05.12.2016 - UNESCO Montevideo Office

UNESCO launches its publication on Internet and Freedom of Expression

Today, 5th December 2016 in Guadalajara Mexico, the Communication and Information Sector of the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Sciences for Latin America and the Caribbean launched the Internet and freedom of expression electronic publication.

The publication is the 6th edition of UNESCO's Communication and Information Discussion Notebooks  (Cuadernos de Discusión de Comunicación e Información). The launch was held within the framework of the 2016 Internet Governance Forum (IGF): ‘Enabling Inclusive and Sustainable Growth’ (6 - 9 December 2016 in Guadalajara, Mexico).

The event was coordinated by the UNESCO Montevideo Office, the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and by the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression of the United Nations, with the support of the DEMOS Institute and the Ford Foundation.

The publication was drafted by widely acclaimed expert on this subject, Andrew Puddephatt (*), the paper raises unavoidable questions about humanity’s ability to continue protecting and promoting human rights as defined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of 1948.

"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; This right includes not to be disturbed by their opinions, to investigate and receive information and opinions, and to disseminate them, without limitation of frontiers, by any means of expression. "

within the framework of the current scenario of changes in political, social, cultural, and economic global landscapes.

For the editors, the minds behind the Declaration were not limited to the communication technologies available at the time of the drafting and approval of this fundamental document. Instead, they explicitly stated that the principles defined therein would continue to be valid regardless of the technological changes that might take place. This bet was not less. However, one can not fail to recognise, when analysed in detail that there are real problems in the application of the principles of the ecosystem of communications that is structured from the Internet.

In 2011 a joint declaration was made by the Special Rapporteurs on Freedom of Expression of the United Nations, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights where they have stressed the importance of the debate about Internet and Freedom of Expression, reaffirming the principles established by international law and drawing attention to specific aspects of the discussion, such as: intermediary liability, filtering and blocking, criminal and civil liability, network neutrality, and access to the Internet.

The 2015 UNESCO General Conference endorsed the concept of Internet Universality, which maintains that the overall development of the network must be based on four fundamental principles: (a) human rights-based; (b) openness; (c) accessibility, and (d) multistakeholderism.

All of this and other issues are brilliantly discussed by Andrew Puddephatt in the 6th edition of UNESCO's Communication and Information Discussion Notebook.

Please access the publications here:


(*) Andrew Puddephatt

Andrew Puddephatt is Executive Chair of Global Partners Digital’s Advisory Board. This includes support for civil society groups in Africa, Latin America and South and South East Asia; leading the Secretariat for the inter-governmental freedom Online Coalition and leading GPD’s major policy work. This has included developing a methodology for assessing the impact of media on democracy in partnership with UNESCO as well as journalist safety and internet indicators; a major scoping study of global digital communication trends for the Ford Foundation, advice to the Swedish government on implementing its development policy in support of freedom of expression, helping the Brazilian government implement its right to information law.

He has published widely on different aspects of freedom of expression, written guides on assessing the impact of development programmes on human rights policy for UNDP and UNESCO, and made strategic assessments of future trends for European governments.

He was previously director of Article 19, an international human rights organisation; is currently chair of International Media Support in Denmark; is Deputy Chair of the Sigrid Rausing Trust; and a management board member of the European Council on Foreign Relations.

He was awarded an OBE for services to human rights in January 2003.

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