Freedom of Expression and Information in the Time of Globalization: Foundational Course

Agnès Callamard, ColumbiaX

This course examines the norms, institutions and forces that altogether have founded a global system of protection for freedom of expression and information.

In 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was promulgated, defining freedom of expression as the right “to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” The technology revolution of the last two decades has given the world the means to realize this commitment. Technology has shaped, reshaped, and radically transformed the production and distribution of information, profoundly impacting whole societies and greatly influencing, if not defining, information and communication. However, as the course will demonstrate, the foundation of a global protection of freedom of protection and information largely predates the IT revolution of the last decade.  This course will present and analyse the global norms that have emerged over time to enshrine the protection of freedom of expression and information, across and above national and regional differences.

The course is comprised of recorded lectures. Dr. Agnes Callamard, the Director of Columbia Global Freedom of Expression and the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, who led the human rights investigation into the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, will deliver the lectures. Supplementary lectures by international experts will provide additional information on topics addressed by the main lectures or additional issues which could not be included in the core course.  Students will be actively invited to consult the supplementary videos to strengthen their knowledge. Weekly readings will be assigned from classic philosophical works on the concept of freedom of expression, key texts of international human rights law, significant decisions of international and national courts, as well as relevant news stories and video clips.  The course will provide access to case analyses from Columbia University's Global Case Law Database to illustrate the issues as well as for course assignments.  Most readings will be freely available on the Internet.

This Foundational Course is to be followed by an Advanced Course which will focus on the complex, and often awkward, interplay of global information flows with national jurisdiction and state sovereignty, and what it means for the realization of a borderless vision for the right to freedom of expression.

What will you learn

  • The principles and values behind the protection of freedom of expression and information
  • The international standards and legal tests governing freedom of expression and how courts around the world have implemented them
  • The extent and limits to freedom of expression, particularly as applied to political speech, the media, and information held by governments.

  • 9 September 2019
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  • Language: English Gb


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