S. The Defense Of Freedom Of Expression Around The World: The Role Of The Advocate

Course Information

Course Number
Curriculum Level
Areas of Study
Human Rights, International and Comparative Law, Legal Profession and Professional Responsibility, Civil Procedure and Dispute Resolution
Additional Attributes
Online Course

Section 001 Information


Section Description

The turn of the century has seen the proliferation of freedom of expression litigation in domestic, regional, and international courts and tribunals around the world. Some of these cases have served to test and advance society’s commitment to a fundamental right. This seminar explores the protection of the right to freedom of expression in practice through the perspective and work of the international advocate. It examines the practical aspects as well as the contextual complexity of bringing, defending, or intervening in freedom of expression cases in different parts of the world and in different fora, seeking to identify the conditions under which such litigation might serve as a viable means for the promotion of the right.

The seminar will examine high-profile and often controversial cases in the courts, but also broader issues of theory. It is built around a series of case studies taken from courts and tribunals (including arbitral tribunals) seated in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas, generally taught by the lead advocate or advocates in those cases. Well-established centers of jurisprudence such as the European and Inter-American Courts of Human Rights, or the UN Human Rights Committee, will be considered alongside burgeoning free speech jurisdictions such as the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States, the East African Court of Justice, or ICSID investment treaty arbitration tribunals.

In each seminar, consideration of individual cases will be reinforced with a critical review of substantive law and scholarship. Students will be given the opportunity to undertake oral advocacy themselves, by means of a series of practical assignments that will culminate in a moot court exercise.

School Year & Semester
Spring 2021
Class meets on
  • Tuesday
10:00 - 12:00 pm
Method of Evaluation
J.D Writing Credit?
Minor (automatic)
Major (only upon consultation)
LLM Writing Project
(only upon consultation)

Learning Outcomes

  • At the end of the course, students will have acquired understanding of and/or facility in freedom of expression law as applied and practiced outside of the United States
  • At the end of the course, students will have acquired understanding of and/or facility in the issues of practice that infuse free speech litigation advocacy: marshalling evidence of free speech violations for legal proceedings; statutory and regulatory analysis; the relationship between national and international law, the importance of factors such as forum, governing law, legal and popular culture in undertaking strategic human rights litigation.
  • At the end of the course, students will have acquired understanding of and/or facility in the ethical considerations for advocates appearing in, or journalists covering, freedom of expression cases.
  • At the end of the course, students will have acquired understanding of and/or facility in skills in oral advocacy; legal writing and drafting, legal research, working collaboratively, case theory and litigation strategy.

Course Limitations

Instructor Pre-requisites
Instructor Co-Requisites
Recommended Courses
We recommend that students have a background understanding of: (i) the human rights framework post WW2; (ii) the right to freedom of expression; (iii) the fundaments of international law.
Other Limitations