CFI, IHEU Deliver Joint Statement on Freedom of Expression at UN Human Rights Council

July 9, 2012

The Center for Inquiry (CFI) and International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) last week issued a joint statement at the 20th annual session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva that addressed the importance of protecting the right to freedom of expression on the Internet.

Our statement, read by representative Roy W. Brown, highlighted several recent cases of attacks on journalists and bloggers in Islamic states. You can watch Brown deliver the statement here.

Later in the session, which took place June 18 to July 6, the Council unanimously approved a resolution (A/HRC/20/L.13) that reflected the sentiments contained in our statement.

The resolution reads, in part:

Affirms that the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, in particular freedom of expression, which is applicable regardless of frontiers and through any media of one’s choice, in accordance with articles 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;

Article 19 of the Universal Declaration states that “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” Article 19 of the ICCPR includes similar language.

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton applauded the passage of A/HRC/20/L.13, stating that: 

The free flow of news and information is under threat in countries around the world. We are witnessing an alarming surge in the number of cases involving government censorship and persecution of individuals for their actions online – sometimes for just a single tweet or text message.

This resolution is a welcome addition in the fight for the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms online, in particular the freedom of expression, as well as the freedoms of religion or belief, assembly and association, and the right to be free of arbitrary interference with privacy.

CFI once again enjoyed the opportunity to collaborate with the IHEU. We will continue to fight side by side against attempts to restrict basic human rights guaranteed by international treaties whenever possible. 

You can read more about the 20th annual session here.