[IRP] Declaration on Internet Freedom

Anriette Esterhuysen anriette
Fri Aug 3 18:33:16 EEST 2012

I agree with Wolfgang too, and with Matthias. But I do agree that IRP
should sign on. APC did sign this declaration out of solidarity with US
CSOs, but we were not part of the process of developing it, and we share
some of the concerns about it.

But I think that we also all know that charters and declarations are
most powerful if people feel ownership of them.

The process is as politically important (if not more) than the product.

That is why they keep being redone :)

Tom Risen from New America Foundation contacted me (at Brett Solomon's
suggesiton.. thanks Brett) as he was writing a story about the Declaration.

He was quite amazed to learn about how long this process has been going
on in civil society, about the IRP charter (2010), the APC charter
(2001), and particularly the first (to my knowledge) which was the
People's Communications Charter (1999).

I also sent him Dixie's excellent article in Global Information Society
Watch 2011 on charters.


The Declaration provoked two, unrelated reactions from me when I first
read it, and having just re-read it, I feel the same.

1) I really like the accessible 'ordinary' language in which it is written.

2) The authors seem to be somewhat unaware that often, to secure
specific freedoms and human rights on the internet there does needs to
be some regulation, laws, due process, agreements between governments,
mechanisms for recourse, and so on. The freedom to not be 'net neutral'
for example, can conflict with other freedoms.

Freedom and 'free for all' does not necessarily coincide.

I am not saying the authors implied this.. but the declaration conveys a
kind of 'openness is enough' feel which I think makes it accessible, but
which also makes it sound a little too wishful and naive.

But on the other hand, specific and careful language is not that good at
getting large numbers of people mobilised in a short space of time.


On 03/08/2012 12:30, Matthias C. Kettemann wrote:
> Dear all,
> I completely agree with Wolfgang. The Charter is a great basis for the
> operationalization of human rights, a necessary step after the Human
> Rights Council Resolution. Our Charter firmly anchors Internet rights in
> the international human rights protection system. The 10 Rights and
> Principles are a punchy version of the Charter and still contain the
> legal anchor. The Declaration, however, is a move in the wrong
> direction. It's fast food, easy to write and read, and amenable to every
> one (well, except some outlier states).
> But the Declaration is also a form of McPrinciples; they are sugary and
> calorific enough to make the reader (and signer) happy for a while, but
> soon you'll find that you're still hungry (and that Internet rights are
> still unprotected). Rather, we need a wholesome human rights online
> menu, as the Charter provides.
> Signing with this caveat and with a reference to our past work and the
> need for more (and not less) complexity is impossible. But still, we
> should probably do it, since the basic premise is in keeping with
> Internet freedom.
> Writing that actually left me hungry.
> Cheers
> Matthias
> Am 03.08.2012 09:29, schrieb Benedek, Wolfgang
> (wolfgang.benedek at uni-graz.at):
>> We can support it as contributing to the movement towards human rights
>> in the internet, but should use the opportunity to highlight what has
>> already been done by the DC IRP, which goes much further and which
>> must not be watered down.
>> We must not replace binding human  rights by political principles!
>> Best regards
>> Wolfgang Benedek
>> Von: Ginger Paque <gpaque at gmail.com <mailto:gpaque at gmail.com>>
>> An: "andrewrens at gmail.com <mailto:andrewrens at gmail.com>"
>> <andrewrens at gmail.com <mailto:andrewrens at gmail.com>>
>> Cc: IRP <Irp at lists.internetrightsandprinciples.org
>> <mailto:Irp at lists.internetrightsandprinciples.org>>
>> Betreff: Re: [IRP] Declaration on Internet Freedom
>> Yes from me too. I think the reasons are quite obvious, but: I think
>> supporting this statement is exactly what the IRP should be doing,
>> especially if we could not do the work of writing it ourselves.
>> Supporting the work of other statements/groups with the same
>> objectives and principles is logical and important.
>> Ginger (Virginia) Paque
>> VirginiaP at diplomacy.edu <mailto:VirginiaP at diplomacy.edu>
>> Diplo Foundation
>> Internet Governance Capacity Building Programme
>> www.diplomacy.edu/ig <http://www.diplomacy.edu/ig>
>> *//*
>> On 2 August 2012 11:17, Andrew Rens <andrewrens at gmail.com
>> <mailto:andrewrens at gmail.com>> wrote:
>>     yes from me
>>     On 2 August 2012 12:10, Dixie Hawtin <Dixie at global-partners.co.uk
>>     <mailto:Dixie at global-partners.co.uk>> wrote:
>>         Hi IRPers,
>>         There is one thing I wanted to ask for your opinions on, and
>>         two thing to share with you:
>>         OPINIONS: As was discussed on the list recently ? a group of
>>         civil society organisations in the US have developed a
>>         Declaration on Internet Freedom
>>         (http://www.internetdeclaration.org/) some of our members were
>>         involved in drafting the declaration (and we are informed that
>>         future iterations will point to the 10 IRPs as one of the
>>         initiatives they are seeking to build upon) and many have
>>         signed on in their institutional capacity. Shall we as a
>>         Coalition sign on? Some members have already suggested that we
>>         do so. _Please say yes or no with your reasons by Wednesday
>>         August 8_ and assuming that we are in favour we will sign on!
>>         FOR INFORMATION: Last week Global Partners and Associates (the
>>         organisation I work for), the Association for Progressive
>>         Communications, the Kenya Human Rights Commission and Ford
>>         Foundation East Africa organised an event in Nairobi which
>>         brought together a group of human rights, media and ICT civil
>>         society groups from across sub-Saharan Africa. The group has
>>         today launched a statement affirming the internet?s central
>>         role as a space to enable democratisation and promote human
>>         rights. The statement calls on a wide range of stakeholders to
>>         strengthen their support for human rights online, to extend
>>         initiatives to improve access to information, and to
>>         facilitate effective civil society participation in all
>>         governance processes addressing internet-related issues (it
>>         specifically mentions the ITU). The full statement can be read
>>         here:
>> http://global-partners.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/Final-Statement-of-the-Pan-African-CS-Workshop-on-Who-Controls-the-Internet_02082012.pdf
>>         FOR INFORMATION: Marianne has been working hard to find a
>>         volunteer to take on our website so that we can build a
>>         stronger web presence as a Coalition. More information to follow!
>>         Very best,
>>         Dixie
>>         ___________________________________________________________
>>         *Dixie Hawtin*
>>         *Project Manager, Freedom of Expression and Digital
>>         Communications****Global Partners and Associates*
>>         Development House, 56-64 Leonard St, EC2A 4LT, UK
>>         Office: +44 (0)20 7549 0338 <tel:%2B44%20%280%2920%207549%200338>
>>         *mailto:dixie at global-partners.co.uk*
>>         *www.global-partners.co.uk <http://www.global-partners.co.uk/>*
>>         _______________________________________________
>>         IRP mailing list
>>         IRP at lists.internetrightsandprinciples.org
>>         <mailto:IRP at lists.internetrightsandprinciples.org>
>> http://lists.internetrightsandprinciples.org/listinfo.cgi/irp-internetrightsandprinciples.org
>>     --     Andrew Rens
>>     ex africa semper aliquid novi (http://aliquidnovi.org)
>>     _______________________________________________
>>     IRP mailing list
>>     IRP at lists.internetrightsandprinciples.org
>>     <mailto:IRP at lists.internetrightsandprinciples.org>
>> http://lists.internetrightsandprinciples.org/listinfo.cgi/irp-internetrightsandprinciples.org
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anriette esterhuysen anriette at apc.org
executive director, association for progressive communications
po box 29755, melville 2109
south africa
tel/fax +27 11 726 1692

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