» Feedback sought for UNESCO’s research on the Internet
07.03.2014 - Communication & Information Sector

Feedback sought for UNESCO’s research on the Internet

© UNESCO

In the context of a Comprehensive Study into Internet issues which was mandated by UNESCO’s 37th General Conference in November 2013, the Organization is now seeking feedback from stakeholders on “Internet Universality”.

This draft concept informs the framework of the Comprehensive Study, which focuses on online access to information and knowledge, freedom of expression, privacy and ethical dimensions of the Internet, as decided in Resolution 52 of the 37th General Conference.

According to the Resolution, the Study must be done through “an inclusive multi-stakeholder process which includes governments, private sector, civil society, international organizations and the technical community”.

As part of this process, feedback is sought on “Internet Universality” as an overarching concept to identify the key elements of the Internet for UNESCO, and highlight how the Internet can advance Knowledge Societies.

An earlier version of the “Internet Universality” concept has been canvassed in 2013 through a series of consultations at 10 international fora, as well as with UNESCO’s different sectors. 

By summarising four principles which are extant in accepted UNESCO texts on the Internet, the notion of “Internet universality” provides a vision of a universalized Internet aligned with UNESCO’s mandate and values. 

Respect for these four principles is holistic precondition for the Internet to be universal: (i) human rights; (ii) openness; (iii) accessibility; and (iv) multi-stakeholder participatory.

The four can be summarized by the mnemonic R – O – A – M (Rights-based, Open, Accessible, Multi-stakeholder driven).

By bringing together UNESCO’s existing positions, the concept of “Internet Universality” helps to frame much of UNESCO’s Internet-related work in education, culture, science, social science and communication-information for the strategic period of 2014-2021. It offers a common point of reference for enhanced synergies between sectors.

In addition, the concept highlights what the Organization can bring to the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

The Division of Freedom of Expression and Media Development thanks all those who have commented on earlier drafts for their valuable suggestions. This second version is titled “Internet Universality: A Means Towards Building Knowledge Societies and the Post-2015 Development Agenda”.

The draft concept will be discussed as part of the broader consultation meetings on the Comprehensive Study that will take place after the 194th session of the Executive Board in April 2014.

Please post your comments and suggestions to Ms Xianhong Hu.

To download the Discussion Paper on Internet Universality, please click on the language files below:




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