UNESCO and Oxford University launch a Massive Open Online Course for judicial actors on international standards on freedom of expression and the safety of journalists


UNESCO and the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights at the University of Oxford are launching a joint Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on 10 May 2021 for judges and judicial actors on international standards on freedom of expression and the safety of journalists. The online course aims in particular to increase the knowledge of members of the judicial systems, such as judges, prosecutors, representatives of judicial training institutes, lawyers and other legal professionals, on international standards and regional jurisprudence on freedom of expression, access to information and safety of journalists.

Freedom of expression and rule of law are keystones of consolidate democracies and essential elements for the protection and promotion of all human rights. This MOOC is a unique opportunity to engage the justice community in this fundamental debate for our current global, regional and national challenges.

Guilherme Canela, chief of UNESCO’s Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists’ Section

The free 5-week online course will be divided into five Modules and will cover (1) the general principles and scope of freedom of expression; (2) the limitations on the right to freedom of expression; (3) the right of access to information; (4) the question of the safety of journalists; and, (5) challenges created by the digital world. 

The MOOC is targeted at practitioners and judicial officers, but it will also include people who are working for human rights commissions, prosecutors, people who need to understand international law on freedom of speech in their daily lives and work. We are hoping to be able to get a really global representation of people working in the field, and to deepen our understanding of freedom of expression around the world.

Kate O’Regan, Director of the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights at the University of Oxford

Judges and members of the judicial systems can play an essential role in the promotion and protection of freedom of expression and its corollaries, freedom of the press and access to information. Through UNESCO’s Judges’ Initiative, since 2013, over 18,000 judicial actors from Latin America, Africa and the Arab region have been trained on the international and regional standards on freedom of expression and the safety of journalists. This MOOC is developed in continuity with these efforts and aims to give a global scope to this endeavor by strengthening the capacities and knowledge of judges, prosecutors, lawyers and representatives of judicial training institutes from around the world on these fundamental issues.

The course will be led by experts in the field of human rights and freedom of expression, and will include as high-level guest speakers Irene Khan, the UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Opinion and Expression; Justice Stella Anukam from the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights; Judge Darian Pavli from the European Court of Human Rights; Judge Ricardo Pérez Manrique from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights; Catalina Botero Marino, former Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR); Baroness Helena Kennedy, Director of the International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI); Jeanette Manning, Director of the National Association of Attorney Generals; Nani Jansen Reventlow, human rights lawyer and Director of the Digital Freedom Fund; and Karuna Nundy, lawyer at the Supreme Court of India.

The 5-week course is open to legal professionals from all justice systems. The course will run from the weeks of the 10 May until the 07 June 2021, with the possibility for participants to complete the course until the 30 June 2021. A certificate of completion will be issued to all participants who complete the course.

Registrations for the MOOC are now open. Please fill out the registration form here

More information on the MOOC can be found here.