The IRPC Charter of Human Rights & Principles for the Internet at 10: Achievements, challenges and what’s next?

Time
Thursday, 9th December, 2021 (14:45 UTC) - Thursday, 9th December, 2021 (16:15 UTC)
Room
Ballroom C
DC

Dynamic Coalition on Internet Rights and Principles

Round Table - U-shape - 90 Min

Subtheme

Digital policy and human rights frameworks: What is the relationship between digital policy and development and the established international frameworks for civil and political rights as set out in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and further interpretation of these in the online context provided by various resolutions of the Human Rights Council? How do policy makers and other stakeholders effectively connect these global instruments and interpretations to national contexts? What is the role of different local, national, regional and international stakeholders in achieving digital inclusion that meets the requirements of users in all communities?

Description

2021 marks the tenth anniversary of Charter of Human Rights and Principles for The Internet. Over the past decade the Charter was translated into the world’s main languages, has been used by different stakeholder groups all over the globe in their efforts to promote human rights in the online environment and inspired other human rights documents.

The promotion and safeguarding of human rights online is not only necessary but urgently needed, as the current pandemic and its implications on human rights and fundamental freedoms worldwide continue to highlight. Over the years the Charter has been supporting important discussions within the Internet Governance community and beyond on human rights issues that ranged from the right to access and the right to education, to data protection, freedom of expression and information and environmental sustainability, protection of minorities including refugees and displaced people to artificial intelligence and human rights.

This years’s IRPC meeting will be reflecting on the Charter’s achievements and main challenges. I will bring together representatives of the different stakeholder groups and from all regions to discuss who building on its achievements, will be discussing what needs to be done and what will be the main challenges in the next decade an in the post-covid era. Together with our partners and supporters we will be looking on how the Charter can best support like-minded initiatives and representatives of all the stakeholder groups and on strengthening and fostering synergies to ensure the protection of human rights online and to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

The IRPC is always looking for session formats that engage participants and foster greater participation in its meetings. This year we anticipate a great number of speakers who will be joining to share their experiences on 10 years of the Charter and to look into the decade ahead. What we aim to create is a conversational environment where everyone can intervene, share experiences, ask questions and brainstorm. The session will allow great interactivity in the online platform but both online and on-site participants and with good remote moderation and a dynamic on-site moderator in case the speakers and organisers are online we should be able to achieve great levels of engagement and interactivity. To complement the existing tools, we also plan to use polls for guiding questions and shared documents to input ideas and feedback.

Organizers
  • Jacob Odame-Baiden, IRPC, Civil Society, African Group
  • June Parris, IRPC, Civil Society, GRULAC,
  • Marianne Franklin, IRPC, Civil Society, WEOG
  • Michael J. Oghia, IRPC, Civil Society, Eastern European Group
  • Minda Moreira, IRPC, Civil Society, WEOG
  • Mohamed Farahat, IRPC, Civil Society, African Group
  • Raashi Saxena, IRPC, Civil Society, Asia and the Pacific Group
  • Santosh Sigdel, IRPC, Civil Society, Asia and the Pacific Group
Speakers
  • Edoardo Celeste, Dublin City University
  • Elisabeth Schauermann, German Informatics Society /EuroDIG
  • Jacob Odame-Baiden, IRPC Steering Committee / EGIGFA
  • Joanna Kulesza, University of Lodz, Poland
  • Maria Grazia Valeriani, University of Salerno, Italy
  • Marianne Franklin, IRPC / Goldsmiths University of London
  • Minda Moreira, Internet Rights & Principles Coalition (IRPC)
  • Santosh Sigdel, IRPC Steering Committee / Digital Rights Nepal
Onsite Moderator

Minda Moreira, IRPC, Civil Society, WEOG and Marianne Franklin, IRPC, Civil Society, WEOG

Online Moderator

Raashi Saxena, IRPC, Civil Society, Asia and Pacific Group

Rapporteur

June Parris, IRPC, Civil Society, GRULAC,

SDGs

16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
17. Partnerships for the Goals

Targets: SDG16: The session will be focusing on the IRPC’s Charter of Human Rights and Principles for the Internet, a document that draws on existent international human rights law and norms and translates them to the online environment to help ensure the protection of human rights on the Internet The session links with SGD 16 in general as the main goal of the document and the session is to promote peaceful, inclusive, rights-based and sustainably developed societies . SGD17: The session will bring together a diverse voices and actors from different regions and stakeholder groups wit the aim of fostering closer partnerships and cooperation to better promote a sustainable development and to ensure the protection of human rights online.

Key Takeaways (* deadline 2 hours after session)

The Charter of Human Rights & Principles for the Internet has been a crucial framework to those committed to uphold human rights online. Now in its 10th year since its publication in 2011 the Charter has been translated into 11 languages and it is available digitally and in print. The translation work despite its challenges has been an essential outreach tool for the Coalition: these projects often lead to other local initiatives.

• As a living instrument the Charter needs to be able to keep its relevance. Artificial Intelligence and Environmental sustainability are examples of identified issues that would benefit from further development in the form of Protocols rather than rewriting the document. In current times and the Charter plays a crucial role in providing a framework and a platform to advance human rights online among all stakeholders and across the globe.

Call to Action (* deadline 2 hours after session)

The Charter is an important tool for the promotion of human rights online and needs more visibility and to be more widely accessible. The translation projects are crucial to advance human rights locally and more collaboration is needed to initiate other awareness-raising projects for use in education, judiciaries and by civil society and legislators

It is important that the IGF recognises the Charter as a valuable output and that the Coalition joins forces with like-minded initiatives and documents to fully promote and help advance digital human rights.

Session Report (* deadline Monday 20 December) - click on the ? symbol for instructions

Panel: Edoardo Celeste - Dublin City University, Elisabeth Schauermann, German Informatics Society /EuroDIG, Jacob Odame-Baiden- IRPC Steering Committee / EGIGFA, Joanna Kulesza - University of Lodz, Poland, Maria Grazia Valeriani -University of Salerno, Marianne Franklin- IRPC / Goldsmiths University of London, Minda Moreira -Internet Rights & Principles Coalition (IRPC), Santosh Sigdel - IRPC Steering Committee / Digital Rights Nepal

The Internet Rights and Principles Coalition (IRPC) home to the Charter of Human Rights and Principles for The Internet hosted its annual meeting at the Internet Governance Forum with a celebration of the 10 years of the Charter and a reflection on its main achievements and challenges and the way forward. It highlighted the work of the translation teams that over the years translated this document into 11 different languages and its 10 Principles into 27 languages. It also held a discussion on how the Charter can best support like-minded initiatives and foster closer collaborations to help ensure the full protection of human rights online.

Following a brief introduction to the  IRPC and its work by moderator and co-chair of the Coalition Minda Moreira, the first part of the session followed the Charter from its inception as a draft document to the current times. Marianne Franklin looked back on how the document emerged as a collaborative effort from representatives of the different stakeholders who aimed to translate existent law and norms to the online context. The Charter that draws on the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its Covenants was published in 2011 and has been a crucial framework to those committed to upholding human rights in the digital world. Marianne Franklin discussed the importance of having the  Charter available not only digitally but also in print and highlighted the work of the translation teams who have been an essential outreach tool for the Charter and the work of the Coalition as these projects often lead to other local initiatives.

Speaking on behalf of the Italian translation team, Edoardo Celeste reflected on how the team was inspired by the Charter and the work of the Coalition and initiated the translation process of the Charter into Italian as they felt that this language was missing.  The team noticed that there was a discrepancy between constitutional language, expressed in the Italian language related to the digital rights and the content promoted by the Charter and they wanted to bring this conversation forward to the Italian context. The translation process involved a strong collaborative effort with colleagues and students from the Universities of Padova and Salerno and Edoardo Celeste highlighted some of the challenges they encountered, such as issues related to gender due to the strong masculine tradition in the Italian language, which the team tried to bypass by using plural or gender-neutral terms. Building on Edoardo's statement Maria Grazia Valeriani, one of the students from the University of Salerno involved in the translation project shared how they approached the work, which for many of the students was their first introduction to digital policy and human rights and the main challenges they encountered not only in respect to the language as mentioned previously but also on how to present content which is meaningful to both languages. The current translation of the Charter into Nepali in collaboration with Digital Rights Nepal (DRN) was brought to the spotlight: Santosh Sigdel, the coordinator of the team in Nepal explained how the team felt that the translation of this document would be very useful to promote digital rights in the region as most documents are in English making it difficult to reach out more widely. They encountered not only grammatical challenges but also others, such as the translation of political terms such as global south and global north. As the final stages of the translation approach, Santosh was confident that this document will be a reference poison for the lawmaking process in the region.

Anriette Esterhuysen intervened from the floor to stress the importance of looking at the history of this document and how at the time of the drafting there was a lot of contestation on whether new rights were necessary. Other organizations such as the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) also decided to look into existing rights and translate them to the online world and the IRPC Charter would also follow a similar approach. Anriette pointed out how frameworks like the IRPC Charter initiated the work that is now taken up by human rights instruments and mechanisms to the recognition that human rights apply online as they do offline. Another intervention from Joanna Kulesza looked back on the very early days of the coalition and on the impact this work has had and how it has fuelled a generation of human rights researchers and human rights activists.   

The second part of the session moderated by Marianne, Minda Moreira, and Elisabeth Schauermann reflected on what comes next and how to include the youth voices. Taking the example of environmental sustainability, which has been an issue area highlighted by the IRPC in recent years Minda Moreira explained how recent meetings including last year’s meeting which brought together, Human Rights and environmental sustainability Article 4 of the Charter and its clause b) Environmental sustainability and felt that this clause could benefit from further expansion. What to do in this case, she asked, rewrite the Charter to insert a new clause?  There has been some agreement that the original document should be preserved and that expansions to this living document should come in the form of Protocols. This could be a way to keep the Charter relevant by expanding on current issue areas without the need of rewriting the document.

Elisabeth Schauermann highlighted the capacity-building work of the Coalition and how young people are aware of the rights and principles addressed in the Charter, many even without realising that there is a document that they can refer to. Elisabeth stressed the importance of this education and awareness-raising to human rights online and that more needs to be done in this area. As for environmental sustainability, Elisabeth pointed out that this is an issue that young people are activist and knowledgeable about and that followed the Coalition meeting in 2019 a lot has been done by young people at the IGF to address the timely issue.

Another set of questions looked at how the Charter can help advance regional and local initiatives and their work on digital human rights. Joanna Kulesza reflected on how the Coalition’s work and the Charter have inspired her work as an academic, and the work of so many researchers, NGOs, other organisations that focus on human rights and policymaking. Joanna went further to explain how she sees the Charter and the work of this dynamic coalition can provide a framework that could easily be transposed on to professionalised human rights training.

Jacob Odame-Baiden talked about his work in the African region over the last year as a member of the IRPC Steering Committee and how the work of the Charter resonated with him as a lawyer and as someone passionate about human rights. He highlighted the introduction of the Charter at the Ghana School on Internet Governance to a group of representatives of the different stakeholders including the government in a region where digital human rights are still in their infancy and internet shutdowns happen regularly. He also pointed out how the Charter has been received enthusiastically by the community. Both in Ghana as well as in Cameroon during the ICT Africa symposium, the reaction to the topic presented was the same. Human rights issues resonate with people who use the Internet and are unaware of how human rights should also apply online.

An intervention from Andrey Shcherbovich who translated the Charter into Russian looked at the interaction with young people especially through his work at McGill University in Montreal and the importance of digital human rights-related projects in the education environment. He supported the use of Protocols on new and emerging issues and human rights protection and was optimistic that the work of the Charter and its Protocols could be easily implemented officially at the UN level.

In their final statements, the panel stressed the importance of the Charter and its work as an inspiration for many projects and much more can be done, from further translations (into Polish), work with policymakers and judiciaries, to the expansion of topics that are important issue area in the current times and for specific groups, including youth and how crucial it is to work together with like-minded initiatives to advance human rights online.