Inputs from the Human Rights Caucus
to the Civil Society Essential Benchmarks
November 12, 2003
Non negotiables - Human Rights, democracy and the rule of law
The WSIS Declaration of principles and Plan of action, should take as their foundations the international human rights framework. This implies the full integration, concrete application and enforcement of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including labor rights and the right to development, as well as the principle of non-discrimination. The universality, indivisibility, interrelation and interdependence of all human rights should be clearly recognized, together with their centrality to democracy and the rule of law.
All principles of the Declaration and all activities in the Action plan, should be in full compliance with international human rights standards, which should prevail over national legislation frameworks. The information and communication society must not result in any discrimination or deprivation of human rights resulting from the acts or omission of governments or of non-state actors under their jurisdictions. Any restriction on the use of ICTs must pursue a legitimate aim under international law, be prescribed by law, be strictly proportionate to such an aim, and be necessary in a democratic society.
The massive disparities in access to information and to the means of communication is a result of the unequal distribution of wealth among and within countries. Like poverty, with which it is closely connected, it severely diminishes the capabilities of people to enjoy their human rights. ICTs should respond to the principle of public service and guarantee equal opportunities of access.
Good governance in a democratic society implies openness, transparency, accountability, and compliance with the rule of law. Respect for these principles is needed to enforce the right to take part in the conduct of public affairs. Public access to information produced or maintained by governments should be enforced, ensuring that the information is timely, complete and accessible in a format and language the public can understand. This further applies to access to documents of corporations relating to their activities affecting the public interest, specially in situations where the government has not made such information public.
Web site and mailing list of the HRIS caucus: www.iris.sgdg.org/actions/smsi/hr-wsis/
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