FRA Fundamental Rights Conference in Paris (France), 08-09 December 2008

I am a confirmed speaker at the EU Fundamental Rights Agency’s first Fundamental Rights Conference entitled Freedom of expression, a cornerstone of democracy – listening and communicating in a diverse Europe. I will deliver a discussion paper entitled To Block or Not to Block: European Approaches to Content Regulation, and Implications for Freedom of Expression during the Working Group on Freedom of Expression and the Development of New Media. I am hoping to make that paper available before the Conference. [Yaman Akdeniz]

FRA Fundamental Rights Conference in Paris (France), 08-09 December 2008

The Fundamental Rights Agency is launching on 8-9 December 2008 its first Fundamental Rights Conference in Paris. The event examines key issues and challenges related to freedom of expression. Entitled ‘Freedom of expression, a cornerstone of democracy – listening and communicating in a diverse Europe’, the conference aims to contribute to policy and action within the European Union and to help shape the evolving space for communication among Europeans.

200-250 participants from the 27 Member States will attend the event – including representatives from the European Union institutions, international organisations, national governments, media, internet experts, civil society and human rights bodies.

The conference coincides with the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and is organised in cooperation with the French Ministry of Justice as part of the programme of events under the French Presidency of the EU.

Freedom of expression

‘Without freedom of expression it is difficult to imagine the progress achieved in developing and scrutinising norms and standards which form the basis of our democratic society’, said FRA Director Morten Kjaerum ahead of the event. ‘The flipside is that this very freedom can be used as a pretext to stoke up hatred, incite hate crimes, support discriminatory practices which exclude members of our society and in effect undermine the freedom itself and democratic society. To me the challenge is to stimulate a vibrant discussion on how to protect people against abuses of freedom of expression and at the same time ensure that this freedom remains one of the pillars upon which our societies are built.’

The conference puts the stress on key challenges facing the Union in the field of fundamental rights. It will address freedom of expression in relation to hate speech and discrimination, the impact and development of new media and the internet, the debate around limits and challenges to freedom of expression, and its role to support social inclusion, cohesion and diversity.

Conference speakers include:

* Rachida Dati, Minister of Justice and Keeper of the Seals, France
* Jacques Barrot, Vice-President of the European Commission, Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security
* Florence Aubenas, journalist at Nouvel Observateur
* Anastasia Crickley, Chair of the Management Board of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights
* Janez Lenarèiè, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights
* Andrew Puddephat, Director of Global Partners and Associates
* and many others.

The opening session on 8 December (9:30 – 11:00 a.m., Hotel Hilton, Avenue Suffren 18, Paris Cedex 15) and the closing plenary debate on 9 December (11:45 -13:00) are open to the media. A press conference will be held at the same venue on 8 December at 11:00 a.m., with French Minister of Justice Rachida Dati, Commission Vice-President Jacques Barrot, and the Agency’s Director Morten Kjaerum. For accreditation, please write to

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