Freedom of Expression and Addressing Disinformation

Working Group Co-Chaired by:

Audrey Azoulay
Director General
UNESCO, Co-Vice Chair of the Broadband Commission
Dr Hessa Al Jaber
Chairperson, Qatar Es’hailSat

Objectives of the Group:

Within the framework of the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development and its Working Group on Freedom of Expression and addressing Disinformation, UNESCO’s Communication and Information Sector (CI) launched a new Request   For  Proposals (RFP).

The initiative encouraged researchers to put in proposals to conduct a research report on the various efforts being taken around the world to counter the abuse of broadband for the dissemination of what diverse actors may define as disinformation. 

The research analysed the different modalities of responses based on empirical data from all parts of the world, with the findings presented mainly at a level of generality which extrapolates key trends. 

Overall, the research sought to provide insights that can stimulate creativity and innovation in tackling problems in broadband use while reinforcing freedom of expression and sustainable development, as well as help set agendas for future research. 

The study also aimed to provide useful resources for stakeholders including governments, courts, regulators, educators, companies, academia, media, civil society organizations and others. 

To this end, the research included a “gap analysis” through reviewing studies, surveys, and other research about this phenomenon. It should give an assessment of the different modalities of response to disinformation, at a general level, and in    terms of the costs, benefits and risks of each modality from the point of view of freedom of expression and ICT contribution to sustainable development.  Based on this, the study should recommend proposals for the way ahead.

 The framing of this project was founded on the universal right to freedom of expression, and the importance of ensuring that measures concerning disinformation do not impact negatively on the essence of this right.

The Group was lau​nched in April 2019 during the Broadband Commission’s Annual Spring Meeting. ​​


Balancing Act - Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development 2020 report on disinformation and freedom of expression.

Balancing Act

Countering Digital Disinformation While Respecting Freedom of Expression

In today’s troubling times, the flood of false and misleading content is exactly what the world does not need. However, as this report shows, by working together, we can defend reliable, highquality information while advancing freedom of expression. This document is a case in point for the ‘digital co-operation’ advocated by the United Nations Secretary-General. We therefore encourage Commissioners and other stakeholders to make full use this report. Together, we can help ensure that broadband for sustainable development achieves its full potential.


Broadband Commissioners

 Co-Chairs: UNESCO an Dr Hessa Al Jaber, Qatar Es’hailSat

  1. ​Bocar Ba, SAMENA
  2. Piotr Dmochowski-Lipski, EUTELSAT IGO
  3. Ramin Guluzade, Republic of Azerbaijan
  4. Carlos Manuel Uribe, America Movíl
  5. Beeban Kidron, 5Rights Foundation
  6. Robert Kirkpatrick, UN Global Pulse
  7. Dato’Lee Yee Cheong, ISTIC
  8. Adrian Lovett, Web Foundation
  9. Paul Mitchell, Microsoft
  10. Patrick Nyirishema, Focal Point Rwanda, RURA
  11. Joanna Rubinstein, World Childhood Foundation
  12. Ac​him Steiner, UNDP

External Experts

  1. Fabrizio Benevenuto, Federal University of Minas Gerais
  2. Divina Frau-Meigs, University of Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris 3
  3. Cherian George, Hong Kong Baptist University
  4. Claire Wardle, First draft​
  5. Herman Wasserman, University of Cape Town​​