Right to communication: New social media and social transformations

Panelists of the High Level Dialogue. Ms Denis Kerra (left) and Mr Slim Amamou (right) © UNESCO

18 May 2011, High Level Dialogue 1, WSIS Forum 2011

Summary Report


Access to information and the capacity to be able to enjoy the “right to communication” are essential to the realization of greater equity in a global society. That is, information and communication are both “resources” whose ethical usage and distribution create the conditions for democracy and greater well-being. Communication and information are not, however, “givens.”

The right to communication and the free access to information can be impacted by various actors through diverse array of objectives, including political control, technical initiatives, right-oriented campaign, industrial policy and regulation, security, users, and etc.

The global digital divide is therefore the site from which new core-periphery relations emerge and find themselves contested. In other words, ICTs and the formation of responsible cyber-citizens are intrinsically ethical issues and ethics, which has long occupied itself with what constitutes “good” social behavior, stands to inform our relationship to ICTs and our virtual social behavior.

The high level debate brought together with stakeholders from all over the world ranging from technology experts, policy specialists, to users and cyber-activists to provide insight into the “right to communication” and its ethical implications. In turn, this debate offered the means to reconsider humanity’s immersion in a socio-eco-techno apparatus that compels mankind to communicate in new ways.

The whole discussion informed the ongoing implementation process of WSIS and contribute to building inclusive knowledge societies that put the potential of ICTs at the service of ethical conduct and cyber-citizenship.


Moderator: John Crowely, Social & Human Sciences Sector, UNESCO

Social Transformation and the Right to Communication
Dr. Mark Coeckelbergh, University of Twente, Netherlands

Posthuman Aspects of Society and Technology
Dr. Denisa Kera, National University of Singapore, Singapore

Rights, Responsibilities, and ICTs
Mrs. Nermine El Saadany, Director, International Relations Division, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Cairo, Egypt

Trends and Challenges: Tracking the Changing Legal and Regulatory Ecology Shaping Freedom of Expression Online
Ms Victoria Nash, Research and Policy Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, UK

ICTs and Good Practices: Citizenship, Policy, and the State (no presentation)
Slim Amamou, Secretary of State for Youth & Sports, Tunisia. Member of Internet Engineering Task Force and the World Wide Web Consortium. Blogger, Cyber-activist. - His interview video at the WSIS Forum 2011

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