High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom

The High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom is an independent advisory body of the Media Freedom Coalition. The High Level Panel was established in July 2019 at the request of the Coalition’s inaugural Co-Chairs, Canada and the United Kingdom, and is composed of leading experts in the field of international law. 

The High Level Panel’s remit is to provide legal advice and recommendations to the Coalition and its partners, including international organisations, for the purposes of promoting and protecting a vibrant, free, and independent media. The High Level Panel also provides individual States with legal advice in the form of legal opinions on draft legislation or legislation already in force, where media freedoms are engaged, as well as amicus curiae opinions at the request of a constitutional court or an international court in a media freedom case of general public importance.

The work of the High Level Panel is supported by the Global Media Defence Fund, administered by UNESCO. The Chair of the High Level Panel is Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury and its Deputy Chairs are Can Yeginsu and Catherine Amirfar.

Advisory Enforcement Reports

The High Level Panel has produced a series of advisory enforcements that focus on improving international mechanisms to enforce international human rights norms.

Chair of the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom; the United Kingdom

Deputy Chair of the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom; the United Kingdom/Turkey

Deputy Chair of the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom; the United States

Special Advisor to the Chair; the United Kingdom


Republic of Korea

The High Level Panel’s Secretariat is the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute, providing it with operational, technical, and legal assistance.

Zara Iqbal

Programme Lawyer
[email protected]

Emily Foale

Project Manager
[email protected]


Lord N

Lord David Neuberger of Abbotsbury

Chair of the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom; the United Kingdom

Lord Neuberger has sat on some of the most significant human rights and constitutional law cases in the U.K., including the ‘Black Spider Memos’ Case, which addressed the legality of the U.K. Government’s decision to refuse to publish letters drafted by the Prince of Wales to government ministers. Lord Neuberger has also written extensively on free speech and privacy issues, and since 2010 has sat as a Non-Permanent Judge of the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal.

He is the current President of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law.


Professor Can Yeginsu

Deputy Chair of the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom; the United Kingdom/Turkey

Can Yeginsu is a barrister practising from 3 Verulam Buildings where he has been consistently recognised as one of the U.K.’s leading lawyers practising in civil liberties and human rights, administrative and public law, and international law. 

Prof. Yeginsu has appeared in numerous cases as lead counsel representing journalists, as well as free speech and media organisations, before a range of courts and tribunals, including the English Court of Appeal, the U.K. Supreme Court, the European Court of Human Rights, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and the ECOWAS Court of Justice. 

Prof. Yeginsu is also Lecturer-in-Law at Columbia Law School, where he co-teaches a seminar on freedom of expression and is Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown Law and Koç University Law School, where he teaches international law. He is a Fellow of the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law, Cambridge University.

Catherine Amirfar

Ms Catherine Amirfar

Deputy Chair of the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom; the United States

Catherine Amirfar is Co-Chair of Debevoise’s International Dispute Resolution Group and the Public International Law Group, and a member of the firm’s Management Committee.

Her practice focuses on public international law, international commercial and treaty arbitration, and complex international commercial litigation. With over twenty years of experience, Ms. Amirfar has argued before federal and state courts throughout the United States, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and arbitration tribunals sitting around the world. She has deep expertise representing states, international organizations, nongovernmental organizations and multinational companies.

In 2020, Ms. Amirfar was appointed as President of the American Society of International Law.


Ms Amal Clooney

Special Advisor to the Chair; the United Kingdom

Ms. Clooney is a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers, where she specialises in international law and human rights, and is ranked as one of the top lawyers in the U.K. in the fields of international human rights and international criminal law.

She is also a Visiting Professor at Columbia Law School, where she teaches international human rights law. Ms. Clooney has represented journalists and media professionals in domestic and international courts around the world, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, and 2021 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Maria Ressa.

Helena Kennedy

Baroness Helena Kennedy of the Shaws, KC

the United Kingdom

Helena Kennedy QC is a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers and Director of the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute.

She is widely regarded as one of the leading criminal and public law practitioners in the U.K., representing defendants in many landmark cases in the English courts. Lady Kennedy sits on the House of Lords’ EU Committee and chairs the EU Justice Sub-Committee. She formerly sat on the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, and formerly chaired the British Council and JUSTICE, a leading all-party human rights and law reform organisation in the U.K.

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Ms Hina Jilani


Hina Jilani is a distinguished lawyer and human rights defender based in Pakistan.

She has represented activists and political prisoners in landmark cases before the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Ms. Jilani co-founded the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, the Women’s Action Forum, and Pakistan’s first all-female legal practice in 1980. She is the former UN Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders and is a member of the Eminent Jurists Panel on Terrorism, Counterterrorism and Human Rights. In 2013, Ms. Jilani was appointed to The Elders, a leading group of global leaders established by Nelson Mandela, which works on global human rights and peace-building matters.


Professor Dario Milo

South Africa

Professor Milo is a partner at Webber Wentzel attorneys in Johannesburg, South Africa.

He has acted as lead attorney in a number of free speech and media freedom cases in courts and tribunals in South Africa, including on issues such as civil and criminal defamation, open justice, access to information, prior restraints, disinformation, hate speech, surveillance, intimidation of journalists, national security and privacy. He acted for the world-famous cartoonist Zapiro in the defamation claim brought by former president Jacob Zuma. Professor Milo is Adjunct Professor at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and the author of Defamation and Freedom of Speech published by Oxford University Press.

He is an expert at Columbia University’s Global Freedom of Expression initiative and is on the editorial board of the Journal of Media Law.


Baroness Françoise Tulkens


Lady Tulkens is the former Vice-President of the European Court of Human Rights. She is a leading expert on criminal and penal law, teaching as a university professor at the UCLouvain (Belgium) and abroad.

Lady Tulkens has written on and heard a number of notable cases that have addressed free speech, freedom of religion, and national security. She was formerly an Independent Expert for the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and sat on the Human Rights Advisory Panel of the UN Mission in Kosovo. She is also an Associate Member of the Royal Academy of Science, Letters and Fine Arts of Belgium.


Ms. Catherine Anite


Catherine Anite is a human rights lawyer and the Founding Director of the Freedom of Expression Hub in Uganda.

She has previously worked in senior positions both in Uganda and regionally, advancing the right to expression and media through advocacy and challenging government restrictions on press freedom in domestic and regional courts. She is currently representing applicants challenging Uganda’s criminal defamation and Tanzania’s sedition laws in the East African Court of Justice. She is also a Mandela Washington Fellow.

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The Honourable Irwin Cotler, PC, OC, OQ


The Honourable Irwin Cotler is a former Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of Canada, who made the pursuit of international justice a priority.

He is a noted expert on international and human rights law, having intervened in landmark Canadian Supreme Court cases on freedom of expression, and serving as counsel to a number of prisoners of conscience, including Nelson Mandela, Saad Eddin Ibrahim, Liu Xiaobo, and Raif Badawi. He is the Chair of the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights and an Emeritus Professor of Law at McGill University. As a Member of Parliament, Mr. Cotler chaired the Inter-Parliamentary Groups for Human Rights in Iran and Justice for Sergei Magnitsky, and the Canadian section of the Parliamentarians for Global Action.

In 2020, Mr. Cotler was appointed Canada’s Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Antisemitism.


Mr Nadim Houry


Mr. Houry is the Executive Director of the Arab Reform Initiative, a leading think-tank working on democratic reforms in the Middle East & North Africa (MENA).

He is an experienced human rights lawyer who worked for 13 years at Human Rights Watch, including as deputy director of the MENA division and later as director of the Terrorism and Counterterrorism Program. He has written on a wide range of issues related to freedom of expression, including following the cases of numerous arrested bloggers and journalists as well as highlighting free speech restrictions imposed in the name of fighting terrorism.

Manuel Jose Cepeda

Justice Manuel José Cepeda Espinosa


Justice Cepeda is the former Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court of Colombia, where he gave judgment in landmark freedom of expression and media cases before the Court.

He also served as the Presidential Advisor for the Constituent Assembly of Colombia, preparing the articles that addressed freedom of expression and access to information in Colombia’s Draft Constitution. Justice Cepeda is President Emeritus of the International Association of Constitutional Law, and was part of the transitional justice group of experts that negotiated the peace agreement with the FARC guerrilla.

Chile Eboe-Osuji

Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji


Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji is the former President of the International Criminal Court (ICC), serving from 2018-2021.

During his term as President, he also served as a Judge in the Appeals Chamber of the Court until April 2021. He now serves as Distinguished International Jurist and a Special Adviser to the President of the Ryerson University Faculty of Law, Ontario, Canada, and as Visiting Professor at Stanford University Law School.

Prior to joining the ICC, Judge Eboe-Osuji served as the Legal Advisor to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Marietje Schaake

Ms Marietje Schaake


Marietje Schaake is international policy director at Stanford University Cyber Policy Center and international policy fellow at Stanford’s Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence. Between 2009 and 2019, Marietje served as a Member of European Parliament for the Dutch liberal democratic party where she focused on trade, foreign affairs, and technology policies.

Marietje is and (Advisory) Board Member with a number of non-profits including MERICS, ECFR, ORF and AccessNow. She writes a monthly column for the Financial Times and a bi-weekly column for the Dutch NRC newspaper.

Seong-Phil Hong

Professor Seong-Phil Hong

Republic of Korea

Professor Seong-Phil Hong, from the Republic of Korea, was a Member of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, from 2014-2021.

Since 1995, he has taught International Law and Human Rights at Ewha and Yonsei Law Schools.

sarah cleveland

Professor Sarah Cleveland

the United States

Sarah Cleveland is the Louis Henkin Professor of Human and Constitutional Rights, and the faculty Co- Director of the Human Rights Institute, at Columbia Law School.

She is a noted expert in the areas of human rights, national security, international law and U.S. foreign relations. She is a commissioner with the International Commission of Jurists and served as the Vice Chair of the UN Human Rights Committee and as the U.S. Independent Expert to the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe. From 2009 to 2011, Professor Cleveland was Counselor on International Law to the Legal Adviser at the U.S. State Department and in August 2021, Professor Cleveland was appointed as Legal Adviser at the U.S. State Department.

Galina Arapova

Ms Galina Arapova


Galina Arapova is the director and senior media lawyer at Mass Media Defence Centre in Russia.

She has advised on many cases addressing defamation and freedom of expression before the Russian courts and the European Court of Human Rights. Ms. Arapova is a trustee of ARTICLE 19 and trustee of European Center for Press and Media Freedom and has advised the Council of Europe’s HELP program. She is also media law expert at the Swedish FOJO Media Institute, and is a member of the UNESCO Chair on Copyright and Other Intellectual Property Rights at the Russian State University “Higher School of Economics”. She teaches Internet and media law at the School of Journalism of Voronezh State University.


Professor Kyung-Sin Park

Republic of Korea

Professor Park is a faculty member at the Korea University School of Law and a co-founder and director of Open Net Korea, where he specialises in freedom of expression and media monopolisation issues, and the enforcement of privacy, defamation and “fake news” laws.

He serves as an academic board member of the Global Network Initiative and is an advisor to the Freedom Online Coalition. Professor Park has also served as legal advisor to the Korea Film Council and the Ministry of Culture, as a member of the National Media Council advising the country’s legislator, and as a commissioner of the Korean Communication Standards Commission regulating the country’s broadcasting and online media.


Judge Robert D. Sack

the United States

Robert D. Sack has, since August 6, 1998, been a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit with his chambers at 40 Foley Square.

During his 33 years in practice, he specialized in national and international press law. He was a frequent lecturer and writer on press law topics and is the author of Sack On Defamation: Libel, Slander, And Related Problems. On May 1, 2008, Judge Sack was awarded the Federal Bar Council’s Learned Hand Medal for excellence in federal jurisprudence.

Judge Sack was an officer and director of the William F. Kerby and Robert S. Potter Fund, which assisted in funding the legal defense of journalists abroad, and a member of the advisory boards of the Bureau of National Affairs’ Media Law Reporter and the ABA Forum Committee’s Communications Lawyer. He is a member of the Board of Visitors of the Columbia Law School and was a member of the Board of Trustees of Columbia University Seminars on Media and Society. He has, since 2001, been an Adjunct Professor of Law at Columbia Law School.

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