Freedom of Expression




The United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Representative on Freedom of the Media, the Organization of American States (OAS) Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information,


Having discussed these issues together with the assistance of ARTICLE 19: Global Campaign for Free Expression and the Centre for Law and Democracy;


Recalling and reaffirming our Joint Declarations of 26 November 1999, 30 November 2000, 20 November

2001, 10 December 2002, 18 December 2003, 6 December 2004, 21 December 2005, 19 December 2006,

12 December 2007, 10 December 2008, 15 May 2009, 3 February 2010, 1 June 2011, 25 June 2012, 4 May

2013, 6 May 2014, 4 May 2015, 4 May 2016, 3 March 2017, 2 May 2018, 10 July 2019, 30 April 2020 and

20 October 2021;


Underlining the critical role that the right to freedom of opinion and expression plays in the promotion and protection of human rights and dignity, the advancement of sustainable development, and the supporting and strengthening of democratic societies;


Highlighting that freedom of expression is critical for women’s empowerment, equality, enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights, as well as for civil and political rights, and full participation in public life;


Noting that gender equality and the right to freedom of opinion and expression are mutually reinforcing, indivisible and interdependent;


Emphasizing that gender justice signifies transformative changes to remove structural and systemic barriers and create an enabling environment in which women (and others who suffer discrimination on account of sex or gender) can exercise their rights and participate fully and equally in the private, public and political sphere;


Recognizing the importance of the internet and digital technology in bolstering freedom of expression and access to information globally, and promoting the empowerment of women and others who experience discrimination and marginalization;


Deploring the structural obstacles, including sexual and gender-based violence, misogyny, entrenched bias, social prejudices, patriarchal conventions, and interpretations of cultural and religious norms, as well as discriminatory laws, policies and practices and unequal access to digital technology and participation in the media that prevent women’s equal enjoyment of freedom of expression;


Deeply concerned that online gender-based violence, gendered hate speech and disinformation, which cause serious psychological harm and can lead to physical violence, are proliferating with the aim of intimidating and silencing women, including female politicians, journalists and human rights defenders;


Condemning online attacks and harassment of women journalists as one of the most serious contemporary threats to their safety and damaging to media freedom;


Noting that independent, free, pluralistic and diverse media are essential in a democratic society and that gender inequality diminishes media pluralism and diversity;


Alarmed at the increasing use of frivolous and vexatious lawsuits to dissuade women from participating in public life or from speaking out against alleged perpetrators of sexual and gender-based violence;


Recognizing the need for inclusion and sensitivity to the intersectionality of gender and other characteristics that cause or exacerbate women’s experience of discrimination, including race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, age, legal and socio-economic status or other factors;


Noting that both sex and gender have been the basis for inequality and discrimination in the exercise of freedom of opinion and expression and that while the Declaration focuses primarily on women, where appropriate, reference is made to gender non-conforming people (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning or LGBTQ+ individuals);


Noting further that the term "women" in the Declaration also refers to girls in the appropriate context;


Adopt, on 03 May 2022, the following Declaration on Freedom of Expression and Gender Justice.




1.       Elimination of discrimination and prejudice


a.       States are obliged under international law to proactively remove the structural and systemic barriers to equality as well as discriminatory laws, policies and practices that impede women’s full enjoyment of all human rights, including the right to freedom of opinion and expression. The obligation entails positive duties to eliminate gender stereotypes, negative social norms and discriminatory attitudes in society through education programs, social policies, cultural practices, and laws and policies that prohibit discrimination and sexual and gender-based violence and to promote equality and inclusion.


b.       Eliminating discrimination against women requires a "whole of society" approach. States, the private sector and civil society should work together to address discrimination, stereotyping and interpretations of culture, religion and tradition that subordinate and disempower women and are a root cause of sexual and gender-based violence as well as gendered censorship.