Council of Europe

16 November 2009 - A Open Forum on Access in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt


Council of Europe Open Forum: Freedom of expression and access to information in online (cross-border) environments: international cooperation in connection with critical Internet resources 


Elaborate on the notion of the public service value of the Internet with reference to the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers Recommendation (2007)16 on measures to promote the public service value of the Internet. Explore the shared or mutual responsibilities of states to ensure everyone’s right to freedom of expression and information in online environments across borders. 


• To consider how far any possible right to access to Internet content and services is linked to the exercise and enjoyment of our rights and freedoms.

• To discuss how to manage critical Internet resources as a public asset and in the public interest and how to ensure the ongoing functioning, and integrity of the Internet as well as the protection of cross-border flow of Internet traffic, openness and neutrality.

• To discuss the principles of international cooperation regarding critical Internet resources and access to content.


The Internet is vulnerable to a number of risks and threats with implications for access to content and fundamental freedoms. How can events falling within states’ territories or jurisdictions, which could block or impede Internet access to or within fellow-members of the international community, be prevented and managed? How can international commitment, cooperation and coordination be ensured?

Technical processes and decisions on the management of critical Internet resources raise concerns in terms of public policy including the exercise of fundamental freedoms on the Internet. What roles do states have and/or should have in connection with the management of critical Internet resources, in full respect of international law, including human rights law? 

How can access to content across the borders be ensured? Balancing measures taken to enforce public policy with the protection of freedom of expression in accordance with Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Outline agenda

Opening by the moderator: Elfa Ýr Gylfadóttir, Member of the Bureau of the Steering Committee on the Media and New Communication Services of the Council of Europe, Iceland

Mr Antti Peltomäki, Deputy Director-General of the Directorate-General for the Information Society and Media, European Commission; 

Mr Frank William La Rue, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; 

Mr Andrew McIntosh Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Standing Rapporteur on Media Freedom; 

ICANN Board Member, confirmed. 


1) Mr Bertrand de la Chapelle, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs (France); 

2) Mr Wolfgang Benedek, Institute for International Law and International Relations, Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz (Austria); 

3) Mr Marco Gercke, Cybercrime Research Institute, (Germany); 

4) Mr Wolfgang Kleinwächter, University of Aarhus, International Association for Media and Communication Research, (Germany); 

5) Mr Nii Quaynor, NCS Ghana.COM, University of Cape-Coast (Ghana); 

6) Mr Thomas Schneider, International Affairs Department of the Swiss Federal Office of Communication, (Switzerland); 

7) Mr Michael Truppe, Federal Chancellery, Constitutional Service (Austria); 

8) Mr Rolf Weber, University of Zurich. 


1. Internet resilience and stability; prevention and management of events with trans-boundary effects. 

Questions and discussions.

2. Managing critical Internet resources in the public interest and as a public asset; which responsibilities do states share? 

Questions and discussions.

3. How can international cooperation with respect to the protection and preservation of cross-border flow of Internet traffic, openness and neutrality be ensured? 


Related documents:

Council of Europe Committee of Ministers Recommendation (2007)16 on measures to promote the public service value of the Internet, adopted on 7 November 2007

Political Declaration and Resolutions adopted by the 1st Council of Europe of Ministers responsible for Media and New Communication Services 

Internet Governance and critical Internet resources