Within the field of human rights, non-governmental organisations play a crucial role in adding substance to the broad standards found in international law. Building upon established jurisprudence, statements made by organisations such as CLD can play a positive role in the progressive development of international human rights standards. By providing clear statements on how the law should evolve, CLD seeks to serve as a catalyst for positive change.
On May 2nd 2018, the four specialised mandates tasked with promoting and protecting freedom of expression at the UN, OAS, OSCE and African Commission launched their 20th annual statement, the Joint Declaration on Media Independence and Diversity in the Digital Age. The Joint Declaration, which was drafted with the assistance of the Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD), addresses modern threats to media independence and diversity, focusing separately on legal, political, technological and economic threats.
The CLD was heavily involved in the drafting of the Commonwealth Principles on Freedom of Expression and Good Governance. Quoting the document “The Principles are intended to served as a set of guidelines to assist member states and their agencies as well as Commonwealth legislatures and judiciaries, civil society and media, to make appropriate contributions to promoting and developing democratic, accountable and open societies, in accordance with Commonwealth values, international norms and standards, and the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.”
A regional workshop on the right to information held in Beirut from 8-9 June 2017, bringing together participants from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and Yemen, and hosted by Social Media Exchange, the Centre for Law and Democracy and International Media Support, has agreed to create a regional network of right to information activists. This commitment was contained in a Workshop Statement adopted by participant.
On March 3rd 2017 in Vienna, the four specialised mandates tasked with promoting and protecting freedom of expression at the UN, OAS, OSCE and African Commission launched their 19th annual statement, the Joint Declaration on Freedom of Expression and “Fake News”, Disinformation and Propaganda. The Joint Declaration, which was drafted with the assistance of the Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD), addresses the difficult issue of how best to respond to the growing threat of disinformation, whether coming from governments, officials, the legacy media or social media.
The four specialised mandates tasked with promoting and protecting freedom of expression at the UN, OAS, OSCE and African Commission launched their 18th annual statement, the Joint Declaration on Freedom of Expression and Countering Violent Extremism. The Declaration was prepared with the assistance of the Centre for Law and Democracy and ARTICLE 19, and is available in English, French, and Arabic.
An open public consultation aimed at gathering views from key stakeholders on the establishment of a Special Mechanism for Media Freedom in the Arab World was launched today. The consultation is part of a regional initiative to improve the performance and the commitment of Arab States to media freedom. It responds to rising concerns in the region, where the temptation to revert to authoritarian practices is strong and where media face greater risks than ever before.
Led by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the initiative was launched in Casablanca in October 2014, at its regional meeting held in cooperation with the Federation of the Arab Journalists (FAJ). Two key documents help define the initiative: the Technical Proposal which examines options in terms of the mandate, structure and financing of the proposed special mechanism (1), and a draft Declaration on Media Freedom in the Arab World (2). A series of national meetings in recent months, bringing together key international experts, journalists’ leaders, media freedom defenders and representatives of national human rights commissions from across the Arab World, has allowed for the development and honing of the key documents.
The 2015 International Partnership Mission to Indonesia (IPMI) has released its Observations and Recommendations, including a detailed list of suggested measures to protect freedom of expression in the country. The Observations and Recommendations focus on challenges faced by local and foreign journalists, legal and regulatory threats to freedom of expression, and Indonesia’s continuing climate of impunity for attacks against journalists and media workers.
Arab and international human rights and media experts world have adopted a Statement setting out a number of clear standards regarding the regulation of journalism. These include that it is not for governments to decide who is and who is not a journalist and that journalists have the right to choose freely which unions, associations and/or syndicates they wish to belong to and that they should not be required – by either the law or their employers – to belong to any particular syndicate. The Statement was developed and adopted at a regional meeting of human rights and media experts held in Tunis from 6-7 March 2015 which was organised by the Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) working with partners the Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), International Media Support (IMS) and Vigilance.
The four specialised mandates tasked with promoting and protecting freedom of expression at the UN, OAS, OSCE and African Commission released their annual Joint Declaration focusing on States’ responses to conflict situations giving rise to systematic attacks on freedom of expression, including through terrorist attacks and widespread organised crime. The Declaration was prepared with the assistance of the Centre for Law and Democracy and ARTICLE 19, and is available in English, French, and Arabic.
The Human Rights Working Group of the International Council on Archives has prepared a set of draft Basic Principles on the Role of Archivists in Support of Human Rights. The draft Principles highlight the role Archivists can play in supporting human rights, as well as the conditions needed to allow them to do this. The Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) has prepared a Note on the draft Principles with a view to making the final product as robust as possible.
The 17th annual Joint Declaration by the four specialised mandates tasked with promoting and protecting freedom of expression at the UN, OAS, OSCE and African Commission was prepared with the assistance of the Centre for Law and Democracy and ARTICLE 19. It highlights issues relating to the universality of the right to freedom of expression. The Declaration is available in English, Arabic, French, Russian Spanish.
In a Joint Declaration the UN, OAS, OSCE and African Commission, focused on the importance of diversity of opinion in the upcoming changes to media coverage in the world, in a statement prepared in part by the Centre for Law and Democracy. Without diversity of opinion it becomes more difficult to achieve true freedom of expression. The Joint Declaration highlights a number of important aspects States should take to promote and protect freedom of expression, including an open and consultative decision making process and a lack of political or commercial interference in regulatory bodies. The Declaration is also available in Spanish, French and Arabic.
Cognisant of its critical role in the promotion and protection of all fundamental rights, crimes against freedom of expression are particularly serious and should be unequivocally condemned and prohibited by State officials. In order to assist stakeholders in fulfilling their obligations, the Centre for Law and Democracy was pleased to provide support and expertise in drafting the 12th Joint Declaration by the four special international mandates tasked with promoting and protecting freedom of expression – the UN, OAS, OSCE and ACHPR. CLD hopes that this Joint Declaration, which raises awareness of crimes against freedom of expression, will encourage states to take concrete measures to promote and protect this fundamental right. The Declaration is also available in Arabic, French, Russian, and Spanish.
CLD published a comparative report on international and comparative constitutional guarantees of the right to information. The report, Entrenching RTI: An Analysis of Constitutional Protections of the Right to Information, is part of CLD’s ongoing work to support right to information reform in Egypt. At the same time, the standards outlined in the report are relevant to any country undergoing constitutional reform in this area. The report outlines in some detail international standards recognising as a human right the right to access information held by public authorities, as well as the specific standards for this right which have been developed in international law. It also describes the main features found in most constitutional guarantees of the right to information, along with some of the more cutting edge features found in some recent constitutions.
The report is also available in Arabic.
This guide was published by the Transparency and Accountability Initiative with the aim of helping governments that are participating in the Open Government Partnership to understand international best practice for promoting transparency and accountability. Chapter 14, on the Right to Information, was authored by CLD and Access Info Europe.
The popularization of the internet has revolutionized the concept of free expression by providing unprecedented opportunities for the communication of ideas. In order to assist legislators, judges, and civil society groups in adapting to this new reality, the Centre for Law and Democracy was pleased to provide support and expertise towards the drafting of the 11th Joint Declaration by the four specialized mandates of the UN, OAS, OSCE and African Commission tasking with promoting and protecting freedom of expression. CLD hopes that this Joint Declaration, which recognizes access to the internet as a right, will encourage states to take concrete measures to promote and protect universal access to the internet. The Declaration is also available in Arabic, Russian, and Spanish.
3 May is World Press Freedom Day, declared as such by UNESCO following its 3 May of 1991 in Windhoek, Namibia. Every year, on 3 May UNESCO hosts a major international conference in a different part of the world, and with a different theme. The theme for WPFD this year as Freedom of Information, the Right to Know. CLD was asked to participated in the working group which prepared the Declaration.
On an annual basis since 1999, the (now) four special international mandates on 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 – have adopted a Joint Declaration on a different freedom of expression theme. The Executive Director of CLD, Toby Mendel, has provided expertise and support to them in the preparation of all of these Joint Declarations, including the 10th one, adopted in early 2010. This 10th Declaration looks forward to the ten key threats to freedom of expression over the upcoming decade.