The UN resolution on the promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the internet, passed on 24 June, has been welcomed by IT industry professionals and pro-internet campaigners.
Nicolas Seidler, Senior Policy Advisor for the Internet Society, says the core message of the resolution is to guarantee people’s rights offline and online, and should not be misconstrued as promoting or granting a right to accessto the Internet.
“What the Resolution does, however, is to position Internet access as a key enabler for freedom of expression and related rights and highlights its pivotal role in our societies and positions disruptions to information access as potential human rights violations.”
He added that the Resolution is significant for Africa as it further reinforces the fundamental role that the Internet plays for economic growth, and identifies disruptions of Internet access as threats to freedom of expression online.
“This Resolution is an opportunity for Africa to show that Internet access is not just cables and wires, but an essential means for human empowerment and development. This extends regional efforts such as the African Internet Rights Declaration,” he says.
Daniel Stauffacher, Chairman of ICT4Peace Foundation, whose organisation has been working with the African Union (AU) on ICT-related capacity building, shares a similar view.
He said the resolution is important for the world community using the internet, but in particular for African countries, “where the internet plays such an important role as an enabler and driver for economic, social and political development.”
Stauffacher added that the resolution can help combat the advocacy of hatred on the Internet, promote tolerance and dialogue, which are important for the prevention of violence and conflict, particularly as it warns countries to refrain from “measures to intentionally prevent or disrupt access to or dissemination of information online”.
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