International: ARTICLE 19’s Annual Report 2020: meeting threats with resilience

International: ARTICLE 19’s Annual Report 2020: meeting threats with resilience - Civic Space

People gather in front of the culture ministry to show solidarity with dissident artists and to demand a dialogue over limits on freedom of expression, in Havana, Cuba, November 27, 2020. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini

In a world still grieving from the third wave of the pandemic, we know the unprecedented events of 2020 fundamentally changed the world in ways we are still trying to understand.

What we do know is that much of what was hidden or barely acknowledged, such as inequality and discrimination, has been thrown into stark relief.  There is no turning away from systemic discrimination, inequality and the impact they have on freedoms we all have a right to claim.

Throughout the crisis ARTICLE 19 has shown that when trying to manage the threat to public health, governments responded with restrictive measures for limited periods.  And while their powers had limits, we saw government after government seek to exploit the crisis, entrench power and gain greater control over their populations.

At the height of the pandemic last year, and as failures (and casualties) mounted, it was  lack of accurate information and transparency that drove the public response in many countries.   And where in some States, proactive, thoughtful leadership kept the worst impact of the pandemic at bay, access to clear accurate and unequivocal information undoubtedly resulted in lower casualties.

With the launch of our annual report on 6th May 2021, we review how our teams were able to rise to the challenges posed by the pandemic in 2020.

Working with partners in civil society and government we collectively shone a light on the erosion of freedom of expression globally.  We adopted innovative programmes to protect people’s freedoms and ensure their voices could be heard.

From campaigns supporting indigenous people in the Amazon to television broadcasts in Bangladesh; and from disinformation trackers in Western Africa, to an award-winning health channel in Tunisia, the breadth of engagement in 2020 highlights the remarkable resilience and resolve of our human rights defenders across the globe.

And as ARTICLE 19s Expression Agenda strategy concludes this year, Executive Director Quinn McKew looks to the future in the design of a new four-year strategy.

“Reducing inequalities and tackling the climate crisis, are the two biggest challenges facing humanity.  We know that true innovation and sustainable solutions matter in meeting those challenges, and they are only be possible if we can guarantee that all people everywhere are free to speak and know how to access the information they need to make decisions about their lives.

“ARTICLE 19 and our partners will be ready to meet those challenges in the coming years. And I feel immensely proud of the achievements of all our staff in preparing the ground to do so.”



Read the report