Centrality of Human Rights

Linked with Rikke Frank Joergensen – Denmark.
Centrality of Human Rights – The Information Society must be based on human rights as laid out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This includes civil and political rights, as well as social, economic and cultural rights. Human rights and development are closely linked. There can be no development without human rights, No human rights without development. This has been affirmed time and again, and was strongly stated in the Vienna World Conference of Human Rights in 1993. It was also affirmed in the WSIS 2003 Declaration of Principles. All legislation, politics, and actions involved in developing the global information society must respect, protect and promote human rights standards and the rule of law.

Despite the Geneva commitment to an Information Society respectful of human rights, there is still a long way ahead. A number of human rights were barely addressed in the Geneva Declaration of Principles. This includes the cross-cutting principle of non-discrimination, gender equality, and workers rights. The crucial right to privacy, which is the basis of autonomous personal development and thus at the root of the exertion of many other fundamental human rights, is only mentioned in the Geneva Declaration as part of “a global culture of cyber-security”. In the Tunis Commitment, it has disappeared, to make room for extensive underlining of security needs, as if privacy were a threat to security, whereas the opposite is true: privacy is an essential requirement to security. Other rights were more explicitly addressed, but are de facto violated on a daily basis. This goes for freedom of expression, freedom of information, freedom of association and assembly, the right to a fair trial, the right to education, and the right to a standard of living adequate for the health
and well-being of the individual and his or her family.

Furthermore, as the second WSIS phase has amplified, one thing is formal commitment, another one is implementation. Post WSIS there is an urgent need to strengthen the means of human rights enforcement in the information society, to enhance human rights proofing of national legislation and practises, to strengthen education and awareness raising on rights-based development, to transform human rights standards into ICT policy recommendations; and to mainstream ICT issues into the global and regional human rights monitoring system – in summary: To move from declarations and commitments into action. Toward this end, an independent commission should be established to review national and international ICT regulations and practices and their compliance with international human rights standards. This commission should also address the potential applications of ICTs to the realization of human rights in the information society. Rikke Frank Joergensen.

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