[Geneva, Switzerland, 9 July 2012] — The Internet Society welcomes the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Resolution on the “promotion, protection, and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet.” The Resolution affirms that the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, and recognizes the global and open Internet as a driving force for development. It also calls upon all States to promote and facilitate access to the Internet. The 20th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council was held in Geneva on 18 June – 6 July 2012.
The Resolution was put forward by Sweden and adopted by consensus.
Markus Kummer, Vice President of Public Policy at the Internet Society, commented, “We are grateful to Sweden and all the countries that supported this Resolution as it reaffirms the importance of the Internet as an enabler of the fundamental rights of every individual. The Human Rights Council has an important role to play in ensuring that its Member States allow their citizens to exercise their most basic rights, including the freedom to express themselves or associate peacefully online.”
In recent years, momentum has been building in the Council for the inclusion of the Internet as a legitimate space to take into account for the exercise of several human rights. The report by the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression has made it clear that denying access to the Internet can be a violation of a fundamental human right.
Kummer remarked, “It is encouraging to see this formal endorsement of a rights-based approach for the Internet. There have been numerous examples of policies encouraging restrictions of Internet access without due regard to users’ ability to exercise some of their fundamental rights. The Internet has permeated all aspects of our lives, and this text reminds us that we cannot dissociate the international human rights regime and the rule of law from the widespread use of the open, decentralized, and global Internet.”
The Internet Society engaged in drafting sessions leading to the adoption of this new Resolution and suggested the inclusion of the notion of the “open Internet” in the text, which was subsequently included in the final document.
“The inclusion of the open and global nature of the Internet in this official UN Resolution is an acknowledgment of some of the key attributes that make the Internet successful,” said Lynn St. Amour, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Internet Society. “We firmly believe that the open Internet model is organically linked to the exercise of Human Rights online. Thanks to its fundamental characteristics, the Internet has given a great boost to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly throughout the world. These characteristics must be preserved.”
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