The United Nations Human Rights Council has passed a non-binding resolution for the promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet on July 1. The UN condemns countries that intentionally block Internet access as a violation of human rights.
“The resolution is a much-needed response to increased pressure on freedom of expression online in all parts of the world,” says Thomas Hughes, executive director of ARTICLE 19, in a statement. “From impunity for the killings of bloggers to laws criminalising legitimate dissent on social media, basic human rights principles are being disregarded to impose greater controls over the information we see and share online.”
The UN wants governments around the world to address security concerns that will ensure freedom of expression and privacy, as well as ensure accountability for all human rights violations and abuse committed against people who exercised their rights online. It also encourages expanding Internet access to everyone including people with disabilities.
The resultion also aims to prevent the intentional disruption of Internet access or dissemination of information online, which includes posting news. The digital rights group Access Now reported that at least 15 Internet shutdowns in the world occurred last year and at least 20 have occurred thus far this year.
However, the resolution is non-binding, which means that it is not legally enforceable. Still, this creates awareness and puts pressure on governments to recognize a person’s rights online.
A total of 70 countries, including the US, UK, Senegal, Australia, Nigeria and Turkey, supported this decision but 17 countries opposed UN’s resolution. These nations include Cuba, China, Bolivia, Bangladesh, Burundi, the Republic of Congo, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela and Vietnam.
Hughes said that they are disappointed that even democracies like India, South Africa and Indonesia do not believe in the freedom of expression on the Internet. Hughes added that no state should slow down Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, also known as Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a plan that aims to provide a better future for all of us.