Nordic Day: Freedom of expression in times of crisis – is there cause for concern in the Nordic Region?

23.03.21 | Event
Freedom of expression in times of crisis: Is there cause for concern in the Nordic Region?


03:00 PM - 04:00 PM



What should the Nordic countries do to guarantee informed and free debate, even during a severe pandemic?

Freedom of expression is a prerequisite for the open and democratic societies in the Nordic Region. The Nordic countries are always at the top of the Reporters Without Borders’ annual World Press Freedom Index, and the general public enjoys access to facts and information about the basis on which officials and politicians make decisions. The Region is renowned for open debate and dialogue, including criticism of official bodies.

Despite this reputation, the COVID-19 pandemic has raised the temperature in debates where the tone was already harsh and hateful, a development that is putting democratic dialogue and freedom of expression under pressure. Fake news and misinformation abound online. In Sweden, threats have forced a paediatrician to stop conducting research into COVID-19. What happens to freedom of expression during a pandemic?

What can be done, and how big a problem is this for the Nordic Region and public debate? Freedom of expression is a cornerstone of Nordic life. How do we maintain and develop it after the pandemic?

The panel will discuss all of these issues and more on Nordic Day.


  • Kjersti Løken Stavrum, President of Norwegian PEN and chair of the Norwegian government’s Freedom of Expression Commission
  • Lena Einhorn, author, filmmaker and virologist.
  • Marianne Neraal, Public Policy Manager, Facebook Norway
  • Karolina Lång, Nordic Committee for Children and Young People (NORDBUK)
  • Bente Kalsnes, social media researcher at Kristiania University College and author of the book “Falske nyheter: Løgn, desinformasjon og propaganda i den digitale offentligheten/Fake News: Lies, Disinformation and Propaganda in the Digital Public Sphere” (In Norwegian – Cappelen Damm Akademisk)

Journalist Anne Håskoll-Haugen will chair the proceedings.