Report about Paris inter-sessional WSIS meeting

By EDRi · July 30, 2003

Between 15 and 18 July an inter-sessional meeting for the World Summit on
the Information Society (WSIS) took place in Paris, with a special focus on
human rights in the information society. In this Human Rights caucus, made
up of 25 organizations, 2 EDRI-members participated, the French IRIS and
the Danish Digital Rights. The HR group presented 2 oral statements to
different plenary government meetings and an alternative to the first
paragraph of the draft Declaration of Principles.

The first oral statement was entitled ‘Back to the Basics, WSIS and Human
Rights’, and argued for stronger protection of privacy and security of
cultural rights instead of the culture of security. The second statement
was presented on behalf of the civil society plenary, to express the
general feeling of the civil society organizations about the last draft of
the Declaration of principles. In this statement, the importance of article
19 of the Human Rights Declaration was underlined, regretting the proposed
“amputation of the section that guarantees that freedom of expression shall
be exercised without interference of any kind, regardless of frontiers.”

The alternative to the first paragraph of the draft Declaration of
Principles was provided to many government delegates and to both the
president of the inter-sessional and the WSIS preparatory process. The
rewritten paragraph was immediately supported by the Swiss government and
stands a good chance of being adopted as the official version.

The human rights caucus also helped the association CRIS (communication
rights in the information society) to clarify their proposal of a “right to
communicate”, arguing that a new right cannot be claimed while existing
rights dealing with information and communication are still being ignored.
Existing rights (including economic, social and cultural rights) need to be
reaffirmed and enforced and treated as indivisible rights. The revised
statement from CRIS reaffirms freedom of expression as “the basis for
individual and societal development”, and “communication rightS” is now the
preferred expression, rather that a “right to communicate”.

First oral statement to governments plenary (16.07.203, in English)

Second oral statement to governments plenary (18.07.2003, in English)

Alternative first paragraph of the Declaration of Principles (17.07.2003,
in English)

Revised CRIS statement (17.07.2003, in English)

(Contribution by Meryem Marzouki, IRIS)