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U.N. Human Rights Council Addresses Human Rights on the Internet

Posted in International

On July 5, 2012, the U.N. Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on the promotion, protection, and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet.  

The U.N. General Assembly established the Human Rights Council in 2006 to replace the former U.N. Commission on Human Rights.  The Council consists of 47 U.N. member states from all geographic regions that are elected by the General Assembly for three-year terms.  Current members include China, the Russian Federation, and the United States.

The Internet resolution was co-sponsored by more than 80 countries, both members and non-members of the Council, including Sweden, the United States, and Brazil.  The Council adopted the resolution by consensus during its 20th regular session, which ran from June 18 through July 6, 2012, in Geneva.

The resolution “[a]ffirms that the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, in particular freedom of expression, which is applicable regardless of frontiers and through any media of one’s choice, in accordance with articles 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”  The resolution also “[c]alls upon all States to promote and facilitate access to the Internet and international cooperation aimed at the development of media and information and communications facilities in all countries.”

In a press statement, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called the “landmark resolution” a “welcome addition in the fight for the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms online.”