Freedom of expression

Freedom of expression

“When the rights of human rights defenders are violated, all of our rights are put in jeopardy – and all of us are made less safe.” – Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.


Article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, combined with Article 19’s Freedom of Expression, together ensure the right to gather publicly or privately and collectively express, promote, pursue and defend common interests.


Every day, in every part of the world, civil society contributes to the promotion, protection and advancement of human rights. This is one of the reasons why the UDHR holds the world record for the number of translations, many of which have been arranged or carried out by civil society rather than by governments.


“If we do not believe in Freedom of Expression for people we despise, we do not believe in it at all,” says linguist and political activist Noam Chomsky.


Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has the right to freedom Of opinion and expression; freedom to hold opinions without interference, to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media.


Unfortunately, many uses this right to justify the use of inflammatory hate speech, which puts in danger the right to life of targeted groups.


Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, states:

“Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.”


States should protect the right to freedom of opinion and expression in their national laws and procedures in accordance with international laws.