Saturday, March 13, 2010


Adopted by the Human Rights Defenders and Civil Society Representatives assembled at the 2nd Geneva Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance and Democracy, March 9, 2010.


We, human rights defenders and representatives of civil society from all regions of the world, having assembled here at the Second Geneva Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance and Democracy,

Guided by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantee the right to freedom of opinion and expression, including the freedom to hold opinions without interference, and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers,

Recognizing that the Internet is a universal space for communication and the exchange of ideas that can promote freedom and mutual understanding among all people, regardless of race, religion, geography or economic status,

Mindful that the Internet has become a primary vehicle for communication in all sectors of life in a globalized economic and civil society, requiring its transparency and openness to function properly,

Believing that the preservation of a free Internet is essential to the full enjoyment of human rights, civil liberties and a free and democratic society,

Alarmed that the situation of Internet freedom in many regions of the world is increasingly perilous and under assault,

Acknowledging that the intimidation and the use of technologies aimed at the restriction and monitoring of Internet creates an environment of repression,

Affirming that suppression of independent thought by filtering, monitoring and censoring of websites, online content, blogs and messaging services constitutes a violation of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,

Recognizing that all countries have obligations to guarantee Internet freedom,

Emphasizing that countries which enjoy secure and open Internet technologies are obliged to prevent exported communications technologies from being used as a vehicle for suppression and censorship, and that Internet companies should take reasonable steps to avoid complicity with, and liability for, violations of human rights,

Recognizing that the struggle for freedom of expression has today largely shifted online as the Internet has become the means of choice for political dissidents, democracy activists, human rights defenders and independent journalists worldwide,

Considering that there are particular countries in which the situation of Internet freedom is under a grave and gathering threat, with imprisoned political dissidents, journalists and bloggers who are in urgent need of protection by the international community,

Recalling the proposed 2008 Directive of the European Parliament concerning the EU Global Online Freedom Act, in particular its finding that authoritarian states such as Belarus, Burma, China, Cuba, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam censor the internet by blocking websites and filtering search results and intimidate internet users through cyber police and obliged registration,

Deeply concerned that authorities in China have seized computers, imprisoned individuals for sharing information online, blocked and deleted blogs and other online services, and incarcerated journalists and social activists for online activity,

Alarmed that authorities in Iran have acted to suppress the free flow of information by blockading Internet traffic and suspending email providers and messaging services, and have created a special police division to hunt down Internet users suspected of so-called “insults and spreading of lies” against the regime,

Deeply disturbed that authorities in Cuba imposed near-total restrictions on access through prohibitive user fees, few public access points and slow connection speeds, and restricted distribution of service to a state-controlled provider,

Decide to hereby adopt this Declaration on Internet Freedom, in Geneva, Switzerland, on March 9, 2010;

Urge the United Nations Human Rights Council, now meeting in its 13th Regular Session, to endorse this Declaration and support the cause of Internet freedom in the face of repression;

Urge all other relevant United Nations and international bodies to endorse this Declaration and support the cause of Internet freedom in the face of repression;

Urge all like-minded supporters of freedom, human rights and democracy to adopt similar declarations, resolutions, or other statements to support the cause of Internet freedom in the face of repression, and urge that these be submitted to the United Nations.

Article 1

Everyone has the right to equal access to the Internet, regardless of race, religion, ethnic or geographical origin.

Article 2

Everyone has the right to the free flow of information and freedom of expression without fear of discrimination.

Article 3

Everyone has the right to a transparent and open Internet without the subjection of individual licensing or prohibitive, discriminatory requirements such as heavy tolls.

Article 4

Everyone has the right to preserve and protect their intellectual property, kept private and confidential from invasion, seizure or monitoring.

Article 5

Everyone has a right to protect Internet access, Internet infrastructure and communication technologies from government seizure.

Article 6

Everyone has a right to anonymity and online privacy, free from intrusive monitoring by the state or third parties.

Article 7

Everyone has the right to encrypt or otherwise secure their identities and the security of their information as it travels across the Internet, to protect themselves and their information from unwarranted monitoring.

Article 8

No one should be allowed to export or sell technologies, equipment or software that enables the restriction of Internet use or access for the purpose of violating human rights.

Article 9

Internet providers should not be allowed to provide governments, corporations or third parties any information about their users without their legal consent.

Article 10

Any attempt to restrict or intimidate people from free, uncensored, and secure access of the Internet constitutes a fundamental abridgement of human rights and undermines the promotion of peace and world order.

Article 11

The rights and freedoms set out in this Declaration are guaranteed subject only to such reasonable limits, prescribed by law, as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society. Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Adopted by consensus, Geneva, March 9, 2010

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