Human Rights for the Internet: From Principles to Action

2 September 2014 - A Workshop on Other in Istanbul, Turkey

Brief substantive summary of the workshop and presentation of the main issues that were raised during the discussions

This session, the first of four (co-) organized by the Internet Rights and Principles Coalition (IRPC) brings together representatives from initiatives that (i) link their work
in this area to the IRPC Charter of Human Rights and Principles for the Internet, and (ii) those initiatives that underpin and develop the objectives and content of the IRPC Charter. All participants have contributed to this wider historic recognition of the formative role that international human rights law and norms play in the future of global Internet governance. It is also a workshop that is taking place in the “post-Snowden” context of Internet governance decision-making, which throws up a number of pressing issues around inclusiveness and participation, rule of law, jurisdiction, technical standards, and the ongoing need to educate and raise awareness about rights and fundamental freedoms in the online world. The accent is on bringing to the discussion
current examples of how each project represented here has been implementing human rights issues for the Internet, for which constituency and for what purpose. We will address achievements as well as tackle the particular obstacles and opportunities that
each initiative encounters. We will share knowledge and brainstorm ways forward. We also consider those sections of the IRPC Charter that need updating or reconsideration in light of the changing context of human rights and Internet governance discussions
across stakeholder groups and terrains.

Marianne Franklin introduced the aims of the session with a brief recap of the IRPC Charter’s provenance within the IGF and its initial aims to be a legally authoritative framework that connects human rights policy issues with internet governance agendas
in a way that speaks to lawmakers, civil society advocates, and educators. Completed and released before the Snowden revelations in 2013 that puts human rights online in the public eye, the IRPC Charter’s prescient role in putting rights-based frameworks
onto the IG agenda has been affirmed by this shift in context. The IRPC Charter has become effectively a global “magna carta” for the internet and inspired a number of formative rights-based initiatives for the internet. A key element in this shift from
principles to action, aspiration to implementation in political processes and awareness raising and education around the world is the IRPC Charter Booklet and the ongoing translations; currently five. The IRPC Charter has moved downstream from the UN space as well as taken root in the IGF domain.

Gareth Hughes – webstreamed from Wellington, New Zealand – presented how the Charter was a core document and example of best practice for the New Zealand's Green Party Internet Rights and Freedom Bill.

Carlos Affonso Souza underscored the formative role and impact of the Charter in Brazil for the Marco Civil process, and eventual legislation.

Silvia Grundman from the Council of Europe talked about about their work on the Guide to Human Rights for Internet Users to build soft law as an implementation of the Charter of Rights and Principles on the Internet. The CoE presents existing rights in the internet environment and the remedies they can access if their rights are violated. They want to develop this work still further, particularly with materials aimed at children.

Hanane Boujemi from Hivos explained that she is using the Charter in her efforts to raise awareness and understanding of internet rights with activists across the Arab region. Hivos translated the Charter in to Arabic as part of the Click Rights, Get it Right! Program.

Eduardo Bertoni from the University of Palermo, Buenos Aires Argentina talks about using the Charter to educate students at his university - students are impressed with the innovative approach of the Charter, and also point out the need to go into more detail
about how these principles can be implemented in practice.

Gabrille Guillemin from Article 19 praised the Charter, talked about the need to build on and flesh out the principles contained with it e.g. as is the case with the recent African Declaration of Internet Rights and Freedoms - an initiative to build regional
standards in Africa inspired by the IRPC Charter. Another example of implementation of Charter Articles is the 13 Necessary and Proportionate Principles - an inititiave that fleshes out and expands on the application of the right to privacy to surveillance
practices; and also work by the Dynamic Coalition on Net Neutrality to develop best practice laws for Net Neutrality.

Helga Mieling from the Austrian government underscored the Charter’s formative role in the formulation of the IG Principles section of the Net Mundial Outcome document; as an authoritative and neutral instrument and point of reference. She urged the IRPC to continue in this leadership role by forging closer alliances with other initiatives e.g. the Freedom Online Coalition.

Serhat Koç, Turkish Pirate Party Movement, talked about the Charter’s importance for framing discussions in Turkey around freedom of expression, internet censorship, and surveillance; having a Turkish edition of the Charter booklet means that law schools, local government officials, judges and magistrates have a benchmark for future decisions and education.

The discussion was opened up to the floor, focus on challenges in further implementation of the Charter:
- Speaker from APC talks about their work to develop feminist principles for the internet and the importance of respecting the rights of sexual minorities online.
- Another noted issues around translating the Charter e.g. difficulty of translating terms like governance, or disability. Notes a UNESCO initiative to build a glossary of internet
terms in different languages.
- An audience member asked about where to next i.e. taing the Charter of Human Rights and Principles for the Internet further into the UN system e.g. to the Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly?
- Rikke Joergensen (Danish Institute of Human Rights) spoke of the need to move from standard-setting to implementation, in particular access to remedies.
- Xianhong (UNESCO) comments that the initiatives presented are in Europe, Latin America, Africa and Australasia. She asked if anything happening in Asia. The moderator (Marianne Franklin) called for volunteers to work on a Mandarin translation,
alongside Thai, Indonesian and other languages for the Asia-Pacific region.

The Session ended with the “soft” launch of the first Turkish edition of the IRPC Charter booklet; the Chair noted that "Print is good" and “Digital is also good” whilst the printed booklets travel from Turkish Customs to the IGF venue.

Conclusions drawn from the workshop and possible follow up actions

Summing Up: The session underscored the following points:
1) That the IRPC Charter is a key outcome of the IGF processes of open, cross-sector and inclusive collaborative processes over the long term.
2) Once released as coherent and finished documents in 2010-2011, the IRPC Charter and its 10 IRP Principles have made their mark within the IGF as well as beyond around the world; in terms of education and awareness-raising, frameworks for national and global level internet governance principles and human rights-based standard setting for the online environment and for IG
decision-making processes in Asia-Pacific, Latin America, Europe, and the MENA region.
3) More work needs to be done on articulating more fully the right to remedy in the Charter itself as well as implementation projects. The knowledge gap about our rights online is closing in some respects but as large as ever in others hence the need to continue translations and outreach for the Charter as well as forge ongoing collaborations with all the projects presented above, and emerging initiatives.

Estimation of the overall number of participants present at the workshop


Estimation of the overall number of women present at the workshop

about half of the participants were women

Extent to that the workshop discuss gender equality and/or women’s empowerment

it was raised by one or more speakers as an important aspect of the workshop’s theme

A brief summary of the discussions in case that the workshop addressed issues related to gender equality and/or women’s empowerment

Gender issues were referred to as implicit to the IRPC Charter of Human Rights and Principles; and connected to the themes on gender covered in WS146 also organized by the IRPC. 

Reported by

Marianne Franklin