(As much as this article may seem a bit out of context when talking about censorship in the arts, it really isn’t. Over the past few weeks, I have had the chance to discuss this topic with many folks from all sorts of backgrounds, and one common theme keeps popping up; just because you have the right to say it doesn’t mean you should. In the case of the arts, there are groups that are feeling marginalized because content within songs, comedy sketches, album and band names, and an all-around tension and environments that feel unsafe. One side says that this is just a matter of engaging the conversation by pulling the demons of the ugly reality we live in into the open, and some feel these concepts need to be eradicated altogether. This article by Susan Binchy at press.hnmun.org focuses on the responsibility of journalists to take care not to put folks in harms way. Interesting. – FATS)
The Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee has chosen to focus on the responsibility of journalists. When their exercise of the right to free expression clashes with the rights of others or threatens the safety of the nation, countries face a difficult exercise of drawing lines; is a restriction necessary and how far should it go?
Egypt stated that it was a matter of “integrity to prevent internal strife” because it is a country which itself has dealt directly with the power and fear of mobilization as a result of the press. It is natural that that they take such a precautionary stance.
Palestine echoed concerns referring to the Israel Blockage as an example of freedom of speech lacking journalistic responsibility. They propose that we amend article nineteen completely and get a universal consensus.
Singapore took a more of a ‘every man for himself’ approach, stating that what works for them probably won’t work for everyone and that’s okay. They believe the government should have the sole responsibility to oversee publications and employ censorship as they wished. He acknowledges that the freedom currently given to the social media is a problem that they are in the process of fixing .
The Republic of Korea laid out a clear opposition to censorship outlining how they can protect journalistic integrity as well as physically protect them: that the current international conference held in Korea called ‘ Journalist for Journalist’ should be endorsed by the UN, that a blanket scheme should be introduced that encourages and focuses on journalistic freedom, and that funding should be given to supply proper equipment to journalist and well as training. They believe that journalists should be supported by UN peace keepers while in a war torn country, so that they are afforded the proper protection.
The position in international law can be summarized as follows: although the right to freedom of expression does not require an absolute ban on prior censorship, this should be a highly exceptional measure, taken only when a publication threatens grave harm, such as loss of life or serious harm to health, safety or the environment. An article deemed defamatory, blasphemous, obscene or overly critical of the government would rarely, if ever, meet this threshold. Moreover, a system whereby media content must be officially cleared before it can be released would be unacceptable; its harm to freedom of expression would plainly far outweigh the benefit to its goals.