EU Human Rights Guidelines on Freedom of Expression Online and Offline

EU Human Rights Guidelines on Freedom of Expression
Online and Offline
FOREIG AFFAIRS Council meeting
Brussels, 12 May 2014

The Council adopted the following guidelines:


1. Freedom of opinion and expression are fundamental rights of every human being.
Indispensable for individual dignity and fulfilment, they also constitute essential foundations for democracy, rule of law, peace, stability, sustainable inclusive development and participation in public affairs. States have an obligation to respect, protect and promote the rights to freedom of opinion and expression.

2. Freedom of opinion and expression are essential for the fulfilment and enjoyment of a wide range of other human rights, including freedom of association and assembly, freedom of thought, religion or belief, the right to education, the right to take part in cultural life, the right to vote and all other political rights related to participation in public affairs. Democracy cannot exist without them.

3. Freedom of opinion and expression are important in and of themselves for the promotion of
individuals’ self-fulfilment and autonomy. Freedom of expression, including artistic
expression, is essential for the development and manifestation of individuals’ identities in

4. Free, diverse and independent media are essential in any society to promote and protect
freedom of opinion and expression and other human rights. By facilitating the free flow of
information and ideas on matters of general interest, and by ensuring transparency and
accountability, independent media constitute one of the cornerstones of a democratic society.

Without freedom of expression and freedom of the media, an informed, active and engaged
citizenry is impossible.

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