UN Human Rights Council adopts landmark resolution on online freedom of expression

Sweedish Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt / photo by Johan Oedmann

The United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva adopted for the first time ever a resolution on human rights and the internet. Sweden, Brazil, Nigeria, Tunisia, Turkey and the United States are the initiative takers behind the resolution. The resolution was presented with the additional support of more than 80 states and was adopted by consensus.

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The resolution affirms that the right to freedom of expression established in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights also applies on the internet. The right to freedom of expression that applies ‘offline’ must apply to equally ‘online’.

The resolution also affirms the importance of the internet to global development and all states are urged to promote access to the internet, both to infrastructure and content.

“I am very pleased that the Council has taken this important decision today. The role of the internet in promoting freedom of expression and global development cannot be overstated and we will act to ensure that today’s decision will have also an impact on other international processes,” says Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt.

The resolution adopted by the 47 states of the Council is part of Sweden’s long-term efforts to secure that fundamental human rights also apply on the internet. In February, Mr Bildt took part in a panel discussion on online freedom of expression in the UN Human Rights Council and Sweden has previously taken the initiative for statements on online freedom of expression in the Council that have received broad support from states all around the world.

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