UNESCO Seeks Feedback on Universality of the Internet


The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is seeking feedback from stakeholders on  its project on “Internet Universality”. This is in the context of the comprehensive study into internet issues which was mandated by the 37th General Conference in November 2013.

In accordance with Resolution 52 at the conference, the Study must be done, through an inclusive multi-stakeholder process which includes governments, civil society, international organizations, private sector and the technical community.

The comprehensive study focuses on online access to information and knowledge, freedom of expression, privacy and ethical dimensions of the Internet, as decided in Resolution 52 of the 37th General Conference. An earlier version of the “Internet Universality” concept has been canvassed in 2013 through a series of consultations at 10 international fora, as well as with UNESCO’s different sectors.

As part of this process, feedback is sought on “Internet Universality” as a paramount factor to identify the key elements of the Internet for UNESCO, and bring to light how the Internet can advance Knowledge Societies.

Respect for the four principles of human rights, openness, accessibility, and multi-stakeholder participatory is a precondition for the Internet to be universal: The four principles can be summarized by the mnemonic R – O – A – M (Rights-based, Open, Accessible, Multi-stakeholder driven). By summarizing the four principles which are extant in accepted UNESCO texts on the Internet, the notion of “Internet universality” provides a vision of a universalized Internet aligned with UNESCO’s mandate and values.

By bringing together UNESCO’s existing positions, the concept of “Internet Universality” helps to frame much of UNESCO’s Internet-related work in education, culture, science, social science and communication-information for the strategic period of 2014-2021. It offers a common point of reference for enhanced synergies between sectors. In addition, the concept highlights what each organization can bring to the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

The draft concept will be discussed as part of the broader consultation meetings on the Comprehensive Study that will take place after the 194th session of the Executive Board in April 2014.