UN Human Rights Council condemns internet restrictions

China and Russia opposed new resolution

UN Human Rights Council condemns internet restrictions

Photo: PA Images

The United Nations Human Rights Council has condemned countries that restrict their citizen's internet access.

The council passed a non-binding resolution that attacked "measures to intentionally prevent or disrupt access to our dissemination of information online." Resolutions like this are not legally enforceable but do demonstrate the UN's collective view on the issue and are seen as a way to pressure countries to agree.

While the resolution passed comfortably, it did face opposition from some countries that have restricted internet use before, including China, Russia and India.

Hate speech is also targeted by the UN, who stressed the importance of "combating advocacy of hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination or violence on the Internet, including by promoting tolerance and dialogue".

Gender divide

The resolution also included a stance on women's use of the internet, saying "forms of digital divides remain between and within countries and between men and women, boys and girls, and recognising the need to close them". The UN believes that offering women and girls full, unrestricted internet access will empower them and promote the education and participation of women in communications and information technology.

There have been over 20 cases of internet shutdowns by state bodies globally in the first half of this year, up from 15 in all of 2015.

The full resolution can be read here.