Chief among his formula for a free world was freedom of expression and speech. He formulated what he referred to as a “world founded upon four essential human freedoms. ” Roosevelt identified four freedoms which were listed as freedom of religion, freedom of expression and speech, freedom from fear and want. He further maintained that his vision was for: “…definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our time and generation. ” This is the vision shared by the United Nations in its drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Be that as it may, until the world at large shares this vision freedom of expression will continue to be a misnomer on an international level. It goes without saying however, that Roosevelt’s four pillars of freedom are a good starting point for domestic governments when deciding how to govern the people under their command. Freedom from fear encompasses freedom of expression. As previously noted, freedom of expression is intrinsically linked to other fundamental freedoms.
Without it, civil liberties are virtually non-existent. In the words of Zechariah Chafee, Freedom of speech “means liberty, not license. ” In exercising the right to free expression and free speech the individual has a residual duty to safeguard against interference with social order. He or she is also minded to take account of moral values, education and how freedom of expression impacts upon the youth. A line has to be drawn between sedition and civil liberties.
Until the lines are clearly defined and the world at large can agree on those lines, freedom of speech will mean different things to different nations and will be governed according to a particular government’s own domestic agenda rather than on international standards of civility. Chafee explains how international cohesion on the issue of free speech can be achieved. Governments and their people are required to realize that: “Argument on one side and argument on the other is the best way that we have on earth to bring about truth.
Once force is thrown into the scale, once the pressure of government is used on one side or the other, it becomes simply a matter of chance on which side it is use, and then the natural ability to decide the matter by argument is altogether gone. ” Conclusion Freedom of speech and expression are therefore key elements for the maintaining of liberal and free society. On an international level, free speech is connected to broader liberties and promotes the free flow of information and ideas.
However, it is also recognized that free speech and expression cannot be an absolute right since the careless and reckless expression of thoughts and ideas have the capacity to override national security and other fundamental rights of individuals. It is therefore a right which can only be exercised conscientiously and responsibly for the greater good of mankind. Harmony of laws among nations of the world has proven to be difficult to achieve. International Treaties such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights can only go so far as to set guidelines for Member States to follow.
Unless a Member State implements these guidelines, there is no such thing as an internationally binding law on in respect of freedom of speech. The best that can be achieved is harmony through similar domestic laws. If the trend continues where more and more countries are beginning to accept and implement laws that reflect the United Nations’ concept of freedom of speech as provided for via Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, free speech will eventually become an international concept. Works Cited Altschull, J. Herbert.
Agents of Power: The Media and Public Policy. New York: Longman, 1995 Baker, Edwin. Human Liberty and Freedom of Speech. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989 Chafee, Zechariah. Freedom of Speech. Harcourt, Brace and Howe, 1920 Committee to Protect Journalists available online at www. cpj. org Retrieved November 6, 2007 “Compulsory Membership in an Association Prescribed by Law for the Practice of Journalism. ” Advisory Opinion OC-5/85 of 13 Nov. 1985 Series A. No. 5 Castells v. Spain, 24 April 1992, Application No. 11798/85, 14 EHRR 445 European Convention on Human Rights 1950