The fifty-seventh session of the Commission on the Status of Women will take place at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 4 to 15 March 2013 under the theme “Elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls.” The APC Women’s Rights Programme has a full agenda at the event as part of its advocacy efforts supporting women’s and internet rights.
It’s short, but it matters. In no more words than a Twitter message, Brazil made many internet rights activists happy in September. It’s worth revisiting this message and putting in context.
Though Rio has a long history with ICTs, dating back to the original Earth Summit in 1990 when APC set up “communications centres” for the UN, there was very little reflection at the summit 20 years later. APC’s Shawna Finnegan and Lisa Cyr report on their observations at the conference.
“As an international network and non-profit organisation that believes the internet is a global public good, we would like to extend our congratulation to the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association for this work,” said APC in reference to a landmark report discussed at the UN in May 2012.
“He is as useless as a dog” this was part of a Facebook post by a young Kenyan photographer on the wall of a Kenyan politician, Mr. Lewis Nguyai. The Facebook post has since led to the photographer’s arrest and may ultimately result in a defamation suit. Kenya’s National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) which was set up after the post election violence in 2008 to “promote equality of opportunity, good relations, harmony and peaceful coexistence between persons of different ethnic and racial backgrounds in Kenya” claims that they received 60 complaints in February 2012 regarding defamatory comments made about individuals on social media web sites. In most countries defamation is entrenched in local laws and mostly predicated on Article 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees legal protection against “attacks upon … honour and reputation”.
Efforts to mitigate violence against women online can backfire explains a report presented at the UN Human Rights Council. APC covered women’s issues and the internet at the HRC in a special edition of the policy and gender bulletin GenderIT.org.
Major international decisions are being made about the internet in the coming weeks – decisions that could affect the internet as we know it forever. This week the United Nations Human Rights Council will receive its first ever official report on freedom of expression online – and APC is helping deliver the message to the UN in Geneva.