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UN HRC53: UK Statement on the right to freedom of expression

Thank you Mr President.

We welcome the Special Rapporteur’s latest report.

Freedom of expression – both offline and online – guarantees meaningful participation and helps ensure that development is sustainable, and benefits all. We pay tribute to the journalists and activists who play a critical and legitimate role in campaigning for sustainable development, including on land, environmental, health and socio-economic issues.

As the Special Rapporteur highlights, too often these groups face unprecedented threats, violence, intimidation, internet disruption, as well as mis- and disinformation. It is incumbent on all supporters of Agenda 2030 to protect the freedom to seek, receive and impart information, as well as the ability of citizens to participate in public affairs.

The UK is committed to defending freedom of expression at home and abroad.  We are introducing new legislation to tackle lawsuits which are intended to censor, intimidate or silence journalists.

Our Media Literacy Strategy also empowers citizens to make informed decisions online. Internationally, the UK is active in the Media Freedom Coalition, and we remain committed to tackling internet shutdowns, including as current co-chair of the Freedom Online Coalition Task Force on Internet Shutdowns.

Special Rapporteur,

How should we protect access to information and enable citizen participation in public affairs?

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