Global Freedom of Expression

21 October

World Leaders Forum: Courts and Global Norms on Freedom of Expression

  • 9:00am-12:00pm EDT
  • Virtual Event



Columbia Global Freedom of Expression and the World Leaders Forum, with the support of UNESCO, are pleased to host this two-part conference which seeks to promote dialogue, as well as, the exchange of experiences and best practices between domestic and international courts. These sessions also aim to analyze the application of global norms to better protect freedom of expression, with the goal to contribute to the expansion of a global understanding of the scopes and limits of this fundamental right in the digital sphere.

The video is now available on YouTube in EnglishSpanish and Portuguese

9:00 am EDT


Professor Roberto Saba, Constitutional Law and Human Rights Law Professor, Universidad de Palermo (Argentina)

Opening Remarks

Lee C. Bollinger, President and Seth Low Professor of the University, Columbia University

SESSION 1: The application of international legal standards and comparative law practices in deciding upon freedom of expression cases

Deliberations that take place in the global public sphere require global norms on freedom of expression, which include international human rights law standards and principles drawn from comparative law. High Courts and International Courts are crucial institutions responsible for defining the scope of the exercise of freedom of expression as well as in imposing limits to political power when it threatens this freedom. In many countries around the world, national courts resort to global norms when addressing conflicts regarding freedom of expression which usually strengthens and raises international standards. Global norms that reflect high standards of protection can help restrain regressive trends and the way in which Courts apply them has become crucial for the future of freedom of expression and for the quality of the global public sphere.

Introductions by:

Dr. iur. Dana Schmalz, Senior Research Fellow, Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law

Presentations by:

10:45 am EDT

SESSION 2: Challenges for judicial protection of freedom of expression in the digital sphere

Despite all the work done by Courts interpreting and protecting freedom of expression, they have had to face new challenges which have surfaced in the last few decades, such as the advent of global platforms and the consequent discussion about the application of global standards regarding the reach and content of freedom of expression in the digital sphere. In most nations, anxiety has increased regarding the dissemination of information that can cause substantial damage to people’s lives or undermine democratic institutions, among other risks. At the same time, based on these concerns, both governments and the public have often pushed for greater constraints on freedom of expression online creating new dilemmas and problems to be solved.

Introductions by:

Prof. Ruth Rubio Marín, Professor of Constitutional Law, University of Sevilla

Presentations by:

Closing Remarks:

Prof. Catalina Botero Marino, Columbia Global Freedom of Expression

The video is now available on YouTube in EnglishSpanish and Portuguese