GE.18-11726(E)

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Human Rights Council Thirty-eighth session

18 June–6 July 2018 Agenda item 3

Resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council on 5 July 2018

38/7. The promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the

Internet

The Human Rights Council,

Guided by the Charter of the United Nations,

Reaffirming the human rights and fundamental freedoms enshrined in the Universal

Declaration of Human Rights and relevant international human rights treaties, including the

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on

Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,

Recalling all relevant resolutions of the Commission on Human Rights and the

Human Rights Council on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, in particular

Council resolutions 20/8 of 5 July 2012, 26/13 of 26 June 2014 and 32/13 of 1 July 2016 on

the promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet, and Council

resolutions 12/16 of 2 October 2009 on freedom of opinion and expression, 28/16 of 26

March 2015 and 34/7 of 23 March 2017 on the right to privacy in the digital age, 23/2 of 13

June 2013 on the role of freedom of opinion and expression in women’s empowerment, and

31/7 of 23 March 2016 on the rights of the child: information and communications

technologies and child sexual exploitation, and recalling also General Assembly resolutions

68/167 of 18 December 2013, 69/166 of 18 December 2014 and 71/199 of 19 December

2016 on the right to privacy in the digital age, 70/184 of 22 December 2015 on information

and communications technologies for development, and 70/125 of 16 December 2015

containing the outcome document of the high-level meeting of the General Assembly on the

overall review of the implementation of the outcomes of the World Summit on the

Information Society,

Welcoming the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and

recognizing that the spread of information and communications technology and global

interconnectedness has great potential to accelerate human progress, to bridge digital

divides and to develop knowledge societies,

Recalling that business enterprises have a responsibility to respect human rights as

set out in the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United

Nations “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework, and that the obligation and the

primary responsibility to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms lie

with the State,

United Nations A/HRC/RES/38/7

Taking note with appreciation of the report of the Office of the United Nations High

Commissioner for Human Rights entitled “Promotion, protection and enjoyment of human

rights on the Internet: ways to bridge the gender digital divide from a human rights

perspective”1 and of the recommendations contained therein, in particular with regard to

combating gender-based violence online,

Bearing in mind previous relevant reports of the Special Rapporteur on the

promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and of the

Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy,

Noting the launch by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational,

Scientific and Cultural Organization of a process to develop an Internet universality

indicator framework to assess the contribution to sustainable development from an Internet

based on respect for human rights, openness and accessibility to all and guided by multi-

stakeholder participation,

Noting also the Global Multi-stakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet

Governance, held in São Paulo, Brazil, on 23 and 24 April 2014, at which participants

acknowledged, inter alia, the need for human rights to underpin Internet governance, and

that the rights that people have offline must also be protected online, and the session of the

Internet Governance Forum held in Geneva from 18 to 21 December 2017, and previous

sessions of the Forum,

Noting further the importance of building confidence and trust in the Internet, not

least with regard to freedom of opinion and expression, privacy and other human rights, so

that the potential of the Internet as, inter alia, an enabler for development and innovation

can be realized, with full cooperation between Governments, civil society, the private sector,

the technical community and academia,

Expressing concern at the increasing use, in a globalized society, by terrorists and

their supporters, of information and communications technology, and noting in this regard

that the prevention and suppression of terrorism is a public interest of great importance,

while reaffirming that States must ensure that any measures taken to combat terrorism are

in compliance with their obligations under international law, in particular international

human rights law, international refugee law and international humanitarian law,

Recognizing that privacy online is important for the realization of the right to

freedom of expression and to hold opinions without interference, and the right to freedom

of peaceful assembly and association,

Emphasizing that, in the digital age, technical solutions to secure and protect the

confidentiality of digital communications, including measures for encryption and

anonymity, can be important to ensure the enjoyment of human rights, in particular the

rights to privacy, to freedom of expression and to freedom of peaceful assembly and

association,

Emphasizing also that access to information on the Internet facilitates vast

opportunities in many spheres of life, including for affordable and inclusive education

globally, and is therefore an important tool to facilitate promotion of the right to education,

while underlining the need to address digital literacy and the digital divides, as they affect

the enjoyment of the right to education, and underlining also the important role that

international cooperation can play in this regard,

Expressing concern that many forms of digital divide remain between and within

countries, and between men and women and boys and girls, and recognizing the need to

close them, including through international cooperation, and recognizing also that the

gender digital divide, which includes significant gender disparities in access to and use of

information and communications technology, undermines women’s full enjoyment of their

human rights,

1 A/HRC/35/9.

Recognizing that violations and abuses of women’s rights online are a growing

global concern that hinder the equal exercise and enjoyment of human rights and

fundamental freedoms on the basis of gender, and may deter women from using

information and communications technology, which can exacerbate the gender digital

divide and widen gender inequalities in society,

Stressing the importance of empowering all women and girls by enhancing their

access to information and communications technology, by promoting digital literacy and

the participation of women and girls in education and training on information and

communications technology, and by encouraging women and girls to embark on careers in

the sciences and in information and communications technology,

Recalling articles 9 and 21 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with

Disabilities, which, inter alia, call upon States parties to take appropriate measures to

promote access for persons with disabilities to new information and communications

technology and systems, including the Internet,

Recognizing that, for the Internet to remain global, open and interoperable, it is

imperative that States address security concerns in accordance with their international

human rights obligations, in particular with regard to freedom of opinion and expression,

freedom of association and privacy,

Noting with concern the various forms of undue restriction of freedom of opinion

and expression online, including where States have manipulated or suppressed online

expression in violation of international law,

Expressing concern at the spread of disinformation and propaganda on the Internet,

which can be designed and implemented so as to mislead, to violate human rights and

privacy and to incite violence, hatred, discrimination or hostility,

Concerned at the arbitrary or unlawful collection, retention, processing and use or

disclosure of personal data on the Internet, which could violate or abuse human rights,

Deeply concerned at all human rights violations and abuses committed against

persons for exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms on the Internet, and the

impunity for these violations and abuses,

Deeply concerned also at measures in violation of international human rights law

that aim to or that intentionally prevent or disrupt access to or dissemination of information

online,

Emphasizing the particular risks with regard to the safety of journalists in the digital

age, including the particular vulnerability of journalists to becoming targets of unlawful or

arbitrary surveillance and/or interception of communications, in violation of their rights to

privacy and to freedom of expression,

Stressing the importance of applying a human rights-based approach when providing

and expanding access to the Internet, and of the Internet being open, accessible and

nurtured by multi-stakeholder participation,

Recognizing that international human rights law should guide private sector actors

and be the basis for their policies,

Considering the key importance of government engagement with all relevant

stakeholders, including civil society, the private sector, the technical community and

academia, in promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms online,

1. Affirms that the same rights that people have offline must also be protected

online, in particular freedom of expression, which is applicable regardless of frontiers and

through any media of one’s choice, in accordance with article 19 of the Universal

Declaration of Human Rights and of the International Covenant on Civil and Political

Rights;

2. Recognizes the global and open nature of the Internet as a driving force in

accelerating progress towards development in its various forms, including in achieving the

Sustainable Development Goals;

3. Calls upon all States to promote and facilitate international cooperation

aimed at the development of media and information and communication facilities and

technology in all countries;

4. Affirms that quality education plays a decisive role in development, and

therefore calls upon all States to promote digital literacy and to facilitate access to

information on the Internet for all children, which can be an important tool in facilitating

the promotion of the right to education, and to support similar learning modules outside of

schools;

5. Calls upon all States to bridge the digital divides, including the gender digital

divide, and to enhance the use of information and communications technology, in order to

promote the full enjoyment of human rights for all, including by:

(a) Fostering an enabling online environment that is safe and conducive to

engagement by all, without discrimination and with consideration for individuals facing

systemic inequalities;

(b) Maintaining and enhancing efforts to promote access to information on the

Internet as one means of facilitating affordable and inclusive education globally,

underlining the need to address digital literacy and the digital divides;

(c) Promoting equal opportunities, including gender equality, in the design and

implementation of information and communications technology and in mainstreaming a

gender perspective in policy decisions and the frameworks that guide them;

(d) Applying a comprehensive human rights-based approach in providing and

expanding access to information and communications technology, and promoting, in

consultation with all sections of society, including business enterprises and civil society

actors, policies and guidelines for information and communications technology that include

specific attention to gender considerations;

6. Calls upon States to ensure effective remedies for human rights violations,

including those relating to the Internet, in accordance with their international obligations;

7. Encourages all States to take appropriate measures to promote, with the

participation of persons with disabilities, the design, development, production and

distribution of information and communications technology and systems, including

assistive and adaptive technologies, that are accessible to persons with disabilities;

8. Calls upon all States to address security concerns on the Internet in

accordance with their international human rights obligations to ensure the protection of all

human rights online, in particular freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of

association and privacy, including through democratic and transparent national institutions,

based on the rule of law, in a way that ensures freedom and security on the Internet so that

it can continue to be a vibrant force that generates economic, social and cultural

development;

9. Encourages business enterprises to work towards enabling technical solutions

to secure and protect the confidentiality of digital communications, which may include

measures for encryption and anonymity, and calls upon States not to interfere with the use

of such technical solutions, with any restrictions thereon complying with States’ obligations

under international human rights law;

10. Condemns unequivocally all human rights violations and abuses such as

torture, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and arbitrary detention, expulsion,

intimidation and harassment, as well as trafficking in persons, and sexual and gender-based

violence, committed against persons for exercising their human rights and fundamental

freedoms on the Internet, and calls upon all States to ensure accountability in this regard;

11. Also condemns unequivocally online attacks against women, including sexual

and gender-based violence and abuse of women, in particular where women journalists,

media workers, public officials or others engaging in public debate are targeted for their

expression, and calls for gender-sensitive responses that take into account the particular

forms of online discrimination;

12. Calls upon States to create and maintain, in law and in practice, a safe and

enabling online environment for the enjoyment of human rights so that journalists may

perform their work independently and without undue or unlawful interference, including by

allowing them to secure their communications and to protect the confidentiality of their

sources;

13. Condemns unequivocally measures in violation of international human rights

law that prevent or disrupt an individual’s ability to seek, receive or impart information

online, calls upon all States to refrain from and to cease such measures, and also calls upon

States to ensure that all domestic laws, policies and practices are consistent with their

international human rights obligations with regard to freedom of opinion and expression

online;

14. Condemns all undue restrictions on freedom of opinion and expression online

that violate international law, and notes with concern that such restrictions have a

significant impact on women and girls and other individuals who may face multiple and

intersecting forms of discrimination;

15. Stresses the importance of combating advocacy of hatred on the Internet,

which constitutes incitement to discrimination or violence, including by promoting

tolerance, education and dialogue;

16. Calls upon States, while fully respecting their human rights obligations and

commitments regarding freedom of opinion and expression, to encourage media training,

educational campaigns and other efforts aimed at identifying and raising awareness about

information online that may be deliberately misleading or false;

17. Urges States to adopt, implement and, where necessary, reform laws,

regulations, policies and other measures concerning personal data and privacy protection

online in order to prevent, mitigate and remedy the arbitrary or unlawful collection,

retention, processing, use or disclosure of personal data on the Internet that could violate

human rights;

18. Calls upon all States to consider formulating, through transparent and

inclusive processes with all stakeholders, and adopting national Internet-related public

policies that have at their core the objective of universal access and the enjoyment of

human rights;

19. Encourages the special procedures to take these issues into account within

their existing mandates, as applicable;

20. Decides to continue its consideration of the promotion, protection and

enjoyment of human rights, including the right to freedom of expression, on the Internet

and with other information and communications technology, and of how the Internet can be

an important tool for fostering citizen and civil society participation, for the realization of

development in every community and for exercising human rights, in accordance with its

programme of work.

37th meeting

5 July 2018

[Adopted without a vote.]