Global Freedom of Expression

Intergovernmental Organizations

United Nations Human Rights System

The United Nations Treaty Collection is a free online database that provides the most detailed information on the status of major multilateral treaties deposited with the Secretary General of the United Nations. Under “Status of Treaties (MTDSG),” the site provides full and up-to-date information on major human rights treaties and their respective protocols, including the status of treaties, the list of member states, and existing declarations and reservations. The database enables advanced search of documents by title, treaty type, date of entry into force, place of conclusion, and signatories.

The website of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is the United Nations’ principal source of information on human rights law and standards, decision-making bodies, monitoring, and implementation mechanisms. Its “Human right bodies” page provides access to both UN Charter-based and treaty-based bodies, including the Human Rights Committee, which monitors the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The site’s “Human rights in the World” located under the page of “Countries” also offers specific-country information, including the statute of ratifications, reporting status, special procedures, and concluding observations.

The United Nations Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental institution within the UN human rights system. Its site, accessible through the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights provides access to the Council’s documents and resolutions, searchable by regular and special sessions. The “Universal Periodic Review” page also contains national reports and implantation information submitted by the member states to the Council under the Universal Periodic Review process.

The Human Rights Committee is a body of independent experts in charge of monitoring the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Its website, accessible through the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights provides full-text access to the Covenant and its two optional protocols. In addition to information on State parties reports and the Committee’s concluding observations, and general comments, the site provides access to the individual complaints against member states under “Table of jurisprudence” or “Jurisprudence database.”

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression is an independent expert, appointed by the Human Rights Council with the mandate of gathering all relevant information relating to freedom of opinion and expression, and to make recommendations on means to better protect the right. The “Documents” page provides access to the Rapporteur’s thematic and country-specific reports submitted to the UN General Assembly and the Human Rights Council.

The United Nations Development Programme is the UN’s global development network to reduce poverty, enhance democratic governance, assist countries to prevent crises, and address environmental challenges. Access to information and support for development of information and communication technologies is one of the Programme’s areas of focus.  The webpage provides related information about its initiatives and studies in different countries and regions, such as the promotion of electronic governance in Africa.

The Communication and Information Sector of UNESCO consists of two main divisions: the Freedom of Expression and Media Development and Knowledge Societies Division. The core function of the Division of Freedom of Expression and Media Development includes implementation of activities that promote the free flow of information. The Division’s webpage provides in-depth information and useful resources on various issues surrounding the right to freedom of expression, including the Internet freedom, press freedom and the right to access information.

The International Telecommunication Union is the United Nations’ specialized agency for information and communication technologies. The Union’s “Statistics” page features the latest data on various telecommunication development indicators around the world, such as mobile-cellular subscriptions, fixed-broadband subscriptions, and Internet access. The website also provides free access to the Union’s publications, standards, and resources.

The United Nations Internet Governance Forum is a global multi-stakeholder forum sponsored by the UN in order to advance and strengthen interaction and cooperation on public policy issues and developmental aspects relating to Internet governance. Its website features thematic discussions on Internet, the Forum’s national and regional initiatives, and publications.