United Nations: Internet access is a human right

by Caetano Notari · 2 comments

in Digital Inclusion

United Nations Human Rights

Over the last weeks, I have posted on the benefits of the Internet and how that spurs positive changes in our society. Education, democracy, and communication: everything is done more efficiently and cheaper. I am pleased to see that, in the last week of June, the United Nations made a bold move and pushed digital inclusion in all countries.

On June 29th, the United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution in the Twentieth session“The promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet”. In this resolution, they reaffirm all human rights and fundamental freedoms, but, as they stated, the right to freedom of expression is of increasing interest and importance. A few highlights from the document:

  • Affirms that the same rights offline must be protected online, in particular freedom of expression. We have seen the incredible power of the Internet during the Arab Spring, where 4 governments have been forced out of power, and most of the actions were coordinated online. Citizens living in countries with limited freedom frequently use Twitter and other social media tools to push their messages to a large audience.
  • Calls upon states to promote and facilitate access to the Internet. That is the most critical and complex task. Building up a nationwide broadband network is complex and expensive. For countries with decent telephony infrastructure, the investments necessary to deploy broadband are lower, as a good part of the external network can be reused. We have to remember, though, that the costs associated with large civil works projects (digging up streets, getting the permissions, etc.) are exceptionally high; in countries with limited infrastructure, investments in wireless broadband technologies are the best approach.

It is worth mentioning that the decision was unanimous, making it more likely to be adopted. The next battle will be convincing governments that it is in their interest to push both Internet access and broadband technologies as much as possible. As they are focused on finding ways to increase job creation and minimize the effects of the global economic crisis, governments may find the digital inclusion agenda a close match to their needs.

And you, what do you think?


Caetano Notari


Recommended Reading:

What is the status of global digital inclusion – global data showing the current numbers on digital inclusion

Why is digital inclusion essential? – quick analysis in the importance of digital inclusion

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