International Annual Report 2021: a critical juncture

International Annual Report 2021: a critical juncture - Civic Space

International Annual Report 2021 cover

ARTICLE 19 has released their annual report for 2021, reflecting on six years of the Expression Agenda and how the organisation has responded to the growing threats to freedom of expression around the world.

While the statistics revealed in our Global Expression Report are a stark reminder of just how many people on this planet do not enjoy freedom expression, the annual report is also a celebration of the work of dozens of partners, organisations and individual activists. It is those individuals and organisationswho are making tremendous strides to strengthen media literacy, improve government transparency, tackle hate speech and regulate social media corporations.

Despite the threats to a fragile democracy in Tunisia, ARTICLE 19 has worked with the ministry of education there to integrate its hate speech tools into schools. In Malaysia, a youth campaign has promoted empathy, diversity and inclusiveness at a time of growing faith-based discrimination. And across the European Union, ARTICLE 19 has been at the centre of a coordinated campaign against lawsuits aimed at silencing journalists, known as SLAPPs.

During 2021 dozens of our projects drove change around the world. Individual activists were released as ARTICLE 19 joined others to protest the detention of those who stood up for their rights. International advocacy led by our policy and law teams saw important developments aimed at reigning in unaccountable tech giants, as well as further work on protecting freedom of expression online. Important new research on the intersection of biometric technologies and freedom of expression was also launched. And significant progress was made on researching the stigmatisation of protest around the world.

As we at ARTICLE 19 turn our attention to implementing our new four-year strategy The Power of Our Voices, the world is in a very precipitous situation. We are at a critical juncture. Our response is to ensure digital spaces are rooted in human rights; that public space is more inclusive and protective of the right of expression; and the information we all receive empowers us to claim our rights.

To tackle disinformation, we need more expression, not less. To expose the dangers of authoritarianism, we need more voices, not fewer. To share the benefits of freedom more widely, we must be more inclusive, not more restrictive. To protect our futures, we must face down impunity, not turn in the other direction.

As the suffering of the people of Ukraine continues at the hands of a barbaric Russian military, truth continues to be denied to the vast majority of Russians. We are reminded daily that protecting the freedom to speak and the freedom to know is not about a vague cerebral concept:  it is about how we all have a stake in holding power to account.

Without freedom of expression, all of our other rights lose their meaning.

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