[IRP] Charter Strategy (was FW: Charter of Human Rights and Principles forthe Internet)

Benedek, Wolfgang wolfgang.benedek@uni-graz.at wolfgang.benedek
Tue Aug 17 21:07:08 EEST 2010

Thank You, Lisa, for preparing this important discussion.

My vision is that the DC IRP adopts the Charter by a rough consensus and that other actors including individuals endorse or use  it either fully or in part. We need to build some consensus on the text otherwise it will have no authority and cannot serve ist purpose of providing thr orientation needed in teh field of human rights in internet governance.

Wolfgang Benedek

Am 17.08.10 18:53 schrieb "Lisa Horner" unter <LisaH at global-partners.co.uk>:

Hi all

I just wanted to respond quickly to Mike?s point about the eventual ?owner? of the Charter.  We?ve had some discussion about this within the coalition at various meetings and on list, but never really pinned the answer down. However, it?s important that we all have the same understanding of what we?re planning to do with the Charter.  I?d like to discuss this during the coalition business meeting (separate from the official DC workshop) at the IGF...we need to define a strategy for the wider consultation process and also be clear on our short, medium and long term goals and objectives.

>From my point of view, I don?t think we should necessarily be aiming towards the formal adoption of the Charter by the UN in the short term.  Strong feelings have been expressed by a number of people working within the human rights field that any attempt to push for new rights standards relating to civil and political rights (note ? I know our Charter is broader) at this point in time, the result will be an erosion of existing rights standards.  The overall direction of change at the moment is regression, for example with the recent GA resolutions on the defamation of religions.

However, I do see the Charter having a positive role in terms of soft law ? an attempt to create norms and informal standards from the bottom-up which may eventually in the long term be institutionalised enough to be enshrined in international law.  We?re effectively providing guidelines that can help to interpret existing legal standards, putting digital flesh on the human rights bones.  As Mike notes, there are a range of IG institutions that we?re trying to influence through this work ...owing to the dispersed nature of the internet governance system, ownership of a document by this by a single institution may not be effective/desirable.

However, we do need to discuss this, and also be clear about goals and process of reaching them.  We discussed before about not asking people or organisations to endorse the Charter itself, but rather the process of applying human rights to internet governance.  I doubt we would get many endorsements from outside of civil society for the Charter itself, which is problematic for a multi-stakeholder coalition.  However, quite a wide range of individuals and organisations have expressed interest in the process.  We?ve also agreed that the Charter (at least the principles and the reference to specific technologies) should be a living and breathing document that evolves as technologies evolve.

So maybe we could still continue to present the Charter as a process with broad-based participation and ownership.  The aim of which is to shift the norms, policy and practices of internet governance through providing guidance and interpretation of existing international legal standards?  Different coalition members and other groups could then be pursuing these goals in their own arenas, institutions, countries etc.

Anyway, as Mike mentions, I don?t want to distract from our work on the substance of the Charter.  In the short term, I think our energies need to be focused on giving the document enough substance, rigour and backing to serve as a starting point for national and international IG policy.  But we will need to discuss the issues of goals and process fairly soon, so if you have any thoughts now, please do share them!

All the best,

From: Michael Gurstein [mailto:gurstein at gmail.com]
Sent: 13 August 2010 15:29
To: Lisa Horner; 'parminder'; irp at lists.internetrightsandprinciples.org
Cc: irp-charter at rp.lip6.fr
Subject: RE: [IRP] FW: Charter of Human Rights and Principles forthe Internet

I think the terminology of "people" is probably better than "citizens" which in a national context could be discriminatory against non-citizens.

This does though, raise in my mind a question--who is meant to be the "owner" of the Charter.  I'm assuming the UN (GA?) but as we all know, I guess, the remit of the UN in Internet/digital communications areas is a subject of some dispute and even (ICANN?) areas of "non-jurisdiction" or in other case (the IGF?) shared jurisdiction?

This querstion of course, raises very significant issues for the medium and longer term and may be a mis-direction of energies at this point but it will need to be addressed at some point.

BTW, I strongly agree with Parminder's point about "multi-stakeholderism" (which is in fact a sister issue to the above).  The fact that certain institutions (state structures) are proving less than completely effective (to a considerable degree as a result of deliberate processes of undermining their capacity and legitimacy) doesn't mean that we abandon them, but rather for civil society it should mean that we redouble our efforts to strengthen them as frameworks for democratic action and expression.


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