New Bonavero Institute-UNESCO multilingual Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on freedom of expression and safety of journalists

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A PDF version of this page is available in Arabic, Chinese, EnglishFrench, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. To access the different versions, please click the links on the right side of this page.



Course introduction

The Bonavero Institute of Human Rights and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) are delighted to announce their second joint global Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on the regional and international standards relating to freedom of expression, including press freedom, access to public information, safety of journalists and challenges created by the digital world. The MOOC will run between 29 May and 30 June 2023 and will comprise a series of 5 weekly online modules. It will be delivered in the six official languages of the United Nations (UN), i.e. in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish, as well as in Portuguese, and it will be free and open to judicial actors (e.g. judicial branches, public ministries, public defenders, electoral courts, human rights ombudsmen, judicial law clerks) from all justice systems, as well as to journalists, academics and other professionals across the world. The course will draw on the UNESCO Toolkit for judges and judicial actors on freedom of expression standards and other materials, and it will build on the successful Bonavero Institute-UNESCO MOOC on freedom of expression which was delivered in English in 2021, as well as on similar regional MOOCs previously organised by UNESCO focusing on Latin America and Africa.

The MOOC will cover (1) the general principles and scope of freedom of expression; (2) the limitations of the right; (3) the legal protection of the right to access to information; (4) the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity, and; (5) the contemporary digital challenges to freedom of expression and information, including those that arise through state and private regulation online. Please find below an overview of the MOOC modules, including the names of their conveners and a list of the MOOC guest speakers.

You can access the flyer of the course via this link. We would be grateful if you could circulate this information among your networks.


Overview of the course

The five weekly modules of the MOOC are convened by academics and supplemented by the insights and experiences of prominent guest speakers. Every module introduces and discusses a pertinent topic with respect to the international and regional protection of freedom of expression. Each features accessible background material, comprehension quizzes, and a forum for further discussion on our EdX platform, as well as a pre-recorded webinar.

Duration: The course will be launched on 29 May 2023 and will be delivered over a period of five weeks until 30 June 2023. One weekly module will be released on EdX starting 29 May 2023, and participants will have the flexibility to complete the course anytime before 14 July 2023. We estimate the time commitment to complete the course at under 2 hours per week, so it is suitable for anyone in full-time employment.

Languages of instruction: The course will be offered in seven languages, namely Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

Registration: Registration is now open. The MOOC is offered in seven different languages. Please make sure that you register for the language that you want to take the course in via the link to the EdX page below. Please do not register in more than one language. 








Credential: Participants who will successfully complete the course in any of the seven language versions will receive a certificate of completion in the language of the MOOC for which they enrolled (or in English). Please note that certificates may take up to three months to be processed and distributed. 

Questions? If you need further information about the course, please contact Dr Christos Kypraios (Programme Coordinator, Bonavero-UNESCO MOOC on freedom of expression) at

Description of the MOOC modules

Module 1: General principles and Scope of Freedom of Expression (Webinar convened by Prof Sandra Fredman KC (hon), Faculty of Law, University of Oxford)

Module 1 sets out the international legal framework underpinning the right to freedom of expression, notably under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and provides an overview of the general scope of the right in the doctrine of important regional protection regimes.

Module 2: Limitations (Webinar convened by Prof Nazila Ghanea, Faculty of Law, University of Oxford; UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief)

Module 2 explores the legitimate restrictions on the right to freedom of expression, as provided for in international and regional protection regimes, as well as the doctrine of courts.

Module 3: Access to information (Webinar convened by Prof Liz Fisher, Faculty of Law, University of Oxford)

Module 3 sets out the legal frameworks regarding the right to access to information, with a particular emphasis on the important role that it plays in ensuring democratic political processes and sustainable development.

Module 4: Safety of Journalists (Webinar convened by Meera Selva, Senior Research Associate at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, University of Oxford)

Module 4 examines the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity, highlighting the physical risks that many journalists face, including the specific threats faced by women journalists.

Module 5: Digitalisation (Webinar convened by Prof Kate O’Regan, Director of the Bonavero Institute & Dr Stefan Theil, Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge)

Module 5 explores contemporary challenges to freedom of expression that have arisen particularly through the exercise of the right online, and how existing legal frameworks can be applied online.

Confirmed guest speakersJudge Stella I. Anukam (African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights, Nigeria), Catalina Botero Marino (Universidad de los Andes, Facebook Oversight Board), Nani Jansen Reventlow (Digital Freedom Fund), Baroness Helena Kennedy KC (UK House of Lords, Doughty Street Chambers), Irene Khan (Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Freedom of Opinion and Expression), Jeanette Manning (National Association of Attorneys General), Karuna Nundy (Lawyer at the Supreme Court of India), Judge Darian Pavli (European Court of Human Rights, Albania), Judge Ricardo Pérez Manrique (Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Uruguay), Justice Edward Asante (President of the ECOWAS Court of Justice, Ghana), Robert Spano (Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher; former President of the European Court of Human Rights, Iceland), Hajer Gueldich (University of Carthage and Chairperson of the African Union Commission on International Law, Tunisia), Ricardo Sanchez Perez del Pozo (Head of the Special Prosecutor for Attention to Crimes committed against Freedom of Expression, Mexico).

*Please note that the information above is not final and is subject to revisions, especially as further guest speakers are confirmed*



Course information - Arabic

Course information - Chinese

Course information - English

Course information - French

Course Information - Portuguese

Course information - Russian

Course information - Spanish



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