Global Freedom of Expression


Call for Papers: UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day 2023 Academic Conference

Key Details

  • Themes
    Press Freedom

The Role of Academia in Protecting Freedom of Expression as a Driver for Other Human Rights

Location: MLK Conference Room 527, located in Riverside Church,

91 Claremont Avenue (between Broadway and Riverside Drive)

Columbia University, New York, USA

1 May 2023 – 10:00-13:00 EST (Hybrid event)


Organisers: Columbia Global Freedom of Expression, University of Liverpool, University of Sheffield and Worlds of Journalism Study

As part of UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day 2023, an academic conference will take place at Columbia University in New York on 1 May 2023 as a hybrid event. The academic conference focuses on freedom of expression as a driver for other human rights, linking to UNESCO’s overall theme for World Press Freedom Day 2023. Academia has played an important role in World Press Freedom Day by hosting an academic conference that provides a forum to hear from scholars who research constraints on media freedom in all their complexity. As this is the 30th anniversary of World Press Freedom Day, the first part of this year’s academic conference will provide an opportunity to reflect on and celebrate academia’s contributions to better understanding the challenges of journalism safety and media freedom, as well as looking ahead at how it can contribute to these pressing issues in a future where freedom of expression is being threatened around the world. This interactive workshop will provide an opportunity for scholars to come together to discuss how we can continue to build stronger interdisciplinary academic capacity and greater collaboration between academia and civil society. An action statement will be produced on the next steps academia can take.

The second half of the conference will be a panel session. We invite contributions that discuss current challenges to freedom of expression as a driver for other human rights. The academic consultations on the 10th anniversary of the UN Plan on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity identified six areas posing significant challenges to freedom of expression: digital safety; gender-specific safety issues; workplace safety issues; improving monitoring; understanding impunity; and the weaponisation of the law. Papers addressing any of these areas while highlighting the link with protection or curtailment of freedom of expression are welcome.

Submission requirements: Abstracts of 250 words and an author bio of 100 words should be submitted by 27 March 2023 via the following link –

detailing the research area being considered and its links to freedom of expression. The event will be hybrid with the option to attend either in person or online. There will also be a chance for abstracts to be published on both the Journalism Safety Research Network’s (JSRN) website and University of Liverpool’s DigiPol: Centre for Digital Politics, Media and Democracy website. Academics who would like to attend without presenting at the event in person or online, can also register their interest via the link.

If you have any questions, please get in touch with Dr Vera Slavtcheva-Petkova ( or Dr Gemma Horton (

We look forward to seeing you at the academic conference as part of UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day!

Best wishes,

The Organising Committee

Professor Jackie Harrison, UNESCO Chair on Media Freedom, Journalism Safety and the Issue of Impunity

Dr Vera-Slavtcheva Petkova, Reader in Global Journalism and Media, University of Liverpool, UK / Worlds of Journalism Study Executive Board Member

Catalina Botero, Columbia Global Freedom of Expression

Dr Gemma Horton, Impact Fellow, Centre for Freedom of the Media

Dr Emily Harmer, Senior Lecturer in Media Studies, University of Liverpool, UK

Dr Rosalynd Southern, Senior Lecturer in Political Communication, University of Liverpool, UK

Dr Christos Kostopoulos, Research Associate, University of Liverpool, UK