Freedom of expression (both online and offline) is a human right that will take on increasing importance beyond 2015 as humanity moves more and more towards a knowledge society. Progress in peace, democracy and development, for individuals, communities and countries, and in regard to gender and Africa, will be driven by the free flow of information and ideas, and by people’s abilities to convert these assets into knowledge and subsequently facilitate development.
The correlatives of free expression, namely the right to information and press freedom, will be equally essential components of the communications landscape after 2015. It is unthinkable that progress in research, innovation, and learning will be able to occur on a global scale if any part of the world, or any social group, is left in fetters as regards freedom of expression. Societies need to co-operate to ensure that international standards are respected, and to ensure that every human being can exercise her or his freedom of speech.
The pursuit of development is heavily dependent on both freedom of expression and the universal access to information and knowledge. ICTs, which are the main gateways through which information and knowledge are accessed, are increasingly facilitating development by proving citizens with the necessary tools for self-empowerment and businesses with the avenues and know-how to significantly increase economic activity. In addition, the quest of young students and researchers to harness knowledge and information in order to actively contribute to the development of their communities, is made possible through Open Access (OA) to scientific information and Open Educational Resources (OERs).