Panel Discussion on Crackdowns and Attacks on Freedom of Expression as a Precursor to Authoritarianism

7 December 2021  00:00 - 23:30

Virtual Event | Organised by ARTICLE 19 | Held in Brazil, Bangladesh, Sweden, UK, USA in English
Contact details: [email protected]
Defending against authoritarianism
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Crackdowns and attacks on freedom of expression are often a precursor to authoritarianism, yet this fundamental right underpins the very practices that define democracy.

The ability of citizens to hold their elected leaders accountable and to express their political preferences, including by accessing information and forming opinions, depends on protecting freedom of expression. Yet even as the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored just how crucial accurate, reliable, and timely information is, it has also provided cover for governments around the world to restrict this right and punish those who use it.

Global indices such as V-Dem, ARTICLE19’s Global Expression Report and Freedom House’s Freedom in the World, the annual reports of attacks on journalists from the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders, and countless other civil society efforts to count and quantify the state of free expression show worrying (TH) declines. Yet this decline is often regarded as a regrettable symptom of democratic erosion instead of the precursor, and so interventions to stop the decline in democracy are incorrectly focused.

This pre-recorded panel discussion is part of a gathering in a virtual forum to be held for 24 hours on 7 December 2021, convened by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) as a partnership of a global multi-stakeholder coalition for democracy (Global Democracy Coalition). The purpose of the Global Democracy Coalition Forum is to galvanize a global conversation on democracy, as inputs to the Summit for Democracy which will be held on 9 and 10 December 2021.

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  • Moderator: Quinn McKew, Executive Director ARTICLE 19


  • Rosana Pinheiro-Machado, an anthropologist focusing on authoritarianism in the Global South. Lecturer at the University of Bath (UK) and a collaborator of ARTICLE 19 (Brazil)
  • Shahidul Alam, award-winning photojournalist (Bangladesh) and founder of the Drik agency and Pathshala media institute
  • Professor Staffan I. Lindberg, Professor of political science and Director of the V-Dem Institute at the University of Gothenburg (Sweden), founding Principal Investigator of Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem), founding Director of the national research infrastructure DEMSCORE, ERC Conslidator, Wallenberg Academy Fellow, author of Democracy and Elections in Africa (JHUP 2006), co-author of Varieties of Democracy (CUP 2020) as well as other books, and over 60 articles on issues such as democracy, elections, democratization, autocratization, accountability, clientelism, sequence analysis methods, women’s representation, and voting behaviour. Lindberg also has extensive experience as consultant on development and democracy, and as advisor to international organizations.