Freedom of expression is a basic human right that forms the cornerstone of democratic societies around the world. It encompasses the freedom to express one’s thoughts, opinions, ideas and beliefs without fear of censorship or retribution.
This freedom is enshrined in various international human rights instruments, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and is considered a fundamental pillar of democracy. To achieve gender equality, there must be freedom of expression, and the two are mutually necessary.
Freedom of expression allows us to challenge authority and is fundamental to political dissent, diverse cultural expression, creativity, and innovation, as well as the development of one’s personality through self-expression.
It enables dialogue, builds understanding, and increases public knowledge. When we can freely exchange ideas and information, we develop our knowledge improves, which benefits our communities and society at large.
- Freedom of expression as a fundamental human right
- Healthcare, education for our kids, decent work, and fair wages
- Freedom to practice the faith of our choice, to choose our own partners and spouses
- Being able to openly support those who suffer
- Equal treatment for rich and poor before the law
Who protects our right to freedom of expression?
Freedom of expression is protected under international law (Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights).
This means that nearly every State in the world is obliged to protect the right to freedom of expression.
‘Politicians and public officials must create an enabling environment for freedom of expression, not diminish it.’
But freedom of expression is so fundamental that each and every one of us – from civil society to journalists, educators, writers, artists, lawyers, and activists –all have the obligation to protect this right wherever we are.
Parasto Yari, Chief Human Rights Officer / Pro Bono Lawyer