6th FREEXP.CON DECLARATION
NEVER TOO YOUNG TO CHANGE THE WORLD
We, the participants of the 6th Freedom of Expression Conference or the FreeXP.Con, organized by the Human Rights Online Philippines (HRonlinePH) and the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), stand to affirm that:
WE RECOGNIZE that freedom of expression is a fundamental right of everyone to be heard and to take part in public affairs that have an impact on our lives. The voices of youth matter as they amplify the voices to defend the ideals of democracy, human rights, peace, and social justice.
WE ARE DEEPLY DISTURBED that fake news, historical distortions, and online disinformation on various social media platforms as well as in mainstream media, are now engendering distrust in reliable sources of information that are making us turn against each other with hate and intolerance. These distortive narratives are clouding our perception of the real social reality and robbing our youth of their national identity.
WE RENEW OUR COMMITMENT to defend the truth by engaging the public in in-depth discussions thru social media or other arenas of public discourse. We must educate not derogate. This will ensure that more people especially the youths are better informed, united, and inspired to take meaningful action.
WE ENJOIN others to be vigilant by taking the frontlines of the campaign against online disinformation and historical distortions. We should fact-check, think before we click, and share reliable information that everyone deserves to know.
WE ARE GRAVELY ALARMED by the continuing criminalization of freedom of expression and opinion in the guise of combating disinformation and fake news but really intended to stifle dissent and silence critics. Legal measures to address and expose lies, must not make a legitimate free speech, as well as personal privacy, become casualties in the fight against falsehoods.
WE ACKNOWLEDGE THE NEED TO FIGHT BACK by bringing to the fore a stronger and wider collaboration with our youth considering they’re a force to contend with to constantly produce online content that can counter the spread of lies, twisted truths, and distorted realities.
WE WELCOME AND ENCOURAGE the different initiatives and efforts to protect freedom of expression and to counter disinformation by putting forward the following RECOMMENDATIONS for the youth:
1. To encounter human rights every day – to learn to respect, learn to care for, and live and claim our rights;
2. To find their passion to do good and advocate for them;
3. To help generate awareness of climate change and demand action for climate justice;
4. To create platforms for online and offline connections among the youth where they can share information and positive change stories; and
5. To focus on our spheres of influence and thrive to occupy online spaces for narrative change.
WE ARE ONE in principle, as we join the global commemoration of International Human Rights Day on December 10, with the FreeXP.CON 6 underscores the crucial role of the youth in bringing about positive change in society and globally by being aware of and willing to claim their rights for a better future.
Adopted on December 2, 2022, at Cocoon Hotel, Quezon City Philippines.