Rule of Law

Identify why the rule of law is necessary to freedom of expression

Freedom of Expression laws, such as Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, give citizens the right to seek information, receive information and impart information.

  • Class discussion/Student exercise, Part 1: Select any news story. After reading the story what do people know that they didn’t before? Who (or what institution) benefits from that knowledge/information? Who would benefit if that information did not become public?
  • Class discussion/Student exercise, Part 2: Consider this comment: The history of intellectual growth and discovery demonstrates the need to “think the unthinkable, discuss the unmentionable, and challenge the unchallengeable.” C. Vann Woodward, Report of the Committee on Freedom of Expression at Yale

➢ Now consider your story. Does it say anything that anyone would disagree with? What is the value of a full and unhindered discussion of the story’s subject? Who would have problems with such public debate? What would be the short-term repercussions of such a debate? What might be the long-term repercussions?

  • Follow-up class discussion: Why should Freedom of Expression be protected? Do you need a law to support those freedoms?
  • Student exercise: Find your country’s law that parallels with the Article 19 international standard. Are they the same? Here again is the text for Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948).

    “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

  • Extra-credit student exercise: Research countries around the world that have different levels of freedom of expression. How do the courts and the legal systems in those countries either protect Freedom of Expression or help to suppress it?