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

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Version française de notre livre sur la liberté d'expression sur Internet publié

A year after Wolfgang Benedek's and my book on Freedom of Expression and the Internet was published with Council of Europe Publishing we are excited to announce that the French translation which has been in the making for some time has been completed earlier this year and the book is now available to any interested francophone readers. 

It is very import to make the book available to non-English speakers or those who prefer content in their native French. This should ensure that our approach to Freedom of Expression online based on the protection of the European Convention on Human Rights and the jurisprudence of the Strasbourg Court can now be read in the traditional language of international diplomacy. 

Liberté d'expression et internet (2014)
Wolfgang Benedek et Matthias C. Kettemann 

It's competitively priced and available as pdf epubmobi - and of course in the traditional form.

From the publisher's website:

"L’expansion d’internet a engendré une croissance exponentielle des possibilités de s’exprimer, mais elle a aussi multiplié les dangers qui menacent la liberté d’expression. Du Printemps arabe au mouvement mondial Occupy, la liberté d’expression sur internet a une profonde incidence sur des débats décisifs pour notre avenir. Parallèlement, les États sont de plus en plus nombreux à recourir à internet pour espionner des journalistes et des citoyens journalistes, poursuivre et emprisonner des blogueurs, et exercer une censure en ligne. 
Cet ouvrage répond à des questions essentielles concernant la portée et les limites de la liberté d’expression en ligne. Il cherche à porter un éclairage sur un paysage souvent obscur : qu’avons-nous le droit de dire en ligne ? Comment sont protégés nos idées et le processus de diffusion et de réception des informations ? 
Il expose le large éventail des droits protégés par la liberté d’expression, dont la liberté des médias et le droit d’accéder à des informations par le biais d’internet. Il souligne aussi l’importance des initiatives d’organisations internationales et non gouvernementales visant à définir des règles, et à assurer leur suivi et leur promotion. Un chapitre consacré aux pratiques nationales rapporte les réactions de différents pays confrontés à la difficulté d’assurer la liberté d’expression pour tous à l’ère d’internet. Alors que la Toile occupe de plus en plus de place dans notre quotidien, ce livre est une ressource précieuse pour comprendre les droits et les obligations de chaque acteur d’internet : États, entreprises et société civile."


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Just published: European Yearbook on Human Rights 2015

ISBN: 978-3-7083-1040-4, 582 pages, 2015


  • European Yearbook on Human Rights 2015

  • Wolfgang Benedek / Florence Benoît-Rohmer / Matthias C. Kettemann / Benjamin Kneihs / Manfred Nowak

  • Publisher's website

2014 was a year of transition and controversy in Europe: a new Parliament and new Commission were constituted and Opinion 2/13 of the Court of Justice of the European Union on the EU’s accession to the European Convention on Human Rights raised serious questions about the coherence of and cooperation between Europe’s human rights protection regimes. Especially in times of the socio-political conflicts that are connected to Europe’s austerity politics, the challenges to human rights grow. It is important to provide the policy-makers and diplomats but also researchers and citizens with cutting-edge research into the practice of human rights protection. This is what the European Yearbook on Human Rights 2015 sets out to do.

Across 38 contributions by 61 authors in five sections, the seventh edition of the Yearbook explains and contextualizes key developments in human rights in Europe and the world.
Edited jointly by representatives of four major European human rights research, teaching and training institutions, the Yearbook 2015 contains, as usual, a Topic of the Year section, and covers all relevant political and legal developments in the field of the three main organizations charged with securing human rights in Europe: EU, Council of Europe and OSCE. A section on cross-cutting topics concludes the Yearbook.

The biggest news regarding institutional protection of human rights in Europe is undoubtedly Opinion 2/13 of the Court of Justice of the European Union which dashed the hopes of many European human rights lawyers for a quick completion of the EU accession to the European Convention on Human Rights. The CJEU raised a number of complicated issues related to the autonomy of the EU’s legal order, the disputes settlement monopoly of the CJEU, the mechanism provided for EU involvement in Strasbourg, the prior-involvement-procedure and the problems of judicial review of questions regarding the Common Foreign and Security Policy. This Yearbook extensively covers the opinion in the first section, Topic of the Year.

See the exciting table of contents here and below.
Table of Contents

I Topics of the Year ................................................................ 25
Paul GRAGL
The Reasonableness of Jealousy: Opinion 2/13 and EU
Accession to the ECHR ............................................................................. 27

Elisabeth STEINER and Ioana RĂTESCU
The Long Way to Strasbourg – The Impact of the CJEU’s Opinion
on the EU’s Accession to the ECHR ........................................................ 51

Maria BERGER und Clara RAUCHEGGER
Opinion 2/13: Multiple Obstacles to the Accession of the EU to
the ECHR .................................................................................................... 61


II European Union .................................................................... 77
Wolfgang BENEDEK
EU Human and Fundamental Rights Action in 2014 .............................. 79
Hans-Peter FOLZ
The Court of Justice of the European Union and Human Rights in 2013-2014.................................................................................................. 105
Theodor RATHGEBER
Human Rights à la Carte: The EU at the UN Human Rights
Council in 2014......................................................................................... 125

Gosia PEARSON
Assessment of the Implementation of the EU Human Rights
Strategy and Action Plan as Regard Business and Human Rights .... 135

11
Table of Contents Valentina CAGNIN
The Potential Role of the Horizontal Social Clause (Article 9
TFEU) on Social Rights Protection ........................................................ 143

Karin LUKAS
The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the European Social Charter – an Alliance for Social Rights?................................................ 153
Ewelina TYLEC
The Influence of Economic Crisis on Fundamental Rights in the European Union: A Step Forward or Step Backwards? ....................... 165
Moritz BIRK and Gerrit ZACH
Torture Prevention in the EU – Many Actors, Few Outcomes? ........... 175
Grazia REDOLFI
European Union’s Attitude Towards Reproductive Rights: Clear
Policy or Double Standards Approach ................................................. 189

Denise VENTURI
The Body as an Instrument of Border Control: Remarks on Age Assessment for Unaccompanied Migrant Children ............................. 201
Rocío ALAMILLOS SÁNCHEZ
EU Sanctions Policy: A New Human Rights Tool? The Case of Belarus ..................................................................................................... 213
Nicolas HACHEZ and Jan WOUTERS
Introducing FRAME: A Large-Scale Research Project on the
European Union and Human Rights ...................................................... 227

Katharina HÄUSLER and Alexandra TIMMER
Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law in EU External
Action: Conceptualization and Practice ............................................... 231

Balázs MAJTÉNYI
The Nation’s Will as Trump in the Hungarian Fundamental Law ........ 247
Felipe GÓMEZ ISA and María NAGORE CASAS
EU Member States Under the Universal Periodic Review of the
Human Rights Council: Achievements and Challenges ...................... 261

page2image15176
Carolina PAVESE, Jan WOUTERS and Katrien MEUWISSEN
The European Union and Brazil in the Quest for the Global
Promotion of Human Rights: Prospects for a Strategic
Partnership .............................................................................................. 279

Viljam ENGSTRÖM and Mikaela HEIKKILÄ
Lisbonising Back and Forth? Strategic Planning and
Fundamental Rights in the AFSJ............................................................ 295

Veronika APOSTOLOVSKI, Isabella MEIER, Markus MÖSTL, Klaus STARL and Maddalena VIVONA
Measuring Human Rights in EU Practice: Realities and
Requirements ........................................................................................... 307


III Council of Europe .............................................................. 317
Brigitte OHMS, Dominik HAIDER, Elisabeth HANDL-PETZ, Martina LAIS and Sebastian SCHOLZ
The Jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights in
2014: A Year of Consolidation ................................................................ 319

Amalie BANG
Recent Developments in Whistleblower Protection in Europe ........... 343
Jonas GRIMHEDEN and Gabriel N. TOGGENBURG
Fundamental Rights in EU Criminal Justice Instruments: How to
Best Make the Glass Slipper Fit? ........................................................... 355

Adina PORTARU
The “Rights and Freedoms of Others” vs. Religious
Manifestations: Who Wins at the ECtHR? ............................................. 367

Zane RATNIECE and Kushtrim ISTREFI
The Limits of the Strasbourg Court’s Two-Level Harmonization Approach vis-à-vis SC Resolutions in Al-Dulimi .................................. 379
Philip CZECH
European Human Rights in International Military Operations............. 391
Sarah LAMBRECHT
The Brexit Scenario: Potential Consequences of a Withdrawal of
the UK from the European Convention on Human Rights .................. 407


IV OSCE.................................................................................... 421
Manfred NOWAK
Torture, Enforced Disappearances and Extrajudicial Killings in
the OSCE Region ..................................................................................... 423

Eva Katinka SCHMIDT and Vasily VASHCHANKA
Judicial Performance Evaluation and Judicial Independence: International Standards for an Appropriate Balance............................ 435
Irina URUMOVA
The Role of Social Inclusion in Preventing Victimization: What
We Know and What We Don’t Know ...................................................... 445

Lucile SENGLER
Foreign Terrorist Fighters: A Human Rights Perspective.................... 453
Martina ORLANDI
Wartime Sexual Violence: The Route to Accountability Between International Justice and Political Commitments ................................ 467
Kateryna RYABIKO and Marcin WALECKI
A Right to Political Participation Beyond Elections ............................. 479
Andrei RICHTER
The Relationship between Freedom of Expression and the Ban
on Propaganda for War ........................................................................... 489


V Cross-Cutting Issues........................................................... 505
Klaus STARL, Veronika APOSTOLOVSKI and Ingrid NICOLETTI
Human Rights Education for the Judiciary: An Assessment of a
Decade of Training Experience ............................................................. 507

Tessa SCHREMPF
An Economy to Feed (on) Human Beings? Human Rights and the Responsibility to Counteract .................................................................. 517
Patrick HARRIS
Prisoners: Disenfranchised with Dignity? Searching the Legal
and the Theoretical to Find the Cure for Europe’s Ailing Right to
Vote ........................................................................................................... 533


VI Book Reviews ..................................................................... 551
Biographies....................................................................................................... 567
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Tracing Normative Influence: From the Charter of Internet Rights and Principles to the Italian Declaration of Internet Rights

One of the key bottom-up normative approaches regarding human rights online in the last years was the Internet Rights & Principles Coalition's Charter of Human Rights and Principles for the Internet. The Charter has been a very influential document in the framing of the debate on human rights online. 

In a blog post on the Coalition's site, which I am reproducing below, I argue that the influence has also been substantial for the most recent national multi-stakeholder effort to frame the role of human rights online (and Internet governance).

"On 28 July 2015, Laura Boldrini, the speaker of Italy’s House of Deputies announced the publication of Italian Declaration of Internet Rights. She called it the “first time that a parliament produces a declaration on Internet rights of constitutional inspiration and international scope”. Drawn up in a multistakeholder process the drafting phase also included multiple drafts, the last of which was also discussed on the IRP list in March of this year. 
The study commission behind the Declaration was led by Prof. Stefano Rodotà and included experts such as Juan Carlos De Martin, co-founder and co-director of the Nexa Center for Internet & Society (read more on the process here). Though the Declaration is an impressive document on its own, Prof. De Martin confirmed that the Commission’s first step was to synthesize “previous efforts”. He especially highlighted the importance of the IRPC’s Charter of Human Rights and Principles of the Internet, as being “the most important and mature” normative efforts towards stratifying human rights on the Internet. “After one year of work, a 5-month public consultation and 46 hearings, the study commission has shared with the international community a potential blueprint for an Internet Constitution”, Professor de Martin explains. “As private and public powers increase their presence in our common digital space we urgently need to assert and protect the rights of citizens online to preserve both democracy and freedom,” he adds. 
 Not only was the IRPC Charter a source of inspiration for the Italian Declaration, but both documents share similar approaches to human rights and their role in furthering a people-centred and sustainable information society. Charter and Declaration also transcend the artificial separation of social and economic and civil and political rights.
In particular, the Italian Declaration reaffirms that all fundamental rights apply offline just as online (Art. 1) and that every person has a right to Internet access (Art. 2). Innovative codifications include Art. 6. on the right to informational self-determination and Art. 9 on the right to be forgotten. Art. 14 gives a nod to the international dimension of protecting human rights online by providing that “Internet rules” on all levels need to be human rights-sensitive.What is also striking is the holistic focus on human rights and the centrality of the right to access. Article 1, para. 1., cleverly incorporates existing human rights law by referencing the UDHR, the EU’s Fundamental Rights Charter, “national constitutions and other relevant international declaration”. These “shall be protected on the Internet”. This allows the authors to refrain from reiterating the rights and allows for certain flexibility, but does leave some normative uncertainty as to the concrete rights referred to. There are, after all a lot of “relevant international declaration”, especially if you count, as you should, those by stakeholders other than states, including the IRPC’s Charter. 
But the Commission has chosen to take a different normative route focusing on new rights (informational self-determination) and Internet-related concepts (net neutrality). Its starting point, however, is a locus classicus: access. The Declaration underlines, in Art. 2, para. 1, that access to the Internet is a “fundamental right of all persons and a condition for their individual and social development”. This is in line with a broader trend on both the international and the European level away from the consideration of freedom of expression and privacy as über-rights on the Internet and towards the realization that all human rights are interdependent, interrelated and mutually reinforcing – offline just as online. 
Indeed, being able to access the Internet – and Internet content – is an essential condition for personal and social development, not only for the expression of one’s views. Threats to access are threats not only to freedom of expression, but rather to the whole gamut of human rights. Art. 2., para. 2, provides that all persons “shall have the same right to access the Internet on equal terms, using appropriate and up‐to‐date technologies that remove all economic and social barriers.” Though it is unclear to me whether it primarily technologies that remove social barriers. Isn’t it rather social barriers, such as poverty, that impede access to technologies? 
We need social change to ensure that digital divides to not continue to broaden – and, admittedly, technology can help in that. And more importantly, in the usage of technology, poverty or minority status or membership in a disadvantaged group must not impede access. This thought also carries Art. 3, para. 3, of the  Declaration: “The fundamental right to Internet access must be ensured with respect  to  its  substantive  prerequisites,  not only as the mere possibility of connecting to the Internet.” Access to the Internet and access to Internet content go hand in hand. The Italian Declration on Internet Rights is a helpful reminder."

Read the whole Declaration here.
For more on the Italian Declaration, see Stefan Rodotà’s article here.

(Disclaimer: I used to be Co-Chair of the Coalition and am now a Steering Committee member. I am also, with Wolfgang Benedek, co-translator of the German translation of the Charter.)