Defending Human Rights in the Digital Age
“Curbs on human rights online risk not only violating these rights; they can also in effect do great damage to the Internet itself. UNESCO and Sakharov Prize Network discuss human rights online at the European Parliament”May 30th, 2016
This was a message of Guy Berger, the UNESCO Director of the Division of Freedom of Expression and Media Development, in a keynote speech at the European Parliament in Brussels, 24th May 2016. His intervention was part of the Mid-term Conference of the Sakharov Prize Network for stronger human rights action, which is dedicated to defending human rights in a digital era and involves Laureates of the Prize. The session was chaired by Vice-Chair of the Subcommittee on Human Rights at the European Parliament, MEP Christian Dan Preda.
Berger referred to “a level of satisfaction that puts our rights to freedom of expression, privacy and association under stress”. He also said that balancing rights on the Internet needed to take account of international standards for proportionality and necessity. Besides that, he also stated that balancing needed to take account of the Internet specificities of Openness, Accessibility and Multi-stakeholder participation. Paying tribute to the Laureates of Sakharov Prize, Berger underlined that “we need to support and protect journalism, on and offline. We need to speak out when its expressions are censored, and when its practitioners are persecuted, whether by terrorists or state actors. These violations of freedom of expression remove the very factor that can enable everyone to think in an informed way. So, we must defend the right to do journalism online in freedom and safety”.
During the session, there was also introduced by Guy Berger a pilot project being worked on by UNESCO, and invited cooperation by European institutions. Called “internet futures: upgrading policy and practice human rights in the digital age”. The project promotes the UNESCO framework of Internet Universality and ROAM principles as a way to balance human rights online.
The Sakharov Prize Network connects Members of the European Parliament, laureates and civil society and it serves as a channel of communication that enables them to better address human rights violations and issues.
Veronika Mecnarowska, CD-News