Quote of the day

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought and expression. This right includes freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing, in print, in the form of art, or through any other medium of one's choice

Article 13 of the American Convention of Human Rights

Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression


The United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on 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,

Having discussed these issues together with the assistance of ARTICLE 19, Global Campaign for Free Expression, and the Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD);

Recalling and reaffirming our Joint Declarations of 26 November 1999, 30 November 2000, 20 November 2001, 10 December 2002, 18 December 2003, 6 December 2004, 21 December 2005, 19 December 2006, 12 December 2007, 10 December 2008, 15 May 2009, 3 February 2010, 1 June 2011, 25 June 2012, 4 May 2013, 6 May 2014, 4 May 2015, 4 May 2016, 3 March 2017 and 2 May 2018;

Noting that, for twenty years, we, the inter-governmental mandates for freedom of expression and media freedom, have issued Joint Declarations with the aim of interpreting human rights guarantees for freedom of expression, thereby providing guidance to governments, civil society organisations, legal professionals, journalists and media outlets, academics and the business sector;

Stressing that the Joint Declarations have contributed to the establishment of authoritative standards which address a wide range of issues and challenges, and also underline the importance of freedom of expression to democracy, sustainable development, the protection of all other rights, and efforts to counter terrorism, propaganda and incitement to violence;

Alarmed by the ongoing violence against and prosecution of journalists, right to information activists, human rights defenders and others for exercising their right to freedom of expression, as well as the fact that impunity for killings and attacks prevails;

Welcoming the significant contributions that digital technologies have made to expanding global communications and the possibility for people everywhere to access information and ideas and to speak and be heard, while noting the continuing imperative of providing universal and affordable access to the Internet;

Acknowledging the need to address, within the framework of international human rights law, serious problems that arise in the context of digital technologies, including disinformation; incitement to hatred, discrimination and violence; terrorist recruitment and propaganda; arbitrary and unlawful surveillance; interference with the use of encryption and anonymity technologies; and the power of online intermediaries

Expressing concern about the ongoing and deepening threats to media diversity and independence as a result, among other things, of a significant reduction in advertising revenues for legacy media, undermining news production and especially local and investigative journalism; increased concentration of media ownership; political control over and insufficient financial allocations to public service media; a failure to develop community broadcasting sufficiently ; and ongoing attempts to exert control over the private media, including through regulation;

Denouncing the continued prevalence of undue legal restrictions on online expression and their abusive application, and stressing the importance of States respecting the obligations set out in Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights when imposing restrictions on freedom of expression, which include ensuring that any restriction is necessary and proportionate, and the availability of independent judicial oversight over the application of these restrictions;

Deploring arbitrary disruptions and shutdowns to restrict access to telecommunications networks and the Internet;

Highlighting the importance of the right to access information held by public authorities, as reflected in the Sustainable Development Goals Target 16.10;

Observing that private companies have responsibilities to respect human rights and remedy violations, and that addressing the challenges outlined above requires multi-stakeholder support and the active engagement of State actors, media outlets, intermediaries, civil society and the general public;

Adopt, in London, on 10 July 2019, the following Twentieth Anniversary Joint Declaration: Challenges to Freedom of Expression in the Next Decade:

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Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
1889 F St. NW 
Washington D.C. 20006 

Telephone: +1 202 370 0816 

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