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Strasbourg, 26 January 2011

MC-S-CI (2011)008_en





Draft Declaration of the Committee of Ministers on Internet governance principles

1. All Council of Europe member states have undertaken to secure to everyone within their jurisdiction the rights and freedoms protected by the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in accordance with article 1 of this convention. Council of Europe standards apply to the Internet and all other dimensions of the information society in the same way as they apply to offline activities.

2. The protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, participatory and democratic processes, transparency and accountability are all essential for and intrinsic to good governance. This is valid in respect of national and international regulatory activities as well as in the context of local and transnational bottom-up policy-making which may have an impact on the public interest.

3. The Internet enables people to have access to information and services, connect, communicate as well as share ideas and knowledge globally. It provides tools for participation and deliberation in political and other activities of public interest which promote democratic life. As a consequence the Internet can significantly enhance the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms such as the right to freedom of expression, a right which includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers, as well as the right to education, the right to assembly and the right to free elections. On the other hand, Internet creates opportunities for new forms of pervasiveness and interferences with these as well as the right to private life, human dignity, autonomous development and, in certain cases, even the right to life.

4. People rely on the Internet for their everyday activities and have a legitimate expectation that Internet services will be accessible and affordable, secure, reliable and ongoing. This has led the Council of Europe to recognise the public service value of the Internet and to recommend to member states measures to promote it (CM/REC(2007)16). The Internet is, in similar ways, a critical resource for numerous sectors of the economy and public administration. All in all, these expectations translate in different parts of the society looking to states to preserve the public interest in Internet-related policy making.

5. Moreover, in a cross-border context, states have a mutual expectation that fellow members of the international community will make every effort to preserve and promote the public service value of the Internet and should acknowledge the corresponding shared and reciprocal responsibility to take reasonable measures.

6. The impact of the Internet on society as a whole has been equally impressive. Through offering maximum possibilities for autonomous entrepreneurial resourcefulness at the edges, the Internet has become a powerful engine for technological innovation and economic growth. In addition, it provides a wide range of opportunities for preserving and promoting global cultural diversity and multilingualism as well as advancing on developmental goals.

7. In a people-centred approach to Internet, human rights and fundamental freedoms must be recognised by all stakeholders as fundamental values in the context of developing and applying shared principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures and programmes in respect of all aspects of the Internet.

8. As a transboundary network that is managed by wide-ranging and globally distributed entities, the Internet does not lend itself to regulation by any sole nation or private entity. In order to preserve it as a global platform for communication and innovation, the relationship between local Internet-related policies, on the one hand, and the global Internet, on the other hand, should be based on a set of guiding principles. These should not only recognise and uphold the basic tenets of the Internet as we know it today (universality, design principles, private sector leadership, network stability and resilience, multi-stakeholder participation) but should also lay the groundwork for any future engagement of all stakeholders in international Internet-related public policy.

9. The core objectives of the Council of Europe are to preserve and promote human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Against this background, the Committee of Ministers:

    - declares its firm commitment to the principles contained in this declaration which should be upheld by all member states in the context of developing Internet-related policies;

    - encourages other stakeholders to embrace them in the exercise of their responsibilities.

1. Human rights, democracy and rule of law

Internet governance arrangements must ensure the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms, in accordance with international law as well as full respect for democracy and rule of law. Compliance with international human rights law should be built into new technological through positive engagement of all actors to uphold rights and freedoms. All stakeholders should be aware of developments leading to enhancement of fundamental rights and freedoms and fully participate in efforts aimed at recognising new emerging rights.

2. Multi-stakeholder governance

Internet governance arrangements must ensure the participation of governments, the private sector, civil society and the technical community based on their specific roles and responsibilities

3. Universality of the Internet

All stakeholders have the responsibility to ensure that Internet-related policies recognise the universal nature of the Internet and do not impinge upon the global unimpeded flow of Internet content.

4. Stability, robustness and resilience of the Internet

Internet’s stability, robustness and resilience should be key objectives of Internet governance. In order to preserve the integrity and ongoing functioning of the Internet’s infrastructure as well as users’ trust and reliance on the Internet, it is necessary to promote international and multi-stakeholder cooperation.

5. Empowerment of Internet users

Users should be fully empowered to exercise their fundamental rights and freedoms, make informed decisions and participate in the information society in full confidence and freedom.

6. Preserving Internet’s architecture

The design principles of the Internet including openness, interoperability and the end-to-end nature should be preserved. These principles should guide all stakeholders in their decisions related to Internet governance.

7. Network neutrality

Users should have the greatest possible access to Internet-based content, applications and services of their choice, whether or not they are offered free of charge, using suitable devices of their choice. Filtering and traffic privileges should be justified by overriding public interest and must the requirements of international law on the protection for freedom of expression and access to information.

8. Innovation

Internet governance arrangements should be open to innovation.

9. Inclusive participation

International Internet-related public policies and Internet governance arrangements should ensure full and equal participation of all countries.

10. Cultural and linguistic diversity

Cultural and linguistic diversity and the development of local content, regardless of language or script, should be key objectives of Internet-related policy, international cooperation and development of new technologies.

11. Private sector leadership

The decentralised nature of the responsibility for the management of the Internet should be preserved. The private sector should retain its leading role in the technical and operational matters while ensuring transparency and being accountable to the Internet community for its actions that have an impact on public policy.

12. Responsibilities of states

States have rights and responsibilities for developing and implementing Internet-related public policy. In this regard, they should ensure full participation of the private sector and civil society.


This document will not be distributed at the meeting. Please bring this copy.