New project: ‘Strengthening the role of legal actors in the defence of the right to freedom of expression’

Published 20 March 2020

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The universal human right to freedom of expression and the relevance of the rule of law are formal UN Sustainable Development Goals. Yet, in the past 10 years there has been a steep growth in attacks on freedom of expression in general, and on journalists in particular.

The project ‘Strengthening the role of legal actors in the defence of the right to freedom of expression’, funded by The Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, aims to strengthen the defence of the crucial right to freedom of expression and to set forth how legal actors can help in defending freedom of expression and prosecuting perpetrators. The award enables the Asser Institute, in cooperation with UNESCO and Free Press Unlimited, to organise a Forum of Legal Actors in 2020, 2021 and 2022. Asser Senior Researcher Dr Ulad Belavusau will coordinate the project.

In October 2020, the world’s first Forum of Legal Actors will be organised in the margins of the World Press Freedom Conference 2020. The Forum will bring together a group of 30 experts working in the criminal justice field, such as judges, prosecutors and lawyers, as well as academics. The aim is to share views on the role of law regarding the growing challenges facing freedom of expression. It will focus on defamation and the overreach of national security, including counterterrorism. The findings of the Forum will be reported back at the World Press Freedom Conference’s Plenary. The Conference, which would take place in April, has been postponed to October this year. More information will be provided on the Asser website in due course.

Further reading
Dr Belavusau is the author of a monograph “Freedom of Speech: Importing European and US Constitutional Models in Transitional Democracies” (Routledge, 2013), as well as a co-editor of two books: “Law and Memory: Towards Legal Governance of History" (Cambridge University Press, 2017) and "EU Anti-Discrimination Law beyond Gender" (Oxford: Hart, 2018).

Dr Ulad Belavusau is a senior researcher within the Asser research strand Human Dignity and Human Security in International and European Law. This research strand adopts a human rights approach to global challenges, inter alia in the fields of counter-terrorism, international and transnational crimes, new technologies and artificial intelligence, and historical memory. It examines what it means to safeguard human dignity - also in relation to human security - in these areas.