Is it time for a global conversation on free speech?

A panel of experts joins FSD Director Timothy Garton Ash at London’s Frontline Club to discuss some of the world’s most pressing free speech issues.

In this Frontline Club event, FSD Director Timothy Garton Ash and a panel of experts discuss Free Speech Debate and the 10 principles. Following an introduction by Garton Ash, Khaled Fahmy, professor and chair of American University in Cairo’s Department of History, talks about the principles that lay at the heart of the Egyptian revolution, including access to information (12mins). According to Fahmy, the freedom of information bill is currently being thwarted by the military who do not want citizens to be able to delve into the past. Next up is Marie Gillespie, professor of Sociology at The Open University and co-director of the Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change, whose research with BBC Arabic has shown that those on social media platforms often engage in monologues rather than dialogues (20mins 40secs). She further questions Garton Ash’s premise that “we are all neighbours now”. Gillespie says: “The structural inequalities that we see in the world are replicated and sometimes intensified online.” The final panellist is Kirsty Hughes, chief executive of Index on Censorship, who runs through some of the main free speech issues facing the world in 2012 including privatisation of free speech, privacy and hate speech (25mins 57secs). She concludes: “My answer to do we need a global code is no we don’t. We have the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19 and regional human rights declarations. But we do need to fight to promote and defend freedom of expression.”

Main image: Protestors gather in Tahrir Square on February 1, 2011 in Cairo, Egypt (photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images).

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Comments (3)

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  1. I have tried to agree to 2 principles including this one, using the YES button. The emails I receive in response inform me I have voted against! I have therefore not confirmed, but trashed these. If this is a common problem then you may have some false negatives in your results!

    • Hi Sarah, thanks for pointing out this out. Our web developer has assured me that while the emails you received said you voted against, the votes registered would have been Yes. This has now been fixed.

  2. Oh and please vote again!

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Free Speech Debate is a research project of the Dahrendorf Programme for the Study of Freedom at St Antony's College in the University of Oxford. www.freespeechdebate.ox.ac.uk

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