Working Group on Freedom of Opinion and Expression

Freedom of expression is not only one of the core human rights protected by international law, but also one of the anchors of democracy – as emphasized in the Warsaw Declaration. Each and every day, it is challenged by constant restrictions from governments around the world that wish to undermine public opinion and criticism.

The Working Group on Freedom of Opinion and Expression seeks to foster collaboration among the Community of Democracies’ participating states and civil society organizations to promote freedom of opinion and counter the trends that suppress it.

Areas of collaboration include coordinated multilateral activity and consensus-building initiatives, joint advocacy and programmatic projects to address journalist safety and existing restrictive measures.


New publication:

”Toolkit on the Safety of Journalists for the Personnel of the Diplomatic Missions.”

The Working Group is committed to promote the vital link between protecting free speech and democracy. To do so, the Working Group in September 2017 produced the first ever TOOLKIT ON THE SAFETY OF JOURNALISTS FOR THE PERSONNEL OF THE DIPLOMATIC MISSIONS. The Toolkit’s key objective is to provide guidance on the safety of journalists and media actors to diplomatic personnel who might come into contact with journalists in distress.

In creating the toolkit we discussed with diplomats and journalists about what information would be most helpful in their work. The results include information on how to respond in a careful and sensitive way to journalists’ needs in moments of crisis and what different legal instruments are available to the individual journalist and diplomatic personnel.

The toolkit will also help promote a common approach by all embassies that provides more awareness and systemic support for protection of civilians. As local contexts and needs of individual journalists vary, the Toolkit – while providing a common approach – should not be treated as one-size-fits-all guidance, but rather as a toolbox that provides various options and solutions from which diplomatic personnel can choose when developing an approach tailored to local context and needs.

The toolkit will help diplomats create a safer environment for journalists and, in turn, help protect freedom of speech and our democratic institutions.

The toolkit can be downloaded below: