Forsskål symposium 2016 celebrated freedom of the press

29 November 2016

The 2016 Forsskål Symposium took place last Thursday. Topic was the importance and opportunities of the freedom of the press, as well as its threats and challenges. Honorary lecturer was Hans-Gunnar Axberger, Professor of Constitutional Law at the Faculty of Law, and in the panel participated amongst others Carl Gustaf Spangenberg, senior lecturer of Legal History at the Faculty.

This year the Swedish Freedom of the Press Act turns 250 years old. It was the first document of its kind in the world, and together with the Swedish Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression it still makes up the foundation of our open, democratic society. The Freedom of the Press Act was renewed in 1949 and protects the written word, the right to publish newspapers, journals and books, and the spreading of information without any prior vetting or censorship. Globalisation and the internet have enabled new ways of spreading information and knowledge, but have also given rise to new challenges for the freedom of speech in many parts of the world.

Hans-Gunnar Axberger's lecture is titled "1766 års tryckfrihetsförordning - bara en antikvitet eller ett levande arv?" ("The Freedom of the Press Act of 1766 - just an antiquity or living heritage?") starting in the Swedish Age of Liberty in the 1700s, and describing the development of law and how it holds up in today's ever-changing media landscape.

The lecture was followed by a panelist discussion, led by Ulrika Knutson, journalist and former chair of Publicistklubben. Participants in the panel were Lisa Irenius, culture editor, Svenska dagbladet, Carl Gustaf Spangenberg, senior lecturer of Legal History at Uppsala University’s Faculty of Law, Anette Novak, journalist and commissioner of the state enquiry "En mediepolitik för framtiden" ("A media policy for the future") and Marcin de Kaminski, policy specialist, freedom of expression issues, Sida.

The symposium concluded with the announcement of the Humtank award 2016.

See the complete symposium


Peter Forsskål (1732-1763) was a philosopher, economist, orientalist and botanist. He is counted as one of Linnaeus’s apostles and died in 1763 during a scientific expedition to what is today Jemen.

By organising the annual Forsskål Symposium Uppsala Forum on Democracy, Peace and Justice, Uppsala University and the Faculty of Law celebrate Peter Forsskål’s achievements and ideas by organising the annual Forsskål Symposium.

Humtank is a think tank for research and education within the humanities.

More News in English