[IRP] My opinion

Dixie Hawtin Dixie
Thu Nov 18 19:22:40 EET 2010

Hi all,

There haven't been any replies yet about the "objectives and nature of the Charter", so I thought that if I state my own opinions it may provoke someone to disagree (or even agree!) with me.

The more I look at the Charter the more I feel like we are trying to achieve two quite different things in the same document - on the one hand we are writing an advocacy document and trying to promote a particular and very progressive interpretation of human rights. On the other hand we are trying to write a reference document which is as comprehensive as possible and it doesn't matter that we are repetitive, nuanced, meandering etc. I think that both of these aims are very important and can be achieved through the Charter process, but I think they should be separated out so that the documents are more coherent and so much stronger.

I feel that the Charter should be structured in a slightly different way. I think that when we talk about "the Charter" we should be referring to just the first section (i.e. rights and principles) and that this should be strong and definite and read like a manifesto. Then, I think two/three other documents are needed to back it   up (which form a "family" of documents):

1. What is currently section two, a document outlining the roles and responsibilities of all actors in relation to the Charter right/principles

2. An explanatory document which lists all the sources of the provisions in the Charter and states the arguments behind what we have chosen to include (here you would find ALL sources, e.g. international, regional, non-human rights documents such as WTO or WIPO docs, national document e.g. Brazilian principles, documents from other groups e.g. EFF principles etc). This would be very useful as a reference tool.

3. A user friendly version, although I would hope that the Charter could be made simple and clear enough that a user-friendly document wouldn't be necessary.

With "The Charter" in my opinion we are operating within the framework of existing human rights, and everything we state must be drawn back to an existing human right, but we can be as progressive as we like within those boundaries. The authority for our arguments comes from outside documents where they back up our arguments, but to a greater extent comes from the large amount of knowledge we contain within the Coalition on the internet and human rights, together with our extensive consultation process.

However, given that "The Charter" should be (in my opinion) predominately an advocacy document, I think we need to be precise, concise and use strong language. I have examples, but I don't want to give everyone to much to read! Here are just a couple:

-I think some of our provisions are quite weak and should be removed (although very few of them are in this category, one example is this: "the Internet [must be use] for the protection of the environment" (nb, I am not proposing that we remove mention of ewaste)

-I think some of our provisions are repetitive and only one is necessary, for example the article on right to associations contains both of these sentences where I feel only one is needed

*         Everyone has the right to form, join, meet or visit the website or network of an assembly, group or association for any reason, including political and social.

*         Everyone has the freedom to establish or join online communities.
-I believe we should use powerful language e.g. not "Cultural and linguistic diversity on the Internet shall be encouraged in the form of text, images and sound" as it is at present, but, "Cultural and linguistic diversity on the Internet must be realized".

I look forward to hearing people's thoughts on this.
All the best,
Dixie Hawtin
Researcher Global Partners and Associates
338 City Road, London, EC1V 2PY, UK
Office: + 44 207 239 8251     Mobile: +44 7769 181 556
dixie at global-partners.co.uk<mailto:lisa at global-partners.co.uk>  www.global-partners.co.uk<http://www.global-partners.co.uk/>

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