Workshop #99: Charting the Charter

This round table session explored the opportunities and challenges for upholding human rights standards on the internet using the IRP Charter of Human Rights and Principles for the Internet ( In tandem with the session on Disabilities and Indigenous rights this session aims to:

  • Address a number of human rights – moving beyond freedom of expression and privacy – to consider the IRP Charter provisions for socio-economic rights, education, women’s rights and rights of the visually impaired in the online environment.
  • Provide an assessment of the implementation of human rights standards on the internet to date.
  • Feed recommendations in to the IRP Coalition initiative to create a final version of the IRP Charter (in terms of substance, process, and uses of the document in practice)
Joy Liddicoat, APC, Civil Society, New Zealand
Marianne Franklin, IRP Coalition/Goldsmiths University, Academia/Civil Society, New Zealand
Pranesh Prakash, Centre for Internet and Society, Civil Society, India
Michael Nelson, Microsoft, Private Sector, USA
Carl Fredrik Wettermark, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government, Sweden

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Main points of discussion from each speaker:

Dixie Hawtin (Global Partners, former co-Chair IRP Coalition):

Overview of genesis and writing of the Charter of Human Rights and Principles for the Internet as presented in the booklet form at Bali IGF.

Pranesh Prakash (CIS, India) – Disabilities Rights and Issues:

What is still lacking is

  1. More thorough monitoring of whether, and if so how existing guidelines for ensuring full internet access for people with disabilities, are being met.
  2. Using F/OSS and open standards platform as primary form of affordable internet access and content.
  3. Notes that have to connect high level principles, and progress made there (e.g. the WIPO Marrakech Treaty) to on the ground needs and make them operable.

Joy Liddicoat (APC):

Ways of using the IRP Charter highlights how recent women’s rights are in the UN context. Things evolving all the time, new standards emerging, to which the Charter needs to keep speaking and responding to as new forms of technology are also creating new forms of violence. Here the IRP Charter can facilitate and enable more diverse human rights organizations to come into internet discussions e.g. its provision around right to international order is one that can link into other rights based movement to Charters and Human Rights principles in light of how MS is promoting Human Rights in its company policies and software R&D around the world. Microsoft is taking concrete steps to comply with UN rights, and ILO Rights and Fundamental Principles at Work.

 Carl Frederik Wettermark (Swedish Government):

Provided practical suggestions for how documents like the Charter matter for governments:

  1. Internet governance is a complex and difficult terrain so templates such as the Charter offer an entry point to grasping this complexity.
  2. Concrete outputs such as the Charter play very important role in setting things in motion as governments respond to incoming ideas and documentation as opposed to having time to generate them. A single document that can focus is here constructive.
  3. More targeted outreach can also start bridging the disconnect between domestic and foreign policy making also only starting to be bridged, nexus where internet policy making operates.
  4. Commended IRP Coalition on the work and is just starting to be circulated as government officials exchange these inputs for their work.

Marianne Franklin (Goldsmiths/IRP Coalition):

Focusing on

  1. the classroom and how the IRP Charter can educate at all levels, high school and university in particular as digital generation become aware that online they have rights too.
  2. On how the Charter sections on Right to Education, Knowledge and Cultural Diversity need also to take account of access and affordability issues that are not immediately apparent as cash-strapped universities sign up to commercial internet service provisions.
  3. Specific sections of the IRP Charter, e.g. Rights of Children, Women’s Rights have already been effective for outreach, as have the Ten Principles. Still work to do in fleshing out individual sections in response to changing context in which schools and universities go online for teaching and learning; virtual learning environments now the main platform for accessing and acquiring new knowledge.

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A general discussion followed on how the IRP Charter has already been working, and put into practice as well as feedback on the Charter itself: Points covered included:

  • Using the document in courses opens minds to other IG questions beyond FoE and Privacy
  • Support from the floor to promote this booklet as a definitive version albeit one open to further revisions hence the generational naming (Version 1.1)
  • Questions about “orphan issues” at the IGF and whether these can be addressed through work on the upcoming ICANN-Brazil 2014 Summit proposal
  • A number of suggestions about the current version in terms of refinements and next steps including balance between rights and principles in this document.
  • Ideas about moving with Charter from big ideas to everyday, real life practicalities
  • One other way, and one forged by the Charter is to frame lawmaking at the national, regional, and even the global level.
  •  Some criticisms about whether interdependent rights are not in fact contradictory and so self-defeating, hence scepticism about the Charter finding its way into hard law
  • Suggestion to advocate that this Charter be included in the International monitoring system on whether states are compliant with the Charter’s minimum standards.

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  • more targeted outreach to consolidate success of the release of Version 1.1
  • Integrate Charter into process of the Universal Periodic Review
  • move forward with generating feedback about the Charter with a view to producing a next version to respond to developments and address some lacunae in the text
  • move forward in promoting the Charter to organizations at ground level who need to have template for linking human rights with internet governance as internet access, design, and use become integral to human rights activism, and the latter become a focus online.
Workshop #99: Charting the Charter
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