Delegation of the European Union to the

UN and other international organisations in Geneva

HRC 47 - EU Intervention:Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression

Geneva, 05/07/2021 - 10:14, UNIQUE ID: 210705_5
Statements on behalf of the EU


Madam President,

We thank Special Rapporteur Khan for the presentation of the report on disinformation and freedom of opinion and expression.

The freedom of opinion and expression, which includes the freedom to seek, receive and impart information without interference, is essential in combatting the current global health- and economic crisis. The EU is concerned about increased restrictions on freedom of expression around the world and we stress that emergency situations cannot be used as a pretext to unduly limit the enjoyment of this right embedded in international human rights law.

The spread of misinformation, disinformation, and foreign information manipulation, has serious consequences, including undermining our international rules-based order, and putting the health, security and environment of citizens at risk, as well as democratic processes. They also become very visible throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and need to be addressed in its aftermath to build back better.

The Human Rights Council affirmed that responses to disinformation must respect international human rights law.[1]  As you rightfully stated in the report, the right to freedom of opinion and expression, as well as the right to seek, receive and impart information is the objective and framework for combating disinformation.

The EU is working closely with member states, international partners and organisations, private sector and civil society to ensure a human rights based approach to countering disinformation, through a whole-of-society approach and different multi-stakeholder initiatives, such as the Code of Practice on Disinformation and the Draft Digital Services Act. This approach also includes efforts aimed at building a global response to disinformation through, support and cooperation on media and information literacy (MIL), as outlined in the European Democracy Action Plan.

Madam Special Rapporteur, you highlight the restoration of public trust in the integrity of information as a major challenge. Can you elaborate on how this can be achieved and on the roles for States and private actors?


[1] HRC 44/12 on Freedom of Opinion and Expression

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