Global Challenge of Human Rights Integration: Towards a Users’ Perspective (HRI)
Training - Adopting a users' perspective on human rights research
Date: Wednesday 23 January 2013
Venue: Faculty Council Room at Ghent University, Faculty of Law, Voldersstraat 3, B-9000 Gent
Global Challenge of Human Rights Integration: Towards a Users' Perspective is an Interuniversity Attraction Pole (IAP) funded by the Belgian Science Policy Office (BELSPO). It consists of Universiteit Gent (UGent), Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Universiteit Antwerpen (UA), Facultés Universitaires Saint-Louis (FUSL) and Universiteit Utrecht (UU). It aims to study human rights law as an integrated whole from a users’ perspective.
HRI organizes a half-day training session which will focus on adopting a users' perspective in human rights research. Keynote speaker is Dr. Tarlach Mc Gonagle of the Institute for Information Law of the University of Amsterdam. Respondent is Prof. dr. Dirk Voorhoof of the Centre for Journalism Studies and the Human Rights Centre of Ghent University. The training is primarily aimed at PhD and post-doctoral researchers of the HRI project, but other interested participants are also welcome.
14:00 – 15:00
Freedom of expression, minorities and digital media: the methodological strategies and challenges of multi-disciplinary and user-oriented approaches
Dr. Tarlach McGonagle - Institute for Information Law, Faculty of Law, University of Amsterdam
15:00 – 15:15
Prof. dr. Dirk Voorhoof - Centre for Journalism Studies and Human Rights Centre, Ghent University
15:15 – 15:45
15:45 – 17:00
Questions and discussion
Participants should register before 21 January 2013 by sending an e-mail to Ms. Martine Dewulf.
Biography of Dr Tarlach McGonagle
Dr. Tarlach McGonagle is a Senior Researcher and Assistant Professor at the Institute for Information Law (IViR), Faculty of Law, University of Amsterdam, where he is also coordinator of the specialised Information Law Masters Programme. His expertise spans a broad range of topics relating to international human rights law, especially freedom of expression and religion, the rights of persons belonging to minorities and cultural and linguistic rights, as well as international media law and policy. He regularly writes expert reports for various branches of the Council of Europe, OSCE and other IGOs and NGOs and is a member of the Editorial Board of the European Audiovisual Observatory. He was also one of the independent experts involved in the drafting - at the invitation of the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities - of a set of international Guidelines on the use of Minority Languages in the Broadcast Media (2003). He was an invited expert speaker at the Thematic Discussion on 'Racist Hate Speech' organised by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in 2012. He has published widely on numerous aspects of the right to freedom of expression, international regulation of the media and new media, the rights of persons belonging to minorities, tolerance, human dignity, 'hate speech' and various legal aspects of pluralism and diversity. For a complete professional profile and selected publications, vistit www.ivir.nl/staff/mcgonagle.html.
Guidelines on the use of Minority Languages in the Broadcast Media - Abstract
The Guidelines on the use of Minority Languages in the Broadcast Media, drafted in 2003 under the auspices of the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities (HCNM), synthesise and elucidate existing international legal and political standards relating to their core focus. They combine general principles distilled from international standards and programmatic provisions for the promotion of minority languages by the broadcast media. As such, the Guidelines offer a palette of options to a variety of parties (States authorities, IGOs and NGOs and broadcasters) for the advancement of their key objectives.
While the Guidelines have proved useful, first and foremost in the HCNM’s own work, they have also become a reference point for other OSCE activities and they have achieved further resonance beyond the OSCE, e.g. in the Council of Europe. In an increasingly converged media environment, however, the usefulness of the Guidelines is somewhat limited. With the abundance of new media, content and communicative opportunities available today, an exclusive focus on broadcast media clearly has an outdated character. A complementary set of Recommendations, focusing on freedom of expression in a digital age, could broaden the thematic parameters of the Guidelines beyond linguistic matters. A new set of Recommendations could therefore comprise a more expansive, technology-neutral and therefore forward-looking conception of freedom of expression.
This research project takes a highly contextualised approach to its central theme, the right of national minorities to freedom of expression in a digital age. It integrates four key, inter-related dimensions to the central theme:
• Freedom of expression and new media
• Tolerance and understanding
• Cultural diversity and identity
• Linguistic diversity and identity
A user-oriented perspective
The point of departure of the research project is to ascertain the specificities of the right to freedom of expression, as exercised by persons belonging to national minorities, in a digital age. As such, the focus is on national minorities as a group of users that have particular needs which must be considered and respected if their right to freedom of expression is to be effective in practice. Examples of these specificities include linguistic rights and cultural identity.
However, as the project aims to contribute to the elaboration of (new) standards by the OSCE, there is a central focus on State obligations regarding freedom of expression in a digital age (new communicative opportunities (e.g. blogging, social media, peer-2-peer communications), but also new regulatory challenges (e.g. how to promote linguistic diversity or combat hate speech online?)). Both negative and positive obligations are implicated here. As such, States authorities (broadly defined) are seen as users of human rights.
In addition, given that private actors (eg. media, news agencies, ISPs, social networking services, search engines, etc.) are typically central in online communications, their position as users of human rights must also be critically scrutinised. Their relationship with the two other sorts of users is also very relevant.
The research combines focuses on different rights, different groups of rights-holders, different (legal and political) instruments which form a broader normative whole, and it spans infringements of rights as well as the promotion of rights. The interplay between selected rights (freedom of expression, participatory rights, cultural and linguistic rights, equality and non-discrimination, etc.) is also very much to the fore of this research. As such, the approach to the research is characterised by its integrated nature.
The research project aspires to multi-dimensionality and it aims to facilitate the identification of best practices at a number of different user-levels. It will also integrate insights and research from other disciplines besides law, in particular communications science/media studies; political science and cultural studies.
Methodological focuses of presentation
As indicated by the presentation’s working title, the presentation will include explicit, extensive focuses on the methodological strategies and challenges of multi-disciplinary and user-oriented approaches to the theme, the right of persons belonging to national minorities to freedom of expression in a digital age.
The Guidelines are available here.