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African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms to be launched in Turkey, South Africa

By Eric Ojo

African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms will be inaugurated at the on-going Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Istanbul, Turkey, on Thursday this week.

The Declaration, which is a Pan-African initiative to promote human rights standards and principles of openness in internet policy formulation and implementation on the continent, will also be launched on September 8 at Highway Africa Conference in Grahamstown, South Africa.

The Declaration is intended to elaborate on the principles which are necessary to uphold human and people’s rights on the internet, and to cultivate an internet environment that can best meet Africa’s social and economic development needs and goals.

The Declaration also builds on well-established African human rights documents including the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights of 1981, the Windhoek Declaration on Promoting an Independent and Pluralistic African Press of 1991, the African Charter on Broadcasting of 2001, the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa of 2002, and the African Platform on Access to Information Declaration of 2011.

The text of the Declaration based which was developed by a smaller Drafter’s Group led by Edetaen Ojo, the  Executive Director of Media Rights Agenda, is based on feedback from the wider group, from an online public consultation, many eminent individuals as well as organisations from a  wide range of African and international actors and institutions.

The idea for an African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms, according to a press statement issues by the African Declaration Drafter’s Group, was agreed at the 2013 African Internet Governance Forum in Nairobi, Kenya. A broader meeting was subsequently convened in Johannesburg in February 2014 to commence drafting the Declaration.

This meeting, according the statement, was attended by participants from the Africa Centre for Open Governance, Article 19, Association for Progressive Communications, CIVICUS, Collaboration on Internet ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa, Commission on Human Rights and Good Governance, DotAfrica, and Eduardo Mondlane University, Global Partners Digital.

“Others include, the Institute for Social Accountability, Internet Society Ghana, Kenya Human Rights Commission, Kictanet, Media Foundation for West Africa, Media Institute of Southern Africa, Media Rights Agenda, Paradigm Initiative, Protégé QV, South African Human Rights Commission, Support for Information Technology and Web We Want.

“Our mission is for the Declaration to be widely endorsed by all those with a stake in the internet in Africa and to help shape approaches to internet policy-making and governance across the continent”, the statement added.

The Declaration will be equally presented at the African Union Conference of Ministers in charge of Communication and Information Technologies scheduled to take place during the first quarter in 2015.


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