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CIVIL SOCIETY PARTICIPATION IN INTERNET DEBATE IS KEY, SAYS UNITED NATIONS EXPERT
19 December 2012

GENEVA (19 December 2012) - “Civil society participation is essential to ensure the legitimacy of global discussions on the future of the internet. The only consensus reached so far on this matter is that the future of the internet has to be determined in a multi-stakeholder dialogue, where no positions can be imposed unilaterally,” commented the Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue, after the conclusion of the World Conference on International Telecommunications last week in Dubai. The aim of the conference was to update the International Telecommunications Regulations, governed by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the UN body responsible for global communication technologies.

For the Special Rapporteur, any future discussions on internet governance by the World Conference on International Telecommunications must ensure the meaningful participation of multiple stakeholders, including representatives of other international organizations, human rights entities, private sector representatives, including internet providers and NGOs.

 “The internet vastly expands the capacity of individuals to enjoy their right to freedom of expression, as well as other rights. Discussion on any form of regulation or governance of this crucial tool must be firmly grounded in human rights standards,” continued Mr. La Rue.

For the Special Rapporteur ensuring freedom of expression and access to information on the internet is central for the promotion and protection of human rights, and the strengthening of democracy across the globe today. “Over the last two decades the internet has greatly contributed to expanding access to information on serious human rights violations, giving voice to millions who would be silent and invisible without the access to this powerful tool.”

“Global attention is required to ensure that no international or national regulations on the internet pave the way for hampering freedom of opinion and expression through the internet,” warned the Rapporteur. “Unfortunately, legitimate expression on the internet is already criminalized in various countries today, as discussed in my 2011 reports* on this matter. International efforts must reverse this trend, not reinforce it.”

(*) For more information check the 2011 Report of the Special Rapporteur on key trends and challenges to the right of all individuals to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds through the Internet
http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G11/132/01/PDF/G1113201.pdf?OpenElement and the 2011 Report of the Special Rapporteur to the General Assembly on the right to freedom of opinion and expression exercised through the Internet:
http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Opinion/A.66.290.pdf


Frank La Rue was appointed as Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression in August 2008 by the United Nations Human Rights Council. As Special Rapporteur, he is independent from any Government or organization and serves in his individual capacity. Learn more, log on to: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/opinion/index.htm

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For use of the information media; not an official record

HR12/361E