Experts dialogue on rights online

14 October 2014

The 12th Informal Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Seminar on Human Rights concludes that offline rights apply online

18 July, Singapore: The 12th Informal ASEM Seminar on Human Rights brought together about 120 Asian and European delegates from national regulatory authorities, technology promotion bodies, diplomats, human rights activists and internet experts over three days at the end of June.

The Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) and the governments of France, the Philippines and Sweden--through the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law—organised the seminar in cooperation with the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT) and the National Human Rights Commission of Korea.

Mr Kim Sung-han, Second Minister of the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, remarked: "The impact of ICT on human rights is like a double-edged sword. While offering new opportunities and benefits, it also poses new challenges. The task that we now face is to expand the opportunities and benefits provided by ICT and to address the various challenges we face in the information society through determined action".

Given the multiple stakeholders involved, participants emphasised that the rights, duties and responsibilities of all stakeholders need to be clearly defined. Participants also agreed that existing offline human rights safeguards should apply online.

Agnés Callamard, Executive Director of ARTICLE 19 observed in her keynote speech that "International human rights that were developed and agreed before the IT revolution apply to the on-line world as well… any restrictions to freedom of expression on-line must be clearly and narrowly defined, necessary in a democratic society, and proportionate".

The organisers conveyed a summary of recommendations [] to the governments of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM). ASEM leaders will meet in early November in Vientiane, Laos to discuss a broad range of political, economic and socio-cultural issues.

"This Seoul Seminar has set a benchmark for future human rights dialogue in the ASEM framework’ noted Ambassador Michel Filhol, ASEF Executive Director. ‘We express the hope that Korea will continue to participate to the in-coming seminars with the same commitment it has demonstrated here in Seoul."

Independent rapporteurs are writing a full report of discussions with a publication of proceedings expected by the end of the year. The ASEF website provides updates online []