Freedom of Expression

Press Release R25/17

Joint Declaration on Freedom of Expression and "Fake News", Disinformation and Propaganda



March 7, 2017


Washington D.C., - Vienna.

On March 3rd, leading experts on freedom of expression of the UN, OSCE, IACHR and the African Commission on Human Rights issued their Joint Declaration of 2017 in Vienna, Austria. This year the Joint Declaration addresses the phenomenon of disinformation, propaganda and so-called "fake news".


The Special Rapporteur Edison Lanza stated that "disinformation and propaganda strongly affect democracy: they erode the credibility of traditional media, interfere with the right of people to seek and receive information of all kinds, and may increase hostility and hatred against certain vulnerable groups in society. Therefore, we recognize the initiatives of civil society and the media to identify deliberately fake news, disinformation and propaganda, and raise awareness on these issues. However, it is disquieting that governments use the phenomenon of so-called fake news as an excuse to censor independent media and suppress dissent."


The Special Rapporteurs explained that both the State and the private sectors efforts to counter disinformation and propaganda run the risk of suppressing the free flow of ideas and dissent, contrary to international human rights law. The Joint Declaration identifies general principles, standards and good practices that should be applied and promoted while dealing with these issues.


The Joint Declaration was signed by the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), Edison Lanza along with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, the Representative of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Dunja Mijatoviæ, and the Rapporteur of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), Faith Pansy Tlakula.


The Joint Declaration is available here.