Communication rights ‘central’ to the future of the Information Society
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Communication rights ‘central’ to the future of the Information Society


A UNESCO meeting at the end of February offered civil society an opportunity to reclaim the place of communication rights in the global information and communication society, WACC Director Dr Stephen Brown said in a presentation at a symposium in Germany.

The UNESCO meeting taking place in Paris from 25-27 February reviewed progress made since the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) held in two sessions in Geneva (2003) and Tunis (2005). The recommendations from the Paris meeting on WSIS +10 will feed into further United Nations deliberations and into the review of the Millennium Development Goals.

WACC was active at the original WSIS meetings as part of the Communication Rights in the Information Society Campaign (CRIS). It will also be represented at the UNESCO meeting in partnership with, a Geneva-based network promoting global dialogue on ethics.

Speaking at a symposium on “Communication Rights for All – Communication rights and media,” held at the University of Erlangen in early February, Brown underlined the need for civil society to claim and reclaim spaces of debate and dialogue about the future of the information society.

He highlighted the statement on “Reclaiming communication for life, justice and peace” from a 2012 consultation in Busan, South Korea, including WACC and the World Council of Churches. This reaffirmed the place of communication rights in claiming:


• spaces and resources in the public sphere for all to engage in transparent, informed and democratic debate;

• unfettered access to the information and knowledge essential to democracy, empowerment, responsible citizenship and mutual accountability;

• political, social and cultural environments that encourage the free exchange of a diversity of creative ideas, knowledge and cultural products;

• and the need to ensure a diversity of cultural identities that together enhance and enrich the common good.

“Communication rights, therefore, are active and not passive rights,” said Brown, who is also vice-president of WACC Europe, and a programme executive at WACC partner

“Here it is not just a question of allocating civil society organizations a place in events such as the World Summit on the Information Society,” he added, “but civil society itself needs to become active, claiming and reclaiming spaces of debate and dialogue.”

The Erlangen symposium was jointly organized by WACC and the Department of Christian Media Studies and Communication of Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg.

WACC General Secretary Dr Karin Achtelstetter, WACC Deputy Director of Programmes Dr Philip Lee, and WACC staff member Dr Sarah Macharia also gave presentations at the symposium.

More information about the UNESCO WSIS+10 event:

It is possible to take part remotely in all 72 sessions of the UNESCO WSIS +10 event. More details here:

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