Freedom of Expression

Press Release R83/23

"Free, pluralistic and independent media is a vital pillar of democracy," stress International Freedom of Expression Rapporteurs


BANJUL/GENEVA/VIENNA/WASHINGTON D.C./NEW YORK CITY (2 MAY 2023) – Commemorating the 30th anniversary of World Press Freedom Day and the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, freedom of expression mandate holders* from the United Nations (UN), the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the African Commission of Human Rights (ACHPR), and the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR) issued a Joint Declaration on Media Freedom and Democracy.

"We are alarmed that in many countries around the world laws to protect media freedom are being eroded, physical and online attacks against journalists persist with impunity and the use of courts and the legal system to harass journalists and media outlets is on the rise.

Deeply disturbing trends of authoritarianism, co-optation of public power, erosion of judicial independence, and backsliding on human rights in many established and emerging democracies creates an urgency and imperative for States to reaffirm and renew their commitment to protect and promote independent, free and pluralist media as a vital pillar of democracy and an enabler of sustainable development. 

Independent, free and pluralistic media play a critical role in providing reliable news and information, enabling robust public debate, and contributing to building well-informed and active citizenry. As watchdogs, the media critically scrutinise those in power, investigate and report on matters of public interest, and by doing so, contribute to strengthening democratic processes and institutions," stressed the freedom of expression rapporteurs.

The 2023 Joint Declaration on Media Freedom and Democracy highlights the conditions that independent, pluralistic, and quality media need to thrive. It outlines the role of the media in enabling and sustaining democratic societies and identifies the elements for an enabling environment for media freedom and sets out clear, succinct recommendations to States, online platforms, and the media sector.

"Both States and private companies have obligations and responsibilities to address the growing threats to media freedom and the safety of journalists, and to urgently reverse the decline in public trust in democratic institutions," emphasized the freedom of expression rapporteurs.

The 2023 Joint Declaration on Media Freedom and Democracy can be found here: LINK.

*The freedom of expression mandate holders: Irene Khan, UN Special Rapporteur on the Protection and Promotion of Freedom of Opinion and Expression; Teresa Ribeiro, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media; Ourveena Geereesha Topsy-Sonoo, ACHPR Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information;  Pedro Vaca Villarreal, OAS Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression.