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

Michael Gurstein gurstein at gmail.com
Thu Jul 3 03:22:26 EDT 2008

I'll confess to not being very well versed in the intricacies of "rights"
However, the issue being presented through this workshop is not related to
"expression" (FoE) as would normally, I think be understood but rather would
have to do with the role that the Internet plays as an enabler of
information management/manipulation/distribution at a distance including in
service delivery, transaction management and processing, digitally enabled
action/control at a distance and so on.  I think it is a major stretch to
consider these uses of the Internet as a form of "expression" but it is
precisely these which make the Internet so valuable as a means for wealth
creation and not incidentally for social and economic development.
The notion of a Right to the Internet or Internet for All refers I think to
issues which have to do with the Internet as a primary means for production
and distribution in the Information Economy/Society (and ensuring some
degree of inclusive access and opportunity for use of the Internet for these
purposes) and not simply as a means for communication/expression.

 -----Original Message-----
From: KovenRonald at aol.com [mailto:KovenRonald at aol.com] 
Sent: July 2, 2008 8:31 AM
To: gurstein at gmail.com; governance at lists.cpsr.org
Cc: karenb at gn.apc.org; Embench at aol.com
Subject: Re: [governance] IGF workshop: Internet for All (v 2.0)

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 frontiers."

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
prestigious 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

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 Assembly.

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/20080703/65aa2d43/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