YOUNG EXPERT SEMINAR ON FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
The Young Experts Seminar on Freedom of Expression at Utøya is designed as a closed retreat
for a select group of young experts, practitioners, civil society leaders, and other expert actors
involved in political activism, human rights, technology and other topics that are vital for
freedom of expression in today’s world.
The United Nations (UN) estimates that there are 1,8 billion young people in the world, the highest number of young people ever recorded. The median age in the world is 29.7 years (2019). Numerous of these young people actively promote human rights, democracy, and peace. However, young people continue to be excluded from decision-making processes
that impact their lives and respective societies. In addition, the risk of harassment, execution, and arbitrary incarceration as a form of retaliation for speaking out is increasing for a large number of active young people around the world who voice their opinions.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights establishes freedom of expression as a fundamental human right for all in Article 19. That is, the right to free expression should be protected for all individuals, including young people.
As a result, it is critical that young people’s expertise, experiences, and perspectives are brought to the forefront of discussions and decision-making processes on freedom of expression.
Therefore, the Young Experts Seminar on Freedom of Expression will bring together prominent young experts who are utilizing their right to freedom of expression to influence matters locally, nationally and globally. The seminar will provide an opportunity for the participants to exchange views and best practices on youth and freedom of expression.
Participants are invited to share their opinions and thoughts on challenges young people face when exercising their rights to freedom of expression and participation in areas such as:
● politics and activism
● art and culture
● technology and media
The aim is to enhance young people’s contributions to the global conversation on challenges to freedom of expression, and find ways forward to address these challenges. Key objectives include:
● Increasing the understanding of the positive contributions young people bring to address challenges to freedom of expression locally, nationally and globally
● Highlight youth-led efforts to influence conversations and decision-making processes around the world.
The young experts seminar will gather a select group of up to 50 young experts, practitioners, civil society leaders, and other actors involved in political activism, human rights, arts, media and technology at Utøya. All participants are between 18 – 35 years old with a gender and geographic balance. Participants will engage in formal and informal discussions. The underlying principle is to go beyond experience sharing and work together towards guidance for future action. An additional aim for the seminar is to create conditions for common understanding and joint deliberation between generations on challenges to freedom of expression in the world today.
To this end, the seminar will conclude with a session on intergenerational co-leadership for freedom of expression, where participants will be joined by participants at the World Expression Forum (WEXFO). Accordingly, participants at Utøya are invited to continue the conversation as delegates to WEXFO in Lillehammer 22-23 May.
The Young Experts Seminar at Utøya is organized by Utøya and WEXFO in conjunction with the World Expression Forum at Lillehammer, Norway.
Utøya is a small heart-shaped island in Tyrifjorden about 45 minutes from Oslo. It was the site of a terror attack by a right-wing extremist on the Labour Youth Party Summer Camp on 22 July 2011. In memory of the victims, Utøya has been rebuilt as a commemoration and learning center, where thousands of people come every year from around the world to engage in workshops, trainings and conferences focusing on countering extremism through civic and democratic engagement.
World Expression Forum (WEXFO) is an annual international event gathering prominent experts, policy makers, practitioners, activists, and others with a firm belief in freedom of expression as a prerequisite for a global sustainable development. WEXFO aims to ensure and empower global free speech based on high level guidance, best practice, and high-quality analysis.