Panel Discussion on the Role of Media Literacy in Achieving Freedom of Expression
Statement by Ambassador Michèle Taylor
U.S. Permanent Representative to the UN Human Rights Council
Human Rights Council – 53rd Session
Thank you, Mr. President.
Media literacy and freedom of expression enable societies to be free, safe, inclusive, and prosperous.
Today, disinformation can manipulate public discourse, sow division, and skew public policy. An informed population with a high degree of media literacy is an important protection against disinformation campaigns.
Digital, media, and information literacy empowers people to freely express themselves and critically evaluate information. And it builds societal defenses by helping citizens access diverse media and authoritative sources of information.
The enjoyment of the right to freedom of opinion and expression hinges on bridging the digital divide. We must enable greater access to information and communications technology, especially in poor and repressive environments. Marginalized groups; particularly women in all their diversity, youth, rural communities, persons with disabilities, as well as human rights defenders and journalists, are most threatened by disinformation campaigns. Their voices and contributions must also be central to the global response.
Global trendlines for the safety of journalists and media workers are deeply alarming. These threats have a direct effect on the diversity and the availability of quality reporting. The number of journalists killed in 2022 increased sharply in comparison to 2021, and 86 percent are killed with impunity.
I urge everyone to take in and reflect on the names of the more than 1600 journalists who have been killed since 1993 that is on display downstairs compiled by UNESCO’s Observatory. It is truly the least we can do.
Women journalists are disproportionately subjected to harassment. Repressive governments increasingly misuse the courts to harass journalists and install commercial spyware to arbitrarily and unlawfully surveil critics.
The United States is watching these trendlines closely. Making progress on media literacy and freedom of expression requires us to take bolder action.
I would like to ask the distinguished panelists: how can states more effectively increase information literacy among marginalized populations?
I thank you.