To Ban or Not to Ban Blasphemous Videos

16 Pages Posted: 17 Oct 2019

See all articles by Evelyn Aswad

Evelyn Aswad

University of Oklahoma College of Law

Date Written: February 2013


When the United States did not ban the Innocence of Muslims video in September 2012, world leaders and scholars began debating whether the United States was exempting itself from international law. The Article seeks to unpack this international law question by examining what the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the key international human rights treaty on freedom of expression, provides on whether blasphemous or otherwise offensive speech must be banned by States Parties to the Treaty. The Article then examines the negotiating history of the key ICCPR provision as well as relevant state practice. The views of independent experts in the UN’s human rights machinery are considered as well. The Article concludes that not banning the anti-Islam video was in line with the existing international human rights law regime.

Keywords: freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, international human rights law, blasphemy

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

Aswad, Evelyn, To Ban or Not to Ban Blasphemous Videos (February 2013). Georgetown Journal of International Law, Vol. 44, No. 4, 2013, Available at SSRN:

Evelyn Aswad (Contact Author)

University of Oklahoma College of Law

307 W Brooks
Norman, OK 73019
United States


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