[IRP] Council of Europe UPDATE

Dixie Hawtin Dixie
Wed Sep 19 19:03:01 EEST 2012

Hi all,

The IRP list has been a bit quiet but we have a number of things which have just started, as well as the IGF coming up in just a couple of months. This email is an update - and particularly an introduction to the new work that we are doing with the Council of Europe on the rights of internet users and a request for your ongoing input into that initiative as it is an opportunity for us to operationalise some of the work we did on the Charter.

Council of Europe - as you will probably remember a number of IRP members have been nominated to a new committee at the Council of Europe on the Rights of Internet Users (MSI-DUI). The aim of the committee is to develop what is currently being called "a compendium of existing human rights for internet users" (not a particularly catchy title!). The aim of the compendium is to enable users to understand their rights and to exercise them, particularly in terms of seeking effective recourse from key internet actors and government agencies.  The work of the committee leads on very clearly from the work of the IRP on the Charter and the 10 IRPs and, at heart, is an attempt to move from lofty principles to practical enforcement of those. It's great first opportunity for us as a coalition to try to ensure that some of the outcomes we developed through our work are institutionalised by important internet actors.

The Committee will be running until the end of 2013. Last week we had our first meeting which highlighted some of the challenges we are facing - in some ways the ToR are fairly restrictive - we must produce a document which is aimed at users, which relies on existing human rights standards and which outlines existing redress mechanisms. This raises questions about how we deal with rights which are evolving (as can be expected we began to discuss the right to access and to what extent we can include that); how we deal with companies (for example what extent we can rely on UN standards like the Ruggie Framework, or Council of Europe softlaw); and of course, the extent to which adequate remedies do already exist. The Committee has begun to  discuss ways we might have more impact - for example by also producing recommendations for businesses and governments about how they should fill any remedy gaps which we find.

The plan is to gather as much information as possible before the next meeting in early December - including examples of rights violations and the entities involved, remedies that have proved effective, examples of best practice, and areas where remedies have not been available too. There will be a call for information that will be put through to members,  this is also something which we can discuss at the IGF. To be clear, we are all sitting on the committee in our individual capacity - but the reason I became involved is to act as bridge between the IRP and the Committee and so I see that very much as my role. So am keen to find a way to systematically gathering IRP thoughts on the issues we need to decide in the Committee and feed those in. If you are interested please say so on the list - we have an option of keeping the discussion on the main IRP email list or creating a smaller working group to work on this.

More information here: http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/standardsetting/media/MSI-DUI/

Internet Governance Forum - is coming up on 6-9 November in Baku, Azerbaijan! All three of the workshops that the IRP is co-organising have been successful, these are:

*         (No.157) Is access to the Internet a human right? http://wsms1.intgovforum.org/content/no157-access-internet-human-right

*         (No.145) Threats to multi-stakeholder internet governance - is it worth protecting? http://wsms1.intgovforum.org/content/no145-threats-multi-stakeholder-internet-governance-%E2%80%93-it-worth-protecting

*         (No.128) Empowering Internet Users - which tools? http://wsms1.intgovforum.org/content/no128-empowering-internet-users-%E2%80%93-which-tools

*         We also have our Internet Rights and Principles Coalition Meeting that is still an open space which we can decide how to fill.  One possibility is to focus on ways of operationalising the Charter and 10 IRPs and then we can talk about the CoE work, but also about other opportunities, for example at the OHCHR, and initiatives begun by other civil society actors (like the Internet Freedom Declaration, or the work the IGC is considering doing to develop civil society internet governance principles). Input into this would be very much appreciated.

We have recruited two enthusiastic volunteers to develop our website (now that the old one has gone down) and social media presence! Stay tuned.

Very best,
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
mailto:dixie at global-partners.co.uk

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