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

WSIS Civil Society Human Rights Caucus Panel Discussion on
Information Society and Human Rights
Palais des Nations, February 17, 2005, 15:00-18:00, Room XXII
Draft intervention by Rikke Frank Joergensen on behalf of the Human Rights Caucus
"Human Rights Caucus Concerns at this step of WSIS Process"

HR Caucus
55 members: aimed to get HR on the WSIS agenda, focus on both CPR and ESCR.

To put HR central in the IS implies the full integration, concrete application and enforcement of all rights and the recognition of their centrality to democracy, the rule of law and sustainable development.

HR and social justice the main issue for CS during first phase
- a long struggle also within CS. From digital to dignity. Depart in the dignity of the individual.
- link btw HR and development. Development is de facto advancement of ESCR.
- Which is why the whole issue of financing is also so crucial. If we are to take the vision of the WSIS declaration serious as huge effort is necessary to make it a reality for all.

Our concerns after the first Summit
- advance HR standards not only confirm existing treaties, rule of law compliant with international standards v national realities, lack of labour rights, lack of recognition of the need to enforce the principle of non-discrimination, lack of recognition for the increased need to ensure privacy protection in the IS.

Main concerns at this stage:
Make sure we don't slide backwards. Make governments live up to the commitments they made to HR and development goals.

1. Formal commitment v. effective implementation
Political chapeau and operational part
- not only about reference to UDHR in first para.
- must focus on improving life of people on the ground.
- overly focused on infrastructure, technical aspects
- enabling.. for whom?
- the challenge we are facing is not merely to reaffirm existing international treaties, but to commit to actually enforce (or at least improve) implementation of these standards at national level. The de facto status of human rights in a given national context is indicative for the level of development, freedoms, democracy etc. HR are therefore good standards for measuring progress and for holding governments accountable to the commitments they have made. But to make rights a reality also implies that people must know their rights.
-> HR education - people must know and be able to claim their rights

2. Lack of concrete measures
- HR standards should be the benchmarks by which we measure progress and by which we review state legislation and policies: as benchmarks in relation to national implementation of the political goals
- i.e. media pluralism, economic and social development, access to health and education, freedom of assembly, freedom from censorship and surveaillance.
- need stronger focus on implementation vs. current stocktacking exercise
- the operational part of the doc mentions a "team of stakeholders" to work together to promote implementation, under the guidance of an appropriate UN agency. The various UN agencies tasked with coordinating the follow-up work should report to some larger coordination body. Which agency, which stakeholders, role of cs..

3. Link to IG
- What has IG to do with HR? just as our physical infrastructure is crucial for our ability to move around freely and without fear, to speak without being recorded, surveailled or threatened, so is our communication infrastructure crucial for the way we can move around freely in cyberspace. Whatever mechanism or regulatory design, we decide upon, and no matter how we try to separate technical functions from public policy decisions, we must ensure that the result is uncensored and non surveailled communication in compliance with HR and the rule of law.
- Whether narrow or more broad definition of IG it must ensure respect for international HR standards and means to enforce these rights. This is not the case at present.
- WGIG issue papers (consumer privacy, cybercrime, unlawfull content etc)
- many HR misconceptions (privacy as a HR is even questioned)
- need to ensure that HR and the rule of law are the main benchmarks in evaluating and assigning IG mechanisms

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