Swedish success in Geneva for freedom of expression on the Internet

September 30th, 2011   Foreign Policy

In Thursday, the UN Human Rights Council adopted by consensus a decision to arrange a panel discussion on freedom of expression on the Internet at its next session in March 2012. The decision was adopted on the initiative of Sweden, with the support of over fifty states from throughout the world. This will be the first time that the Council discusses the issue of freedom of expression on the Internet.

“This is a major success for Sweden, which has pushed for the human rights issue to apply online as well as offline”, says Carl Bildt, Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Earlier this year, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue, presented a report on freedom of expression on the Internet. At the UN Human Rights Council’s session in June, Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt gave a speech in support of several of the conclusions presented in La Rue’s report. Sweden’s address won the support of a number of influential countries, including India, Brazil and South Africa.

This is the background to how, at its 18th session which will conclude today, the Council was able to decide to invite a panel of experts and representatives of governments, the UN system, the business sector and civil society to discuss the issue. This means that the issue of freedom of expression on the Internet will be placed on the agenda of the UN Human Rights Council for the first time.

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