Southeast Asia Civil Society Statement on Internet Governance
Firstly, we applaud and welcome the report by UN special rapporteur on freedom of expression, Mr Frank La Rue, at the 17th session of the UN Human Rights Council, which affirmed human right in the internet. Nothing the important role that the internet played during times of political unrest, the report affirmed it as “an indispensable tool for realising a range of human rights, combating inequality, and accelerating development and human progress”. We, too, agree that there is enormous potential in the internet in all aspects of human development – from economic and social, to commerce, finance, business, innovation, mobilisation and the attainment and exercise of freedoms. And since the Internet as a source of information is especially crucial in the context of the repressive situation many Southeast Asian countries still find themselves in, we are heartened by Mr Frank La Rue’s call that “ensuring universal access … should be a priority for all states.”
In keeping with the agenda of the 2011 Asia-Pacific Regional Internet Governance (APrIGF) Roundtable in Singapore for an inclusive multi-stakeholder dialogue on the internet, we civil society representatives from the Southeast Asia region, wish to offer our perspectives on a few developments as well as concerns.
There remains much to be done about the digital divide. The fact that the ArIGF is being held in Singapore after Hong Kong in the previous year – with both states on the extreme positive end of the spectrum – gives an indication of the gap and we look forward to the day when this meeting can be held in a country at the other end of the spectrum, such as Cambodia, Myanmar & Timor Leste.