There is growing recognition of the impact of the internet on a range of human rights. Several resolutions adopted during the 24th session of the UN Human Rights Council made specific reference to the importance of information and communications technologies.
A draft resolution on equal political participation, submitted by Botswana, Czech Republic, Indonesia, Netherlands, Peru, urges all States to ensure the full and effective participation of of all citizens in political and public affairs on an equal basis, including ensuring “the right of everyone to freedom of expression, to peaceful assembly and to freedom of association, and facilitating equal and effective access to information, media and communication technologies in order to enable pluralistic debates fostering equal political participation”.
Another resolution, tiled ‘From rhetoric to reality – a global call for concrete action against racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia’, submitted by Gabon on behalf of the Group of African States, and with support from Cuba, Ecuador, Venzuela, and Bolivia, recognised “that the Internet and social media can also be a useful tool for preventing the spread of racist ideologies by extremist political parties, groups and movements, as well as its potential to contribute to development as an international and equal forum, aware that there are disparities in the use of and access thereto”.
In a resolution on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, more than 50 States reiterated “the important role of new information and communications technologies in enabling and facilitating the enjoyment of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, and the importance for all States to promote and facilitate access to the Internet and international cooperation aimed at the development of media and information and communications facilities in all countries”.
These resolutions demonstrate the complex impact of the internet on a wide range of human rights, and reinforce the growing recognition that development of internet policies must be based on existing frameworks, including human rights principles and mechanisms.