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Wednesday, February 23
Free Speech Is A Human Right
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Free speech is the underpinning of a free society; without it, the defense of human rights and resistance against oppression are impossible. Yet in democracies and autocracies alike, attacks on expression have grown at a startling rate in recent years, limiting the ability of individuals to speak their minds, engage in uncensored dialogue, and hold their leaders to account. This session will focus on how populism and polarization have affected free speech in countries around the world, and explore how international advocacy can support and defend the brave individuals who speak out, challenge tyranny, defend the truth, and make the case for freedom.
Nicholas Perez, Manager for Free Expression and Education, PEN America
Guest Speaker Bio:
Nicholas “Niko” Perez (he/him/his) is the Manager for Free Expression and Education, PEN America. He supports PEN America’s advocacy, analysis, and outreach in the national debate around free speech and inclusion in higher education. Perez previously worked for the Columbia University Human Rights Advocates Program and consulted for the Human Rights Education and Training Section at the United Nations. He holds a master’s degree from Columbia University in human rights and humanitarian policy and a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University in international politics. He also was a Global Leadership Fellow at Waseda University in Japan, a Model United Nations advisor at Mira Costa High School, and a forensics researcher for the Yahad-in Unum Genocide Research Agency.
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