IGF 2018 WS #447 Human Rights online must be protected... what next?

Format: 

Panel - 60 Min

Organizer 1: Florence Poznanski, Internet Without Borders
Organizer 2: Peter Micek, Access Now

Speaker 1: David Kaye, Intergovernmental Organization, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Melody Patry, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Bertrand Levant, Intergovernmental Organization, Intergovernmental Organization

Relevance: 

Despite increasing International condemnations, network disruptions have in the past two years become a trigger easy to pull to silence dissenting voices, quash public demonstrations, and hide other human rights violations.

Network disruptions have been at the center of many preoccupations during the 2017 IGF in Geneva. The 2018 IGF in France should continue the conversation on how to limit the number and the effects of network disruptions, hich are a serious hindrance to a healthy, empowering, and profitable digital economy.

Session Content: 

Two years after the adoption of resolution A.HRC / 32 / L.020 by the UN Human Rights Council, and the condemnation of violations of the exercise of human rights online, the situation is worrying.

The number of voluntary or partial Internet shutdowns has grown exponentially, from 74 in 2016 to 104 in 2017. As a result, an increasing number of states are depriving their citizens of the fundamental freedom to express and communicate on the Internet, and open the way to the violation of other fundamental rights, such as the right to physical integrity, freedom of association. Network disruptions have this specificity that they prevent the enjoyment of human rights online, and cover other human rights violations.

The contrast between the firm resolution adopted in 2016 and the increase in the number of cases of deliberate disruption of the Internet brings to light, with a new acuity in view of the digital space, the question on the binding nature of international law and its application. While states have primary responsibility to respect international law, governmental organizations, where International norms are produced, have a role to play.

How do these organizations ensure today that international law is respected also when it comes to human rights on the Internet? What mechanisms do they have at their disposal to convince States to respect the rules they have set themselves at the international level?

Interventions: 

Introduction by the moderator

Part 1. What are International Organizations doing to ensure that their norms on Human Rights online are respected?

David A. Kaye (USA), UN Special rapporteur on Freedom of expression, will explain the work that he has done in the past years to question Governments, which have disrupted the Internet, and remind them of their international obligations regarding human rights online.

Bertrand Levant (France), Direction of Political Affairs, and democratic governance at the International Organisation of Francophony will highlight the work of his organization in ensuring that Human Rights online are respected in the francophone space, especially in electoral contexts.

Part 2. Should civil society organizations involve International organizations working on other aspects of International law?

Melody Patry (France), Advocacy Director at Access Now, will explain the current work of her organizations to help victims of Internet shutdowns seek justice, and will explore how International judicial organizations can be involved in the protection of Freedom of expression online.

Juliet Nankufa (Uganda works at CIPESA. Her organization published in 2017 a report on the economic impact of Internet shutdowns. We will explore with her if and how financial institutions should be involved in the fight against ,network disruptions.

Diversity: 

The proposed panel is mostly equally compsed of male and female speakers, from various
countries and regions of the world:

France, Uganda, USA.

The moderator is Cameroonian.

Online Participation: 

Remote participation will be facilitated by the
remote moderator who will frequently communicate with the remote moderator
throughout the session to ensure remote participants’ views/questions are
reflected. The workshop will be promoted in advance and during the IGF on
Internet Sans Frontières’ website and via the Keepiton list, which gathers more than 150 organizations worldwide fighting network disruptions.

Discussion Facilitation: 

The moderator will set the stage by providing a context to the panel and will make sure all the different perspectives are
represented throughout the discussions. The panel is structured around two main points: overview of current practices by International organizations to ensure that Human rights online are respected and how to include other specialized International organizations. After each round of answers, the
moderator will open the floor for comments and questions from the audience
(onsite and remote) and sum up the viewpoints received. Conclusions will be
presented by the moderator.

Onsite Moderator: 

Julie Owono

Online Moderator: 

Florence Poznanski

Rapporteur: 

Julie Owono

Contact Information

United Nations
Secretariat of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)

Villa Le Bocage
Palais des Nations,
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland

igf [at] un [dot] org
+41 (0) 229 173 678