ARTICLE 19 warmly welcomes America’s 46th President, Joe Biden, following his inauguration earlier today. The arrival of the new administration offers a historic opportunity to rebuild trust in democratic processes and protect fundamental human rights after one of the most destructive presidential terms in living memory.
After a difficult four years, where a free press was under repeated attack, we have seen the very essence of speaking truth to power come under sustained assault. President Biden’s administration brings hope that America can once again champion those who speak against injustice, who seek accountability, and who express themselves freely.
Welcoming the news, Executive Director Quinn McKew said:
“Now more than ever, the world needs a positive way forward. There is much that divides us in America and globally. Good leaders know their job is not to divide, but to encourage understanding.
“President-Elect Biden has signalled that he will support human rights and freedom of expression, re-engaging with the global debates that will help to repair some of the damage done over the last four years.
“Reinvigorating democracy and rebuilding trust will be a challenge. We look forward to working with our US colleagues and our global network to support and ensure the rights of freedom of expression are protected, and are accessible to all.”
The key priorities for ARTICLE 19 include:
- Ensuring a robust COVID-19 information environment, based on the active promotion of reliable health advice to combat the devastating impact of the pandemic in the United States and globally. Enabling the voices of those who have suffered the most will go some way to healing the political chasm in the US.
- Support for the media and the promotion of a positive agenda. This follows a series of ongoing public attacks by the previous administration. Protests became more dangerous for journalists, with assaults at rallies and attacks on photographers and reporters during the recent riots at Capitol Hill. We urge the Biden administration to view the media as essential partners in the provision of reliable information.
- The impact of online disinformation, particularly around election fraud, has been rising. Since President Trump’s social media accounts were suspended, disinformation has dropped 73 per cent, according to a recent study by a San Francisco-based analytics firm Zignal Labs. Encouraging Big Tech companies to clamp down on the most damaging hate speech and false information will be vital.
- Re-engaging with international multilateral systems and, in particular, the UN Human Rights Council. These bodies are essential in coordinating our global response to key freedom of expression issues.
- Appropriate media and internet regulation that takes into account the international obligation to protect freedom of expression will be another key priority. We look to the Biden administration to affirm the right to access information for all.
Freedom of expression is a cornerstone of democracy. We look forward to working with our partners in the US and across the international community to play an active role in promoting justice, tolerance and understanding.
Now it is for President Biden’s administration to set a new path for freedom of expression that guarantees a return to democratic values and restores hope in justice and liberty, wherever we are in the world.