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5 free courses on Freedom of Expression

Learn how our right to freedom of expression is protected by International human rights law and under which circumstances it can be limited.  

The Right to Freedom of Expression is enshrined in Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It is protected by international human rights courts like the European Court of Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and several NGOs like Article 19 and Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) are entirely dedicated to the promotion and protecting of Freedom of Expression. The UN has established a special rapporteur to monitor the right to freedom of expression and the OSCE maintains a position of the Representative of Freedom of Media, who monitors and rapidly responds to violations and threats to Freedom of Expression.

Freedom of Expression encompasses all kinds of expression including writing, singing, dancing, speaking and other forms of artistic expression. This fundamental human right can only be restricted under very specific circumstances for example to counter advocacy of hatred against a certain group of people. We have created a collected a list of free online courses where you can learn more about the protection of Freedom of Expression around the world.

Freedom of Expression and Information in the Time of Globalization: Foundational Course (Columbia University in The City of New York)

Freedom of Expression and Information in the Time of Globalization: Foundational Course is the first of two courses provided by Columbia University that focuses on freedom of expression and information. Advances in technology over the last twenty years have provided a means to realise the commitment to Freedom of Expression and Information, and yet the foundations for Freedom of Expression and Information were laid well before the IT revolution.

This course introduces the right to Freedom of Expression and Information, the principles and values behind the protection of freedom of expression and information. It introduces the international standards and legal tests governing freedom of expression and how courts around the world have implemented them. It also explores the extent and limits to freedom of expression, particularly as applied to political speech, the media, and information held by governments.

The course is comprised of recorded lectures by Dr. Agnes Callamard, the Director of Columbia Global Freedom of Expression and the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions and is supplemented by additional lectures from international experts providing additional information on topics and additional issues that could not be addressed by the main lectures. In addition, students will have access to case analyses case analyses from Columbia University’s Global Case Law Database to illustrate the issues as well as for course assignments.

Register here

Freedom of Expression and Information in the Time of Globalization: Advanced Course (Columbia University in The City of New York)

Following on from the foundation laid by Freedom of Expression and Information in the Time of Globalization: Foundational Course, the Advanced Course focuses on the complex challenges brought about by technological advances and the complex, and often awkward, interplay of global information flows with national jurisdiction and state sovereignty.

On this course, you will learn about the impact of the Information technology revolution on the exercise of, and the global standards related to, freedom of expression and information. The course will also introduce the most recent legal and policy developments in response to challenges to freedom of expression and information, including those related to security, religion and technology.

This course, like its predecessor, Freedom of Expression and Information in the Time of Globalization: Foundational Course, is comprised of recorded lectures by Dr. Agnes Callamard, the Director of Columbia Global Freedom of Expression and the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions and is supplemented by additional lectures from international experts providing additional information on topics and additional issues that could not be addressed by the main lectures. In addition, students will have access to case analyses from Columbia University’s Global Case Law Database to illustrate the issues as well as for course assignments.

Register here

Media Freedom and Freedom of Expression in Africa (University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg)

Through Media Freedom and Freedom of Expression in Africa, the University of the Witwatersrand aims to empower all those who are interested in ensuring a free, pluralistic and independent African media, with a focus on activists, students, regulators, journalists, lawyers.

Media plays an important role in democratic societies ensuring freedom of expression and fostering access to information. This course will help you to identify the principles and components of democratic media policy and practice, and to identify strategies for effective engagement with these matters in African settings.

The course draws on a network of experts and case studies from across the region and mediums, exploring freedom of expression, freedom of information and access to information. It also equips you with effective strategies to advocate for democratic Africa media ecosystems.

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Digital Security and Human Rights (Amnesty International)

Digital Security and Human Rights addresses key human rights implications of digital security with a focus on the right to freedom of expression and the right to privacy. It provides a foundation to help you understand better the range of digital threats and how to strengthen your own digital security practices.

You will be challenged to assess your own practices online and learn how digital security is a matter that concerns us all in the fight for the right to privacy and freedom of expression. In addition, you will be equipped with skills to help you advocate for a rights-respecting digital world.

The course also explores mass surveillance and the core mechanisms making it possible, and helps explain why we should all take action to defend our right to privacy.

Register here

Human Rights: The Right to Freedom of Expression (Amnesty International)

More than 45.000 people have enrolled in Amnesty International’s first Massive Open Online Course on Freedom of Expression. In this course you will learn about the application and scope of the Right to Freedom of Expression and how you can take action to promote and defend this right. You will explore how Freedom of Expression is linked to other rights such as the Right to Peaceful Assembly and the Right to Association.

The course features two stories of Roshan and Malaya, two fictional human rights defenders based on true stories, who are exposed to threats, harassment and inhuman treatment. Throughout the course you will analyse their cases for human rights violations and watch recorded live sessions of human rights defenders whose rights are under threat.

The Right to Freedom of Expression requires no prior knowledge of human rights. By the end of the course you will have knowledge of the right to Freedom of Expression, you will be able to critically assess information related to Freedom of Expression and have the skills and confidence to take action to defend Freedom of Expression.

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