BREAKING NEWS Sweden to propose expert panel on internet and human rights at the UN

WELLINGTON, New Zealand, Ago 28 (APC)

At the 18th session of the UN Human Rights Council next week, the Swedish government will propose a resolution to establish an expert panel to investigate the question of human rights on the internet. If established the panel will convene at the 19th session in March 2012.

“This is really fantastic news,” said Joy Liddicoat, a lawyer and head of APC’s Connect Your Rights! campaign. “We saw in the recent riots in England how some politicians were quick to suggest clamp-downs on BlackBerry phones and social networking sites. Fortunately the UK government has seen sense regarding this but at a time when the world political stage is being so changed by citizens using mobiles and the internet, the UN must be at the forefront of promoting human rights online as much as offline especially regarding freedom of expression and association.”

Expert panels report to the President of the Council and can make findings and recommendations. “The Council will increasingly have to deal with internet-related cases in the future and it has the duty to ensure that there’s a consistent approach to human rights and the internet across the UN,” said Liddicoat. “So it’s important that the panel’s terms of reference should be drawn widely and enable multi-stakeholder input.” APC will be seeking an opportunity to nominate diverse civil society representatives with the relevant expertise.

Building on the momentum from the annual report of Frank La Rue, the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and a statement in response on freedom of expression on the internet released on 10 June which was signed by 41 governments, the movement for a rights-based approach to internet policy is gaining global recognition.

“Many campaigns for internet freedom come across as efforts from the ‘free North’ or West to ‘liberate’ the South and East. This type of approach ignores the many progressive forces in the global south as well as assuming that freedoms can be taken for granted in the democracies of the rich world,” said APC’s executive director, Anriette Esterhuysen. “Sweden’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs should be commended for their leadership in raising the profile of freedom of expression on the internet in a manner that actively takes into account developing country and civil society perspectives – and looks to the long term.”

The Connect Your Rights! Campaign is supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Joy Liddicoat, APC
Co-ordinator Internet Rights are Human Rights/Connect Your Rights!
Tel: +64 21 2632 753 (New Zealand)
Email: joy@apc.org

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The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) is an international network and non-profit organisation founded in 1990 that wants everyone to have access to a free and open internet to improve lives and create a more just world. www.apc.org

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