A Historian’s View of the International Freedom of Expression Framework

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    The international freedom of expression framework as established by the United Nations in recent decades has been the accumulated and sophisticated result of philosophical and legal thinking since the Enlightenment, if not earlier. The framework is an integral part of the international human rights system and it is shared almost worldwide, albeit with some regional variations. It is common inside legal circles, but less well-known outside of it. This is regrettable as the framework provides standards to discuss the merits of different law types and offers criteria to evaluate arguments in discussions about free expression, information and secrecy. Scholars outside the legal realm need to develop their own reading of it. Therefore, I shall approach it here, by way of illustration, from the particular angle of my own profession, history. It goes without saying that many history-related remarks are applicable, mutatis mutandis, to other scholarship as well. I provide only an outline of the framework, although many of its parts merit in-depth treatment.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number8
    Number of pages18
    JournalSecrecy and Society
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 30-Nov-2016


    • freedom of expression
    • United Nations
    • human rights
    • freedom of opinion

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