UNESCO supports Columbia Freedom of Expression’s online conference

UNESCO supports and invites participants to register for Columbia Global Freedom of Expression’s high-level online conference on “Courts and Global Norms on Freedom of Expression”, on 21 October 2021.
The event will feature two panel discussions, offering a platform for prominent judges from High, Constitutional and Regional Human Rights Courts to exchange their views on the application of global norms on freedom of expression.

Professor Lee C. Bollinger, President of Columbia University, and one of the foremost First Amendment scholars will open the discussion. The first session will focus on the application of international legal standards and comparative law practices in deciding upon freedom of expression cases. It will notably address the crucial role of Courts in defining the scope of the exercise of this right, as well as in imposing limits to political power when it threatens this freedom. The second panel will address the challenges for judicial protection of freedom of expression in the digital sphere, notably with the advent of global platforms and the consequent discussion about the application of global standards regarding the reach and content of freedom of expression in the digital age.

This dialogue will be informed by prominent judges from High, Constitutional and Regional Human Rights Courts, including from the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, with whom UNESCO signed Memoranda of Understanding respectively in August 2018 and October 2019. These agreements have served to strengthen the regional human rights framework through capacity-building and knowledge sharing initiatives with members of the judiciary in Latin America and Africa on freedom of expression and safety of journalists’ related issues

Indeed, since 2013, UNESCO’s Judges’ Initiative has raised the capacities of judicial actors on international and regional standards on freedom of expression, access to information and the safety of journalists in regions across the world. Over 23,000 judicial actors, including judges, prosecutors, and lawyers, have been trained on these issues, notably through a series of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), on-the-ground trainings and workshops, and the publication of a number of toolkits and guidelines. In this framework, UNESCO has been cooperating with Columbia Global Freedom of Expression for the development of their online database of case law and international and regional standards, providing a global perspective on jurisprudence related to freedom of expression to judicial actors around the world.

Professor Catalina Botero Marino, Former Special Rapporteur for Freedom Expression (OAS), will be delivering the closing remarks of the conference. She notably co-authored UNESCO’s Latin American Toolkit for Judicial Actors, and contributed to UNESCO’s Global Toolkit for Judicial Actors on International Legal Standards on Freedom of Expression, Access to Information and Safety of Journalists.

The event will offer participants a unique opportunity to listen to prominent experts on freedom of expression, who will engage in an interactive dialogue and exchange of experiences and best practices on the application of global norms when deciding upon freedom of expression related cases, including in the digital age.