigating each type. The aim is that technologists and civil society groups working to end shutdowns will find it a valuable technical resource to understand, prepare for, circumvent, and help document deliberate network disruptions.

It is intended to deepen the knowledge of technologists and digital helpdesk practitioners seeking to understand how shutdowns work and mitigate their impact. A glossary is available at the end of the document for a brief explanation of acronyms and technical terms used throughout.

Author
Access Now
2022

SLAPPs against journalists across Europe

Annotation

This report by ARTICLE 19 “provides a Europe-wide overview of lawsuits that are taken to stifle scrutiny and public debate on issues such as corruption, mismanagement of public resources, and human rights violations. Such lawsuits, known as strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs) are taken by powerful individuals in society not necessarily to win cases, but to drag their critics through legal processes that drain them financially and psychologically and ultimately prevent them from exercising their fundamental rights (including freedom of expression or freedom of assembly and association). This report is based on in-depth research on SLAPP litigation against journalists in 11 countries across Europe over the last four years: Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Poland, Slovenia, and the UK. Several trends emerge from the country studies.”

Author
ARTICLE 19
2022

Platform liability trends around the world: From Safe Harbours to Increased Responsibility

Annotation

This piece is a four-part blog series surveying international intermediary liability laws. Most internet users worldwide interact with online intermediaries – including internet service providers (ISPs), search engines, and social media platforms – regularly. These companies play an essential role in enabling access to information and connecting people across the globe and are significant drivers of economic growth and innovation.

As a result, the policies that intermediaries adopt to govern online marketplaces and platforms significantly shape users’ social, economic, and political lives. Such policies have major implications for users’ fundamental rights, including freedom of expression, freedom of association, and the right to privacy.

This increasingly powerful role played by intermediaries in modern society has prompted a host of policy concerns. One key policy challenge is defining online intermediaries’ legal liability for harms caused by content generated or shared by – or activities carried out by – their users or other third parties.

The piece introduced some background information and explored the global shifts in approaches to intermediary liability laws. Part Two unpacked the different approaches to intermediary liability and looked at regulatory "dials and knobs" available to policymakers. Part Three looked at some new developments taking place around the world. Finally, Part Four dived into EFF’s perspective and provided some recommendations for the future of global intermediary liability policy.

Author
Electronic Frontier Foundation
2022

Promoting Gender Equity in the Right of Access to Information

Annotation

The importance of access to information (ATI) as an internationally

 recognized human right has since been acknowledged. However, the realization of this right for women remains a challenge. While the value of information is clear, particularly for women seeking to promote and protect their rights and advance their economic empowerment, the existing legal, structural, and cultural obstacles also serve as impediments. Stakeholders must use the international mechanisms to engage the issues vigorously, and also national laws and policies must be developed and reviewed through a gendered lens to support women in overcoming the challenges faced in exercising their right to information,

This brief comes as part of UNESCO’s work as the custodian agency for SDG Indicator 16.10.2 on Public Access to Information. With a specific focus on gender parity, the brief look into international and national mechanisms to help overcome the obstacles that women face in exercising their right to information. Some of the recommendations include: To promote gender-sensitive Right to Information (RTI) laws; ensuring ATI practices are gender-sensitive; developing a comprehensive strategy, plan of action and accompanying dedicated budget to ensure that RTI is equitable, including engaging with the ministries responsible for women’s rights/gender/family/youth, other ministerial gender units and Human Rights bodies/ Ombudspersons and encouraging Open Government Partnership Commitments to include national and sub-national actions to advance an equitable right of access to information for all women.

Author
Laura Neuman
2022

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and its Potential to Foster Freedom of Expression, Access to information and Safety of journalists: Guidelines for National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs)

Annotation

The guidelines are designed explicitly for NHRIs to maximize the use of the UPR at the country level. They provide practical examples for engaging with the UPR before, during and after the review.

It is aimed to secure the active participation of as many parties as possible, and NHRIs are critical participants in this process due to their specialized role in upholding international human rights at the national level.

Hina Jilani, one of the founders of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and the first Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Human Rights Defender, drafted National Human Rights Institutions guidelines. The guidelines were developed from inputs from National Human Rights Institutions worldwide and finalized in consultation with the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI).

Some of the recommendations include: Keeping parliaments informed of UPR recommendations on improving freedom of expression; drawing attention to restrictions to media freedom online and offline; highlighting recommended legal protections, including for the Safety of women journalists, that may be missing in existing legal frameworks; underline the central characteristic of freedom of expression and access to information as enablers of other rights; among others.

Author
UNESCO
2022

Equally Safe: Towards a Feminist Approach to the Safety of Journalists

Annotation

The new research, case studies from 6 countries, practical guidelines, and advocacy tools will help civil society, journalists, researchers, and policymakers to apply an intersectional feminist approach in their work.

Author
ARTICLE 19
2021

Informing the Disinfo Debate: A Policy Guide for Protecting Human Rights

Annotation

This joint report is a continuation of its 2018 predecessor, Informing the “Disinformation” Debate. The 2018 report is among the first civil society organisations to point to platforms’ problematic business models as a fundamental factor in online manipulating people’s economic and political choices. This current report unpacks the main manipulation methods that media engage in that harm fundamental rights. These methods stem directly from the platforms' business models and severely impact the absolute freedom to form an opinion and freedom of thought, including the surveillance-based advertisement, political advertising, amplification of disinformation online via content recommender systems and personalisation of news content.

Previous works informed the analysis of data protection, privacy, freedom of expression and opinion, and freedom of access to information. The primary outcome of this report is a set of policy recommendations addressed to the EU co-legislators focusing on: how to effectively mitigate fundamental rights risks that result from the manipulative methods deployed by large online platforms that exploit people’s vulnerabilities and their sensitive data; and how to combat disinformation in a manner that is fully compliant with fundamental rights standards; phasing out advertising that is based on tracking and targeting based on personal data, including inferred data; mandating accountability for platforms’ delivery algorithms to help ensure proper oversight; ensuring a strong enforcement of the General Data Protection Regulation and the adoption of a strengthened ePrivacy Regulation to eliminate intrusive targeting techniques and limit the spread of disinformation; establishing minimum safeguards for users’ default settings to require an “opt-in” to personalised content recommendations systems rather than the current default “opt-out” in the ongoing discussion on vital digital policies (DSA, DMA, ePrivacy Regulation) among others.

Author
Eliška Pírková, Filip Lukáš, Eva Simon, Franziska Otto, Diego Naranjo
2021

Digital freedom: Building an Internet Infrastructure that Protects Human Right

Annotation

This report examines the outcomes of a three-year pilot project to strengthen human rights due diligence and corporate responsibility among a critical subset of Internet infrastructure providers: registries and registrars.

The pilot project carried out in partnership with three Internet registries and registrars – Stichting Internet Domeinregistratie Nederland (SIDN), Blacknight, and Public Interest Registry (PIR) – was designed to produce a publicly-available model for assessing the particular human rights impacts and risks of Internet infrastructure providers, apply the tool to develop recommendations for each partner company, and educate staff of each partner company on the human rights framework and human rights due diligence.

The project outcome report presents observations, conclusions, and recommendations.

The outcomes of this project, i.e. the report and the human rights assessment tool, are intended to serve as essential resources for Internet infrastructure providers to meet their responsibility to respect human rights, as well as for civil society and academic stakeholders that are working toward the widespread adoption of human rights due diligence across the sector.

Author
ARTICLE 19 and the Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR)