I would like to welcome all of you to the “Internet 2013: Shaping policies to advance media freedom” conference, organized by the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović. I am pleased to note that conference attracted attention of a large number of representatives from governments, media, academia, industry, civil society as well as legislators and policymakers.
The Internet 2013 Conference offers an excellent opportunity to explore key issues related to Internet Freedom. The conference includes panel discussions on many relevant topics ranging from freedom of expression and hate speech to the future of copyright online and liability for comments on news sites.
Free, independent and pluralistic media are essential for a democratic society. In the 1975 Helsinki Final Act the participating States recognized that the free flow of information was critical to improving relations among the states.
Following the adoption of the Helsinki Final Act the media landscape has changed rapidly. The Internet and other networked technologies have offered to people all over the world a new platform for exercising their right to freedom of opinion and expression. It has become an indispensable tool for all citizens to seek, receive and impart information.
A major challenge of our time is safeguarding and fostering media pluralism. The Internet as the first truly global medium, embodies the commitment to free media.
In our view, to ensure a sustainable, people-centered and rights-based approach to the Internet, it is necessary to affirm the principles of Internet governance. The Internet governance must ensure the protection of all fundamental rights and freedoms and affirm their universality, indivisibility, interdependence and interrelation in accordance with international human rights law. The Internet should remain an open, global and public forum for freedom of opinion and expression and a platform for facilitating the exercise of other human rights and fundamental freedoms.
At the same time there is a need to tackle challenges as legitimate concerns stem from the availability of terrorist propaganda, racist and sexually explicit content, as well as content defined as hate speech and others.
Efficient implementation of OSCE commitments in the area of media freedom remains an integral part of the OSCE’s concept of comprehensive security. As underlined by the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office H.E. Mr.Leonid Kozhara observance of commitments by all participating States on human rights, democracy and the rule of law will be at the top of the Ukrainian Chairmanship’s agenda. The Ukrainian Chairmanship has identified media freedom as one of its priorities for 2013 and we have proposed to hold a special event on this important issue.
We are here today not only to exchange views about the Internet, a constantly evolving technology that has opened new worlds of communications to us. The aim of the Conference is to move towards a clearer understanding of existing OSCE commitments regarding the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of the media, and their application to the Internet and other connective technologies.
We are convinced that the commitments to free media and the free flow of information first addressed in the Helsinki Final Act remain pertinent in today’s world, the future of free media is inexorably tied to a free Internet.
Access to digital networks and Internet must be fostered. The right to disseminate and to receive information is a basic human right. It is highly important to safeguard that no matter what technical means are used to seek and impart information, the basic constitutional value of the freedom of the media must not be questioned.
I wish all of the participants a stimulating and practical discussion and look forward to the recommendations that will be developed in your debates at this Conference.
Once again, I welcome all of you to Vienna for this important event.
Thank you for your attention.
14 February 2013