A blog on why norms matter online

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I'm a Post-Doc Fellow at the Cluster of Excellence "Normative Orders" of the University of Frankfurt and lecturer at the Institute of International Law of the University of Graz, Austria. I've studied international law in Graz, Geneva and at Harvard Law School. I enjoy thinking and writing about Internet Governance and discussing and shaping the future of the Internet

Monday, September 16, 2013

Cyberspace - a terra incognita for human rights? A conference in Cambridge sheds some light on the question

If you're in terra incognita, it's great to have signs ...
then again, if you have signs, it's not really terra
incognita per se - just terra incognita for you.
I've been invited to contribute to an Joint Council of Europe/Harvard University conference next week dedicated to the theme of managing the transatlantic human rights relationship: "Divided by a Common Heritage: Human Rights in Europe and the United States”.

My panel will be dedicated to "Cyberspace: Terra Incognita of Human Rights? European and U.S. Experiences” with Yochai Benkler, Professor of Law, Harvard Law School; Julie Cohen, Professor of Law, Georgetown Law School, Washington DC; myself and Rolf H. Weber, Professor for Civil, Commercial and European Law, University of Zurich, Switzerland; with Philip Heymann, James Barr Ames Professor of Law, Harvard Law School, moderating.

Of course, cyberspace is not really "terra incognita" of human rights. The term might refer to unknown, unexplored or uncartographed areas (of land or human knowledge). Cyberspace is not unknown to human rights (just think of the HRC Resolution 20/8 confirming that all human rights that apply offline also apply online). It is not unexplored (but arguably underexplored), as there are quite a number of publications dedicating themselves specifically to the role of human rights on cyberspace. Similarly, the role of human rights online are non uncartographed, but again under- and miscartographed.

We can agree, therefore, that cyberspace is not terra incognita but terra not quite enough cognita for human rights.

At the conference I will be making a couple of points regarding the importance of transatlantic cooperation in the pursuance of common goals relating to Internet Governance. I'll blog about them in the next days.

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