World Association of Newspapers
Twenty-eight journalists have been killed since November 2007. Iraq tops the list, with nine killed, although this number seems to be declining over recent years, says WAN. June 2008.
As Alain Ambrosi (President of the World Forum on Community Networking) points out, the right to communicate is a demand that has always been at the heart of social struggle, no matter whether the issue has been "inventing" democracy, defending its original principles, or transforming them into concrete action based on citizen participation. As times change, geographical contexts evolve, and technology progresses, this right has been given different names: freedom of opinion, freedom of expression, freedom of the press, the right to information, and, now, the right to communication. Nonetheless, the right to communication remains a part of all freedom struggles for greater dialogue, pluralism, tolerance, and participation - and against all forms of authoritarian, exclusive, and excluding power, be it religious, aristocratic, male, State- or market-controlled.
The struggle for the right to communicate has taken on a new dimension because communication itself has become a central issue in establishing a new world order. In accordance with neoliberal market logic, the "communications era" cannot be dissociated from economic, political, and cultural "globalization".
It is not enough simply to redefine the right to communicate and to entrench it in constitutions and international charters (for example, by amending Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights); instead, it must be ensured that all social actors can effectively make use of this right. Neither is it enough merely to master new technologies from a technical standpoint; there must also be a guarantee that they can be socially appropriated and made to serve democracy. Therefore, civil society organizations face a great challenge - only by aiming their innovative practices at the long term, learning lessons from past struggles, and pooling their efforts will they be able to make use of the right to communicate that they themselves have helped to define.
The Global Internet Liberty Campaign was formed at the annual meeting of the Internet Society in Montreal. Members of the coalition include the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, Human Rights Watch, the
Internet Society, Privacy International, the Association des Utilisateurs d'Internet, and other civil liberties and human rights organizations.
The Forum will interpret and ‘frame’ the issue of communication rights in a lucid and direct manner, and thereby contribute to the emergence of coherent advocacy and activity especially in civil society, around these issues.
This paper examines the co-evolution of information and communications technologies and communication
rights. The emphasis is on the right to communicate. The paper provides a historical analysis through several
generations of human rights developments of the inter-relationships between technical advances that enabled
new communication modalities and the subsequent social and organizational interests that evolved.
The author analyzes the impact of the spread of the Internet in Africa. She notes that, while providing new opportunities for social and political dialogue, there is a danger that the new technologies will create a new form of information poverty, as those who do not have access to the potential benefits become further marginalized. (pdf format)
CPJ researchers apply stringent guidelines and journalistic standards to determine whether journalists were killed on assignment or as a direct result of their professional work. By publicizing and protesting these killings, CPJ works to help change the conditions that foster violence against journalists. The death toll that CPJ compiles each year is one of the most widely cited measures of press freedom worldwide.
The traditional understanding of human rights faces several challenges with the development of the Internet. There is a very urgent and specific need to address information rights within a comprehensive human rights framework, specifically a right to communicate. This paper examines the development of a right to communicate and how it can be defined and implemented. October 2007.
This article explores the paradoxes in the ‘digital revolution’ that China has witnessed during the last decade or so. The author describes the enormous social and cultural tensions that have been engendered by the aggressive launching of a state-led, market oriented, and technologically-driven “digital revolution” in the context of regressive developments in the social domain. The paper then reviews the multi-faceted struggles that have been waged by various Chinese social forces, in rearticulating and reinserting a social agenda in the “digital revolution” and discusses the post-Jiang Chinese state’s reclaiming of the social in its developmental strategy. October 2007.
The debate over universal access is focused on too narrow a concept by all sides of the argument. Furthermore, this debate continues to be an exclusive one dominated by special interest groups operating in a legalistic regulatory process. As an alternative, this paper proposes that the issue of universal access be addressed in the broader conceptual framework of the right to communicate.
The author states that "The market model treats people as consumers, not as citizens who bear a co-responsibility in decision-making. This situation prevents the great majority, especially excluded social groups, from expressing themselves publicly and making their needs and demands known, an indispensable condition for democratic participation. This also affects the freedom of journalists to practice their profession in accordance with a criterion of public service. Consequently, a fundamental human right, the right to communicate has been severely constrained." Paper now chapter 12 of "Alternatives for the Americas", page 74 (pdf format)
A draft Declaration on the Right to Communicate has been prepared by C. Hamelink and endorsements of this Declaration are being sought. This note by Article 19 assesses the Hamelink Declaration both for compliance with international human rights standards, in particular relating to freedom of expression, and for the
contribution it makes to further developing the right to communicate. pdf format.
Although the expansion of democratic practices, greater domestic and international support for human rights and the emergence of a vigorous and independent civil society have combined to improve the media climate in Africa, journalists, broadcasters and publishers are still targeted for less severe forms of harassment. PDF format. September 2005.
This annual report by EPIC and Privacy International reviews the state of privacy in over fifty countries around the world.
It outlines legal protections for privacy, new challenges, and summarizes important issues and events relating to privacy and surveillance.
This section provides links to formal human rights instruments and to informal right to communicate resolutions. The
question of whether or not there ought to be a convention on the right to communicate is raised here. Perspectives needed to
develop a 'white paper' on the right to communicate concludes the section.
Gangs and corrupt officials in Latin America. Tyrants in the Middle East and Asia. Wars in Africa. Death threats and court cases in Europe and Central Asia. These are the most serious threats to free expression, says the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) in its half-year press freedom review. The report is a grim picture of the attacks, imprisonment and violence faced by journalists in many countries. June 2008.
Apart from repressive governments, extremist religious groups, drug traffickers, organised crime, gangs, independence movements, armed rebels, corrupt politicians and aggressive secret police all behaved brutally towards journalists during 2007. March 2008.
"Communication as a human right, distinct from freedom of expression, has been developing in international policy and legal contexts for the last 150 years and is the right most applicable to universal access" argues this article by William J. McIver. 2000.
"In the 21st Century, the capacity to communicate will almost certainly be a key human right", said Nelson Mandela during
the opening ceremony of the 7th World Telecommunications Conference and Exhibition.
With 78 journalists killed, 2004 has been one of the worst years since IPI first started keeping records. The ongoing Iraqi insurgency killed 22 journalists and it remains the deadliest place in the world to practice journalism. Asia and MENA, with a total of 52 journalists killed - 26 in each - are the most dangerous regions; while, in the Americas, 17 journalists lost their lives. Elsewhere, two journalists were killed in Africa and seven in Europe. March 2005.
With the recent rapid advances in information and communication technologies, not only has a new scenario emerged in communication, but they have also had profound repercussions in various spheres of social relationships. In this context, the media have accumulated so much power that they have come to occupy virtually all of public space, which allows them to implement their own political and economic agenda, dictating what is or is not considered socially relevant. June 2007.
The author states that criteria and conditions should be established that can be applied to further formulation of a human
rights based framework for information and communication policies in Third World Countries.
The three special mandates for freedom of expression at the UN, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the Organization of American States (OAS) adopted a Joint Declaration again this year, focusing on the Internet and anti-terrorism measures. They called, among other things, for Internet governance to be free of government control and for corporations to respect freedom of expression online. January 2006.
Hands-off treatment is pervasive in Colombia, a Committee to Protect Journalists investigation has found. Interviews with three dozen news professionals show that media outlets and journalists across the country routinely censor themselves in fear of physical retaliation from all sides in the nation’s conflict. At least 30 Colombian journalists have been murdered over the past decade for their work. November 2005.
Most of the journalists killed in the first six months of 2005 were targeted for investigating corruption, drug trafficking and other illegal activities. All too often, there is little or no evidence to suggest that the authorities are taking decisive action to identify and bring to justice those responsible for the crimes, says the IPI Death Watch 2005 report. July 2005.
A five year study showed that the vast majority of journalists killed on duty did not die in crossfire or while covering dangerous assignments, instead, 121 of the 190 journalists who died on duty worldwide since 2000 were hunted down and murdered in retaliation for reporting on government corruption, crime, drug trafficking, or the activities of rebel groups. May 2005.
Roberto Bissio, coordinator of Social Watch and Latin American secretary of the Third World Network, and Dr Carlos Abin, Executive Director of the Instituto del Tercer Mundo have called the Bank's Fraud and Corruption Investigations Hotline to investigate: "a misuse of Bank funds and positions, gross waste of Bank funds, cost mischarging or defective pricing and perhaps even fraud and misleading of public opinion".
SDNP provides decision makers in government and civil society with information that is relevant for both design and implementation of the plans made by the countries to achieve sustainable development.
This is a list of resources related to the planning and deployment of information systems in developing countries. For the most part, these links deal with the implementation of Internet tools, desktop applications and general telecommunications infrastructure in international development.
The Acacia initiative is an international program to empower sub-Saharan communities with the ability to apply information and communication technologies (ICTs) to their own social and economic development.
This site summarizes a paper highlighting changes in the media landscape of Sub-Saharan Africa and possibility for increased citizen empowerment and social interaction to help transform lives and communities. Although efforts are creating growth in community-based media, a paradigm shift in the process of journalism is needed.
This book shows how market reforms have failed to ensure that the benefits of the Information Society have spread across the many social and economic divides that characterize the Latin America and the Caribbean region. November 2007.
The Development Gateway is an Internet portal that seeks to promote sustainable development and poverty reduction through knowledge and resource sharing. Initially conceived and designed by the World Bank, it commenced operations as an independent not-for-profit organisation in July 2001. However, its launch and operations have been dogged by controversy as civil society organisations have objected to the Gateway’s links with the World Bank and its potential for disseminating the World Bank’s vision of development at the expense of more diverse and pluralistic views. In particular, criticism has centred on the Topics and Country Gateway sections of the web site, as being ill-conceived and biased, leading to the further marginalisation of southern knowledge, and the crowding out of other knowledge aggregators. This study evaluates the Topics and Country Gateway sections of the Development Gateway in light of the stated objectives, the initial criticisms and generally recognised principles for knowledge sharing. It combines an extensive review of documents and detailed analyses of the website to evaluate the governance of the Development Gateway, and the relevance and quality of the Topic and Country Gateway content. July 2004 (pdf version).
The Open Spectrum movement seeks to eliminate governments' role in granting permission for individuals and organizations to use radios harmlessly, particularly in developing countries. This movement wants to "unleash the benefits of wireless communication for economic and social development in the places that have the most to gain".
This article states that issues related to communications and the globalisation of poverty are the result of a variety of factors, internal and external – the lack of access to products and processes, the inability to control the prioritising of scarce resources, regulate media ownership or balance local vs. global interests in the context of world wide economic liberalisation., the fall out of multilateral trade policies., and the consequences of debt servicing. But it is also, quite tragically, the result of a global forgetting of the margins.
The author claims that the use of the Internet in the Third World has its benefits, but usually only the elites of the countries will profit from it, and that, although the various uses of the Internet by engaged groups is positive, the implications for improving the lot of the vast majority is limited.
Radio has huge potential to have a positive impact on conflict, especially in Africa where it is by far the most effective method of communication. The Search for Common Ground's Radio for Peacebuilding project aims to develop, spread and encourage the use of radio broadcasting techniques and content for peacebuilding.
IWGDPT stresses that the protection of privacy and personal correspondence against arbitrary intrusions is a human right, and, in the Information Society, where communication takes place mainly via telecommunications facilities, this means that everybody has a right to have their electronically-transmitted messages treated confidentially and that no unauthorised person should be able to intercept their contents.
PI is a human rights group formed in 1990 as a watchdog on surveillance by governments and corporations. PI is based in London, England, and has an office in Washington, D.C. PI has conducted campaigns throughout the world on issues ranging from wiretapping and national security, to ID cards, video surveillance, data matching, police information systems, medical
privacy, and freedom of information and expression.
The Public Voice project was established to promote public participation in Internet policy making on issues ranging from
privacy and free expression to consumer protection and Internet governance. Through international conferences, reports and
funding for travel the Public Voice project seeks to increase the presence of NGOs at meetings across the globe. In
cooperation with the OECD, UNESCO, and other international organizations, the Public Voice project brings civil society
leaders face to face with government officials for constructive engagement about current policy issues.
European Digital Rights is a European association of privacy and civil rights groups. Since its foundation in June 2002,
EDRi is made up out of 10 privacy and civil rights organizations from 7 different countries in the European Union.
The theme of this year's Conference is "Practical Privacy for People, Government and Business." The conference will explore advances in privacy and build platforms and solutions that enhance the privacy choices of all citizens. It will provide an
opportunity for Commissioners to engage in private discussions as well as interact with delegates and speakers from the government, business, and civil society.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and Privacy International have released the 9th "Privacy and Human Rights" report. "Privacy and Human Rights: an international survey of privacy laws and developments" provides an overview of key privacy topics and reviews the state of privacy in over 75 countries around the world. Recent developments and emerging issues include social networking, Internet advertising, and location privacy, as well as new country reports for the Middle East, Latin America and cyberspace. (September 2007)
The Online Computer Library Center has released its international study on online social spaces, entitled “Sharing, Privacy and Trust in Our Networked World.” The survey polled over 6,100 respondents from Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the UK and the US, as well as 382 US library directors. The study focuses on user practices and preferences in social spaces, user attitudes about sharing, information privacy, and librarian social networking practices and preferences. November 2007.
Established in 1865, the ITU is an international organization within the United Nations System.
It coordinates global telecom networks and services for governments and the private sector; it is responsible for
standardization, coordination and development of international telecommunications. Its Bureaus are: Telecommunication
Standardization; Radio Communication; and, Telecommunication Development.
This UN initiative is intended to lend a truly global dimension to the multitude of efforts to bridge the global digital
divide, foster digital opportunity and thus firmly put ICT at the service of development for all.
The Institute for New Technologies of the United Nations University (UNU/INTECH) conducts policy research on the economic
and social impact of new technologies in the developing world. Lectures and journal articles are available in PDF format.
The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) is an international network of civil society organisations dedicated to empowering and supporting groups and individuals working for peace, human rights, development and protection of the environment, through the strategic use of information and communication technologies (ICTs), including the Internet.
Site mantained by "The Right to Communicate Group" with in-depth information on the topic. The Group was initiated during the 1974 conference of the International Institute of Communications in Mexico City. As its first major task, the Group saw through to publication in 1977 the Collected Papers and the Evolving Perspectives collections. Later, the Group served a similar role for the New Human Right collection.
Virtual Conference organized by Videazimut, an international alliance bringing together independent video and television creators, that aligns itself with a growing consensus on the right to communicate as a fundamental human right.
This handbook is directed at any and/or all groups who are concerned about communication
rights issues in their areas. Along with the associated materials, it forms just part of a
larger set of resources available from the CRIS Campaign, working in collaboration with numerous other groups worldwide.
CPSR is a public-interest alliance of computer scientists and others concerned about the impact of computer technology on
society. CPSR work to influence decisions regarding the development and use of computers in the understanding that those
decisions have far-reaching consequences that affect society.
The violations and infringements of the freedom of the press -under various guises- have continued to prevail in the media sector in Tunisia in the year 2003-2004. This report presents examples and testimonies that have been gathered and checked by the LTDH. PDF format.
This report states that "The lack of a gendered analysis in the planning and distribution of ICTs results in the downloading
of social responsibility for equality, diversity, culture, and communication onto individual women and their organizations.
Women's organizations continue to need to build their capacity to use the technology, to envision its possibilities and
integrate it in their women's equality work." PDF format.
The Gender and the Digital Divide Seminar Series is being sponsored by the Gender and Development and Girls' Education Thematic Groups, and Bridging the Digital Divide through Education Task Force of the World Bank. The series looks at the impact that information and communication technologies (ICT) are having on gender relations and innovative ways that ICTs are being used to overcome gender inequalities and bridge the digital divide.
During the past decade, gender and communications groups have put forward a number of proposals for a more balanced gender perspective in communication structures, practices and content. Their active involvement in the debate on a formulation of the Right to Communicate is an immediate challenge.
The Forum was aimed at bringing together both women and men that have worked in the gender and ICT area in the past decade. It was provide a much needed space to build on the momentum created during the first phase of the WSIS (World Summit on the Information Society) and prepare a strategic approach and plan for the second phase of WSIS and other ICT policy arena including the Beijing +10 process, the world and regional social forums (WSF), the WTO and other relevant processes.
Women have become increasingly active in sub- and trans-national spaces enabled by new information and communication technologies. This has often meant the potential transformation of a whole range of "local" conditions or domestic institutional domains, where women find themselves confined to domestic roles, into political spaces.
Community media is fundamentally about subversion, a democratic project tucked away from the mainstream, a site of symbolic resistance and new meanings, where social actors continually question and re-etch the boundaries of domination. This article is based on research that tried to assess whether a CMCs can become a locale of micro-resistance for women - their own social space right in the heart of an oppressive terrain. Using a combination of in-depth interviews and participant observation, an attempt has been made, to investigate how an ICT centre located in an Islamic community, creates subaltern gendered selves. December 2007.
This extensive paper examines why it is necessary to view women as ICT producers, developers and decision makers, in order to ensure further equal participation of women in the Information Society. Recognising the importance of integrating a gender perspective as a cross- cutting area in ICT and development, the paper provides a gender perspective on issues of ICT policies, access and control, education, training and skill development, and content development. Furthermore, the authors introduce a framework to integrate gender in ICT for development and women's empowerment. September 2007.
Much of the discourse on women and information and communication technologies (ICTs) seems to indicate that as a result of using these technologies, marginalised groups like rural women can get empowered. There is however a need to question how empowerment can happen in a situation where access is limited or even non existent. A case study of an ICT project that was established in Uganda with an aim of economically empowering women is used to asses the extent to which rural women were able to access ICTs, and if as a result they were empowered as claimed by the project reports. July 2007.
As new digital communications technologies enable new opportunities for the creation, expression and dissemination of news and perspectives, these spaces are not invincible from the policing of State and other equally impactful, but often submerged, socio-political norms. GenderIT.org explores the gender dimension of freedoms of the freedoms of expression and information.
The absence of womens voices and perspectives in the information society indicates that 'new' information and communication
technologies (ICTs) reflect many of the gender patterns (in relation to power, values and exclusion) that have been evident for decades in the 'old' media. pdf format
Chat Garcia Ramilo argues strongly for a feminist agenda on technology. Drawing on the discussions at the AWID Forum, she shows how within the framework of women's rights technology is a determining factor in women's sexuality, representation and exploitation, and has to be seen as one more facet of violence against women. She calls on the feminist movement to engage technologies as a site of feminist political struggle.
On 16th February 2005 the world's news media came under scrutiny when hundreds of people in over 76 countries monitored the representation and portrayal of women and men in news on television, radio and in newspaper. One year on, groups in over 50 countries launch the results of this effort to ensure that fair gender portrayal becomes a professional criterion like any other such as balance, fairness and honesty which all good journalists should aspire to in their work.
The key problem giving anxiety fits to elites and masses, to heads of states and street-vendors, in the Arab world today is the digital chaos induced by Information Technologies (IT), such as the Internet and the satellite. These new technologies have destroyed the "hudud", the space frontier which divided the universe into a sheltered private arena where women and children were supposed to be protected, and a public one where adult males exercised their authority. October 2005.
GEM -an acronym for Gender Evaluation Methodology for Internet and ICTs- aims to allow its users to get a better idea of whether ICTs can really improve women's lives and gender relations as well as promote positive social change. It was developed by APC's Women Networking Support Programme.
GenderIT.org, by the APC Women's Networking Support Programme, is a practical tool for women's organisations and policy-makers so that ICT policy meets women needs and does not infringe on their rights. As a clearing house on gender and ICT policy issues, GenderIT.org is an open platform for any gender and ICT advocate to publish her/his resources and papers, and to register in the 'Who's who in policy' directory of key actors.
The author says that sooner or later, the state will abandon its attempts to impose economic censorship on the Net and even
the media corporations will eventually have to accept the demise of information Fordism. Instead of copyright enforcement,
government intervention can focus on extending and improving access to the Net for all people. The ‘negative’ freedom from
state censorship must evolve into the ‘positive’ freedom to make media. In the age of the Net, free speech can become:
‘...the right to make noise... to create one’s own code and work... the right to make the free and revocable choice to
interlink with another’s code - that is, the right to compose life.’
Citizen Lab recently completed Internet censorship circumvention guide intended for non-technical users, called "Everyone's Guide to By-Passing Internet Censorship for Citizens" Worldwide. Whereas once it was assumed that states could not control Internet communications, more than 25 countries now engage in Internet censorship practices. Although some states enact Internet filtering legislation, most do so with little or no transparency and public accountability. Most states do not reveal what information is being blocked, and rarely are there review or grievance mechanisms for affected citizens or content publishers. Compounding the problem is the increasing use of commercial filtering software, which is prone to over-blocking due to faulty categorization. As a consequence, unaccountable private companies determine censorship rules in political environments where there is little public accountability or oversight. September 2007. (pdf format)
The Internet network is known as one of the most democratic and powerful media ever offered to citizens. It is even recognized as "a new frontier in the struggle for human rights" by Amnesty International. The Internet became a new dissident means of expression serving citizens and human rights defenders in a growing movement recognized as "e-activism". At the same time, in many countries where the liberty of expression and human rights are not fully respected, censorship of the Internet is progressing. One year after the publication of our first highlight untitled "Internet Under Repression", the ICT4D dgCommunity is proposing a short update in the field of Internet Censorship as well as ongoing initiatives and tools to by-pass. November 2007.
In partnership with Reporters Without Borders and Chinese Human Rights Defenders, a Chinese Internet expert working in IT industry has produced an exclusive study on the key mechanism of the Chinese official system of online censorship, surveillance and propaganda. The author prefers to remain anonymous. October 2007.
This article recently published by Global Voices focuses on recent evolution of networks and NGOs fighting censorship over the Internet with a particular focus on Global Voices Online's actions: "During the last six months, since the launch of Global Voices Advocacy, we have been trying to cover the increasingly serious threats to online speech occurring around the globe and the efforts to combat them. We’ve documented the arrest and detention of scores of bloggers and online authors and highlighted several anti-censorship campaigns, reports of Internet censorship, blocked blogs and websites. Our coverage so far has included stories on 25 nations, as well as exclusive interviews with activists and bloggers focused on free speech issues, in addition to an in-depth survey of online censorship cases that rarely receive media attention." August 2007.
The article presents the viewpoint of Google on Internet censorship and its role in China, which is one of the countries where the Internet and the information it provides is subject to state control. The CEO of Google presents the case for Internet censorship to be a factor in consideration of trade barriers and believes such steps will promote more freedom of speech.
Reporters Without Borders and the Organisation for Security and
Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) make six recommendations to ensure freedom of
expression on the Internet.This declaration aims to deal with the
main issues facing
countries seeking to regulate online activity. It hopes they will provoke discussion in the
run-up to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).
APC condemns the actions by US and European law enforcement agencies to seize independent online news service Indymedia’s web servers, which has led to the closure of more than 21 of the more than 140 Indymedia web sites worldwide since October 7 2004.
The IRTF's mission is to promote research of importance to the evolution of the future Internet by creating focused, long-term and small Research Groups working on topics related to Internet protocols, applications, architecture and technology.
The Internet SOCiety (ISOC) is a professional membership society with more than 150 organization and 11,000 individual members in over 182 countries. It provides leadership in addressing issues that confront the future of the Internet.
The IAB provides oversight of the process used to create Internet Standards. It serves as an appeal board for complaints of improper execution of the standards process through acting as an appeal body in respect of an IESG standards decision.
CDT has created the Internet Standards, Technology & Policy Project, intended to increase public interest input into the standards processes, and to increase communication and understanding between Internet technologists and public policy makers and advocates. This Web site and CDT's Standards Bulletin are intended to provide the public policy community with a clear and understandable window into the Internet technical standards processes and the possible impact of new technical standards on issues of public concern.
The IETF sets the underlying technical standards for the Internet. It describes itself as "a loosely self-organised group of people who make technical and other contributions to the engineering and evolution of the Internet and its technologies."
The first phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) held in Geneva in December 2003, launched two critical issues with regards to the information society. One of this issues is related to the Internet governance system, that is to say, to the development and application by governments, the private sector and civil society of shared principles, norms, rules, decision making procedures and programmes that shape the evolution and use of the Internet. Within this framework, the UN - mandated by the WSIS Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action - established in 2004 a multistakeholder Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG). The WGIG issued its final report on July 2005, expecting it to be used as reference to conduct debates in the preparatory process of the second phase of the WSIS. Choike in depth report.