IRIS Actions / SMSI / Droits de l'homme - Human Rights

Human Rights and Internet Governance - Proposal for para 52 of the Chairs paper on IG

Human Rights in the Information Society (HRIS) Caucus
September 27, 2003

Submitted as official contribution from the HRIS Caucus

General position:

Since the WSIS process time and again has reaffirmed that human rights protection is a premise for the global information society, effective human rights protection must be implemented as part of future mechanisms for internet governance.

As recognized by the WGIG report, there is technical management as well as public policy issues involved in the current management of internets core resources (ICANN). These public policy issues include a.o. protection of freedom of expression and privacy, as guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The system of human rights protection is built on citizens being able to claim protection and enforcement of human rights by their governments, and if this fails through the international human rights system, i.e. through the treaty bodies connected to the six major UN human rights conventions. Increasingly, citizens also have international legal means of redress. The fact that the international community can hold states accountable for national human rights protection is key to the whole system of protection.

It is therefore crucial that future frameworks for internet governance include specific means to ensure that human rights are respected and protection under international human rights law enforced. This applies both to intergovernmental, private sector, and multistakeholder Internet governance mechanisms. This is not so at the moment, since ICANN has no legal foundation obliging it to comply with international human rights standards.

Global public policy issues cannot be entangled in a structure purely based on trust towards a private party and one government. If accountability, transparency, and human rights protection is to have effect, there is a need for an international legal foundation based on compliance with human rights standards, and with means for citizen redress and holding governments accountable, if these standards are not met.

Specific language suggestion for para 52 of the Chairs paper on IG:

52. We reaffirm our commitment to the freedom to seek, receive, impart and use information for the creation, accumulation and dissemination of knowledge. We urge that measures undertaken to ensure Internet stability and security, to fight cybercrime and to counter spam protect and promote the provisions for freedom of expression as contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the WSIS Declaration of Principles.

NEW ADDITIONAL SENTENCE: "We are committed to include in the future framework for internet governance specific means to ensure that human rights are respected and protection under human rights law enforced. This applies both to intergovernmental, private sector, and multi-stakeholder Internet governance mechanisms."

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