Freedom of Expression

"Kotahi te kōhao o te ngira e kuhuna ai te miro mā, te miro whero, te miro pango. There is but one eye of the needle through which white, red and black thread must go." – Kīngi Pōtatau Te Wherowhero

What is Freedom of Expression

In a UNESCO context, Freedom of Expression encompasses the: free flow of ideas by word and image that contributes to peace, sustainability, poverty eradication and human rights”.

UNESCO recognises that human rights apply equally online and offline, and that the exercise of freedom of expression carries obligations and responsibilities.

How will we support Freedom of Expression?

Our approach is to work in partnership with communities to support freedom of expression. We want to bring together civil society and communities to discuss ways to celebrate diversity through an increased understanding of human rights and supporting a more inclusive society for all.

Why have we made this a priority?

We believe we have a role to play in continuing to support diverse communities in Aotearoa New Zealand through our programmes and the work we are undertaking in our priority areas at a local, national and international level.

Key to this is working together with our associate members, cooperating agencies and community groups, to promote our programmes and the work we are doing to promote freedom of expression that contributes to peace, tolerance and human rights, while addressing mis and disinformation.

In this work we recognise the unique New Zealand context, grounded in Te Tiriti o Waitangi principles and informed by Māori tikanga and values as they sit at the heart of what UNESCO strives to achieve.

What work have we undertaken in this area?

Our work builds on insights gained at the 2019 national Youth Diversity Forum which we organised in partnership with Ngāi Tahu and the Human Rights Commission. The Forum was followed by a Youth Declaration Call For Action (presented at the 40th General Conference in Paris) which called for individual as well as community and institutional change.

We work in partnership with our communities to celebrate and support diversity and social inclusion in Aotearoa New Zealand and to recognise the obligations and responsibilities in relation to freedom of expression.

We do this by:

  • supporting initiatives by stakeholder and community groups that address discrimination, hate speech, mis and disinformation such as the Race Unity Speech Awards and Hui
  • actively engaging with UNESCO networks and partners to share work and practice, on diversity and inclusion.
  • supporting people in Aotearoa to attend and engage in relevant international meetings and forums.
  • sharing relevant UNESCO publications domestically, particularly those relating to addressing mis, dis and mal-information, hate speech and conspiracy theories.
  • supporting the work of UNESCO in emphasising the role of education, analytical skills, development, digital media literacy and digital platform governance in combating mis and disinformation and hate speech, both on and offline..

Next up:

Indigenous Knowledge and the UN Decade of Indigenous Languages.
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