Communication Rights: Background

With the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the international community recognised the inherent dignity of all members of the human family by providing everyone with equal and inalienable rights. Communication rights are intrinsically bound up with the human condition and are based on a new, more powerful understanding of the implications of human rights and the role of communications. Without communication rights, human beings cannot live in freedom, justice, peace and dignity. The recognition of this universal human need has inspired us to set out a statement on communication rights based upon the key principles of Freedom, Inclusiveness, Diversity and Participation.

Communication rights remain for most of the world’s people a vision and an aspiration. They are not a reality on the ground. On the contrary, they are frequently and systematically violated. Governments must be constantly reminded that they are legally required under the human rights treaties they have ratified to implement, promote and protect communication rights. Communication rights are the expression of fundamental needs. The satisfaction of these needs requires a strong political will and the allocation of substantial resources. Lack of commitment to such resources serves only to deepen the global distrust of political institutions.

At the same time, full implementation of communication rights cannot depend only upon governments. Civil society has a key role to play in terms of advocacy for rights, in terms of monitoring and exposing rights abuse and in terms of educating and popularising rights.

Encouraging and facilitating people to assert these rights through different types of social action and to use them to realize the enormous potential of both the old and new technologies of media and communication, are vital tasks for all concerned people.

Excerpt from the Statement on Communication Rights.