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Fighting for freedom of expression in China and beyond

ucyow3c18 March 2014

pencil-iconWritten by Dylan Brethour (UCL History MA student)

“Freedom of expression is a fundamental, universal and transnational right, only to be restricted in extremis.”

Chinese newspaper The World Journal. Credit Flickr user Canadian Pacific: http://www.flickr.com/photos/18378305@N00/

Chinese newspaper the World Journal.
Credit: http://bit.ly/1gtFahG

So began John Kampfner’s portion of “China and Freedom of Speech: new systems for accountability in the press”. Kampfner, a journalist and former Chief Executive of the Index on Censorship, set the tone for the rest of the evening.

Organised by UCL’s China Centre for Health & Humanity and Centre for Transnational History, the event was introduced Dr Axel Korner and Dr Vivienne Lo and included presentations and a subsequent discussion by Professor Zhengxiao Guo, Dr Lily Chang, and Mr Stephen Perry.

Despite some differences among the panellists, there was a common sense that no country can afford the luxury of indifference in the maintenance of something so essential as freedom of expression.

While China was the locus of the discussion, all of the participants touched on broader global threats to freedom of expression. Kampfner discussed some of the methods governments use to disguise restrictive measures.

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Still “crazy” after all these years?

ucyow3c10 March 2014

diversity-month2014pencil-iconWritten by Danelle Pettman (UCL Psychiatry)

Dr Claire Henderson’s talk ‘Still “crazy” after all these years? How public attitudes to mental health have changed over time’ began with the unusual request of asking the audience to get on their feet.

She asked us to imagine that we were experiencing a current episode of mental illness and then asked us to sit back down only if we would tell our partners and family about it. I remained standing as I imagined telling my mum and boyfriend; a few others sat.

Then, she invited us to sit if we would tell our friends. I was still standing but it was more a hover as I went through my friends and decided which ones I would tell; a few more in the room sat.

Finally she invited us to sit if we would share news of our mental health problem with the people in our workplace; this was answered with a large thud as the majority of the audience (including me) sat down.

This simple exercise highlighted the stigmatisation of mental illness, in this case anticipatory, that Dr Henderson and her colleges aim to study.

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UCL hosts migration briefing for foreign media

ucyow3c12 February 2014

pencil-iconWritten by Dominique Fourniol, Head of UCL Media Relations

Some 30 London-based foreign correspondents of media including El Pais of Spain, France’s Europe 1 and Xinhua of China came into UCL this week (10 February) for a briefing designed to shed some light on the often controversial topic of migration to the UK.

“UK migration: separating facts from fiction”, headed by Professor Christian Dustmann (UCL Economics and Director of the Centre for Research and Analysis for Migration), took place the day after the Swiss electorate voted to bring back quotas for EU migrants, underlining that this is a topical issue beyond the UK’s shores.

Professor Dustmann kicked off by stating that the briefing’s objective was to bring facts into a debate “that is often emotional and based on anecdotes rather than factual analysis.” His presentation set out how, since 1989, there has been global acceleration of migration, both across frontiers but also internally (notably China) and that if anything the UK’s percentage of migrants in the population is relatively modest in comparison with a range of OECD countries (at just over ten per cent), whereas today over one in four of the Swiss and Australian populations were born abroad. The UK is also among the smaller number of countries whose migrants are on average more highly educated than the native population.

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Media regulation: time to turn the mirror of transparency?

news editor29 November 2012

Written by Anna Donovan, PhD student at UCL Laws.

We should fret less about state versus self regulation and think much more carefully about how best to protect speech. This was the lesson of the Centre for Ethics and Law’s annual lecture on 28 November, which considered the question of media freedoms and media standards.

The lecture was presented by Baroness Onora O’Neill, chaired by UCL’s Professor Richard Moorhead and had contributions from Gill Philips and Professor Ian Hargreaves CBE.

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