This paper focuses on United Nations Human Rights Committee jurisprudence addressing the legality of defamation laws under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (“ICCPR”). It first presents an overview of the treaty’s framework for interpreting Article 19, which protects the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and identifies recognized restrictions of Article 19, including by means of defamation laws. The paper then analyzes the Committee's relevant jurisprudence to determine how Article 19’s normative framework has been interpreted and applied in practice. In particular, it focuses on the application of Article 19(3)’s balancing test for resolving conflicts of rights, and how that test is deployed by the Committee to determine when limits imposed by States’ on the right to freedom of expression are permissible under the ICCPR. The paper concludes with the authors’ observations on how the HRC’s jurisprudence might serve as a framework for evaluating defamation laws in the digital arena moving forward.
GW Paper Series
Jasper, Helen; James, Keegan; Guzman, Marco; and Carrillo, Arturo J., "He Who Dares Not Offend Cannot Be Honest: United Nations Human Rights Committee Jurisprudence and Defamation Laws Under the ICCPR" (2023). GW Law Faculty Publications & Other Works. 1679.