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3 December – Opening of the UN Internet Governance Forum in Hyderabad, India

Statement by Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, Deputy Secretary General

Strasbourg, 02.12.2008 – “The horror of the attacks in Mumbai is still fresh in everyone’s mind. They are a tragic reminder of the times we live in. Terrorist kill people because they want to destroy freedom. Their cause is doomed, but the danger they represent is real and we all have the obligation to do everything within our power to stop them. Before they kill more people. Before a new Mumbai.

I want to use this opportunity to convey, on behalf of the Council of Europe and in my name, a message of deepest condolence and sympathy to the families of the victims and to the people of India.

I also deeply regret that the attacks have prevented me, and my colleagues, to attend the IGF but I can assure you that we are determined to stay involved in the effort for an improved Internet governance. We may not be physically in Hyderabad, but rest assured that the Council of Europe will make its contribution. We strongly support the IGF process, and we want this to be very clear. The European Dialogue on Internet Governance that we facilitated in Strasbourg earlier this year in view of Hyderabad was unambiguous in that respect, and we are ready to facilitate it again next year before the next IGF.

In the Council of Europe, we strive for Internet governance which is guided by – and is able to protect and promote – the values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. These are the very values which define the freedom that the killers of Mumbai were set to destroy. And this is really what sets our mandate – to make sure our world - the real and the virtual one - are both safe and free. Let’s not forget that the Internet is often misused or a vehicle to commit the worst acts.

The Council of Europe approach is very down to earth. We look at specific problems and work to solve them. This is the thinking behind our legal instruments such as the Cybercrime Convention, the Conventions on data protection and protection of children against sexual exploitation and abuse, or our action against the commerce of counterfeit medicines. We work to minimise the risks but also to maximise the potential of the Internet to improve the quality of life, including of disabled persons.

The Internet has a huge importance for economic, social and cultural development. It represents a critical global resource, and should be protected as such, including through international law. The Council of Europe is ready to do its part to contribute to an accessible, free, sustainable, robust and secure Internet.

I want to conclude with an idea: I wish we could all agree, perhaps in the context of a new treaty, on certain minimum principles and states’ undertakings, including positive obligations, to ensure the ongoing functioning of the Internet in a cross-border context, as a means of promoting the exercise and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms and of democratic citizenship.

      We will certainly think this idea through at the Council of Europe and in our future discussions with our partners around the world, starting with the IGF of course, which we see as a catalyst for a multi-stakeholder dialogue on Internet Governance.”

A political organisation set up in 1949, the Council of Europe works to promote democracy and human rights continent-wide. It also develops common responses to social, cultural and legal challenges in its 47 member states.