Everyone has the human right to express themselves, and Article 13 of the UNCRC makes it clear that this includes children and young people. Part of this right of freedom of expression involves being able to find out information for yourself— so you’re able to share it in the way you want.
People can express themselves in all kinds of different ways, and the right to freedom of expression covers them all. These ways include things like:
- talking out loud,
- posting things on the internet, and
- writing things for a book or newspaper.
As other articles of the UNCRC make clear, a child or young person should be able to express themselves regardless of their religion or culture.
People should take special care to make sure that children and young people with disabilities can express themselves. One way they can do this is through making sure information is easy for people with disabilities to read, access and respond to.
There are some limits to freedom of expression. These aren’t just in place for children and young people— the limits set out in Article 13 of the UNCRC are the same as those placed on the expression of adults.
- People can’t express themselves in a way that would harm the rights or reputations of others. For example, they don’t have the right to reveal private information about someone, or to say things about a person that aren’t true.
- People can’t express themselves in a way that would threaten the safety of others. For example, they can’t tell people there’s a fire in a crowded building when there isn’t.
- People can’t express themselves in a way that would hurt members of their community.
More in the Rights questions and answers section
General Comment on rights in the digital world
Draft General Comment 25 specifically focuses on children’s rights in the digital world, including consideration of how Article 13 applies online.
Days of General Discussion
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child facilitates Days of General Discussion where experts from around the world can discuss a child rights issue in detail. The reports of their discussions are a helpful tool to understand how the UNCRC should be interpreted.
Some Days of General Discussion relevant to Article 13 are: