Freedom of Speech

Street Art – Exploring Barcelona

Freedom of speech – the right to speak out, to debate, to criticize, to disseminate information on matters of public importance – is one of the most basic of human rights. Article 19 of the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights holds that “everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression.” The constitutions and laws of countless countries strive to protect the free-speech rights of individuals and journalists. Yet the right to speak out is not absolute, and it is not enjoyed by everyone.

Defamation laws and human rights codes regulate and penalize those who would use speech to harm and denigrate others. Many governments pay lip service to guarantees of free expression; others actively censor citizens and the media; still others use punitive laws to attack and silence critics. Social stigma and excessive political correctness stifle debate and demonize some speakers, and ethnic and racial groups are the targets of hostility and hate speech.

In western countries where speech is largely considered to be free, notions such as “post truth”, “alternative facts” or “fake news” are recently making headlines, making us wonder about the responsibilities that come with public speech and about where the line should be drawn between an individual’s right to express themselves freely and society’s right not to be purposefully misinformed.


2nd Global Conference
Freedom of Speech – Truth and Censorship in the 21st Century
Saturday 12th October 2019 – Sunday 13th October 2019
Vienna, Austria

The call for proposals is now open.