[governance] IGF workshop: Internet for All (v 2.0)

KovenRonald at aol.com KovenRonald at aol.com
Wed Jul 2 11:30:45 EDT 2008

Dear All --

On the question of freedom of expression and the Internet, the position of 
the press freedom groups of the Coordinating Committee of Press Freedom 
Organizations, to which the World Press Freedom Committee belongs, has been the same 
as that taken by leading delegations such as that of Canada and others in the 
WSIS, that there should be "no new rights" but that there is a need for 
reaffirmation of existing rights, notably Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of 
Human Rights.

In this 60th anniversary year of the UDHR, the Coordinating Committee adopted 
a resolution just last month in Belgrade that there is nothing to add or to 
subtract from Art. 19 and that it is time to work for its full implenentation 
in the world. I append the text below.

While I understand the desire to explore other aspects of Internet access, I 
strongly feel that, when it comes to freedom of expression, any attempts to 
"improve" on Art. 19 in an intergovernmental context will only lead to watering 
down its unqualified call for free speech, on and off-line.

It was a major struggle to get Art. 19 into the final WSIS texts, a struggle 
in which pretty much all of the civil society groups took part cooperatively. 
Nothing being proposed here should now come to undermine the notable success 
of that effort.

We are prepared to reiterate the above points in Hyderabad.

Best regards, 
Ronald Koven
European Representative
World Press Freedom Committee


Resolution on Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Coordinating Committee of Press Freedom Organizations, meeting in 
Belgrade June 18, 2008, hailed forthcoming United Nations commemorations of the 60th 
anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and called upon UN 
bodies and their member states to act to implement their pledge of freedom of 
expression and of press freedom, as contained in the Declaration's Article 19:

     "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right 
includes freedom to      hold opinions without interference and to seek, 
receive and impart information and ideas      through any media and regardless of 

While means of enforcement were not provided for when the UN voted that text 
on Dec. 10, 1948, it has been widely recognized by the world's most prestigi
ous national and international courts as now constituting international 
customary law. It was a pledge by the international community to enshrine free speech 
and a free press among the fundamental rights for everyone everywhere.

Article 19 has stood the test of time. The text was prescient. There is 
nothing to add and nothing to subtract. Its provision of the free flow of 
"information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers" made it possible 
to move from a world in which short wave radio was the main transfrontier news 
outlet to one that encompasses all later developments in communications 
technology, including direct satellite broadcasting and the Internet.

Contrary to some later assertions, it was not produced solely by Western 
countries but by a globally representative group of countries. The Drafting 
Committee that wrote it comprised Australia, Chile, China, France, Lebanon, Soviet 
Union, United Kingdom, and United States, represented by Eleanor Roosevelt, who 
chaired the Committee. It was adopted without dissent by the UN General 

The only problem with Article 19 is that it is not respected nor implemented 
everywhere. The time is long past for the United Nations to move to make it 
so. Those countries that ignore their commitments to respect freedom of 
expression and freedom of the press should be enjoined to do so.

Failure to honor those commitments should be treated as a serious breach and 
should be sanctioned by such measures as exclusion from UN human rights 
bodies. The UN system should reinforce its aid to the development of independent 
news outlets everywhere.

We members of the Coordinating Committee of Press Freedom Organizations, 
representing journalists and news outlets throughout the world, call upon the 
United Nations and its agencies to move now from their promise of global press 
freedom to adopt measures for implementation needed to transform that promise 
into practice.

Gas prices getting you down? Search AOL Autos for 
fuel-efficient used cars.
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.igcaucus.org/pipermail/governance/attachments/20080702/af884337/attachment.htm>
-------------- next part --------------
You received this message as a subscriber on the list:
     governance at lists.cpsr.org
To be removed from the list, send any message to:
     governance-unsubscribe at lists.cpsr.org

For all list information and functions, see:

More information about the Governance mailing list