[IRP] our proposals for events @ IGF09

Anja Kovacs anja
Tue Apr 21 09:06:00 EEST 2009

Thank you for drafting this workshop proposal, Lisa.  Like several other 
people on the list, I fully agree with the body of the text, but feel 
uncomfortable with the use of the word 'values' in the title.  I agree 
with you that it is important to think through the relation between 
values and human rights, and the importance of values for the 
realisation of human rights.  But I doubt that the next IGF is the right 
place and time to do so.  I am often quite taken aback by the kind of 
fights we have to put up in the IGF to defend human rights perspectives 
- although it is true that these are somewhat under attack everywhere, I 
feel their acceptance in the IGF is particularly fragile.  If we, at 
this point, bring a discussion of values into the debate as well, I 
think we are only going to make those battles even more difficult. 

While we may have an understanding of alternative ways in which ideas 
about values can be linked to human rights, there are precedents with 
regard to the ways in which many governments have chosen to understand 
them - and these precedents are often chilling.   I am sure we are all 
aware of such incidents - the consequences for women, for example, have 
often been horrendous, and, for dubious as much as welcome political 
reasons, are often publicised widely.  The point to note here is that 
the IGF is not a neutral space, and as things stand, I doubt it is an 
appropriate space to start trashing out this important debate at this 
point in time.

I hope we will continue this important discussion though - like I said, 
I do agree it is a very significant point that you raised.


Graciela Selaimen wrote:
> Hi, Lisa
>> When I talk about values in this context, it?s always rights-based 
>> values. If you can?t root the ?value? in the human rights framework, 
>> then I?m not interested!
> So this must be made clear in the text. Of course I understand your 
> vision on what values are, and even support it, but the words we use 
> in a proposal like this goes far beyond ourselves and our commitment 
> in understanding and being open to each other.
>> For me, human rights are all about values - values that we have about 
>> what it means to be human. I think part of the reason why cultural 
>> and religious values are often invoked in ways that ultimately 
>> violate human rights is that we haven?t done enough over the past 60 
>> years to demonstrate how human rights are relevant to all 
>> communities, cultures, religions etc across the world. We?ve shied 
>> away from debates about values, which has contributed to the rights 
>> framework being dismissed as a western construct, and very little 
>> effort has been made to link religious and cultural debate/discourse 
>> into the human rights framework. I think that we need to address some 
>> of these issues head on, as shying away from them will only serve to 
>> perpetuate this disconnect.
> I agree there's a lot to be done in this respect - but since we are 
> aware of this gap, lets be cautious on how we'll overcome it. *A lot* 
> of discussion is needed so that we can coherently present a different 
> understanding of language, especially of a concept that has been 
> traditionally used for the last decades to justify exactly what we 
> fight against.
>> These are just some initial thoughts, and it?d be great to continue 
>> this discussion. I?m hoping that Max?s research will help to clarify 
>> some of my own thinking about this, and about where ?principles? fit 
>> in too. Hopefully this can be a practical discussion, rather than 
>> just semantics. Language can be very powerful, and it is important to 
>> find the right words necessary to convey what we mean and reach the 
>> intended goals.
> Totally agree. And I look forward discussing this further, with no 
> deadline constraints - so that all of us can spend more time 
> reflecting before reframing our speech.
>> Regarding the title of the workshop, I actually came up with a few 
>> options before settling on the rights, values and principles heading. 
>> I could take ?values? out, or does anyone have any preference for the 
>> ideas below?!
> I really like this one:
>> Mainstreaming human rights in internet governance: >From discussion 
>> to practice.
> all the best,
> Graciela
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Dr. Anja Kovacs
Senior Research Associate

IT for Change
Bridging Development Realities and Technological Possibilities
Tel: (00-91-80) 2665 4134, 2653 6890


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