Human Rights

2015 Internet Freedom Fellows Speaking On Thursday, 18 June, About Empowering Women – Watch Live!

For the fifth consecutive year, the U.S. Mission to the UN in Geneva has invited dynamic and creative journalists and human rights activists to Geneva as Internet Freedom Fellows. On June 18, these remarkable bloggers from Zambia, Palestine, Brunei, Kenya and Belarus will share personal stories at the intersection of the Internet and women empowerment issues. The main theme of our discussion will be “Does the Internet empower women, or do women empower the Internet?”. Kathleen Moriarty (IETF Security Area Director) and Dorcas Muthoni (CEO of Open World Ltd Kenya, founder of AfCHIX) will also join us as remote participants.

Please join us for what should be an interesting discussion on Thursday 18 June, 13:30-15:00 UTC, at the following link:

If you use Twitter, you can also follow the hashtag #IFF2015.

Here are the biographies of these remarkable individuals. (Shown in the photo above from left to right.)  For more information about the 29th session of the UN Human Rights Council, which is why these Fellows were invited to Geneva, please see my post from Tuesday.

Teah Abdullah is the curator of the blog Why Brunei Needs Feminism. She is the editor-in-chief of Songket Alliance which encourages writers to document and reflect their life in Brunei. She also co-runs B:Read, a Brunei organization advocating reading as a form of community building and creative empowerment. She is currently doing her MA in Anthropology of Development and Rights at Goldsmiths College funded by the Chevening scholarship.

Meluse Kapatamoyo is a female Journalist and blogger living in Zambia’s capital, Lusaka. She has been a freelance journalist since 2003. She has written for a number of national and international publications and is now a correspondent for the BBC in Zambia. As a blogger, Meluse has been able to make use of free internet to promote women and children’s rights. She has also used her journalistic skills to get Zambians, especially young women to open up about issues that are directly impacting their human rights and their health, tackling sensitive topics that mainstream government-run publications are not likely to publish. Through the internet, she has been able to connect her followers to various health experts that could help with service provision and expert advice. Her blog is .

Saed Karzoun is a young Palestinian entrepreneur founder and CEO of “Taghyeer” Social Media Company, a non-profit organization working on developing Social Media usage in Palestine and making a change in society on issues revolving around women and youth in a society still living under occupation. In 2003 he was a co-founder of Al Kamandjati Music Association dedicated to teach Palestinian children music specifically in refugee camps in Palestine and Lebanon. In 2010-2014 he was appointed the Head of the Board of Directors of Sharek Youth Forum. He has led various media campaigns, social, health, economic and political initiatives, and partnered with local and international institutions. His projects call for positive change, building dialogue between the Middle East and the rest of the World. Saed holds a BA degree in Media and Journalism and resides in Ramallah. His blog is

Irina Alkhovka was born and raised in Belarus, and is a passionate gender and women’s human rights activist and feminist. In 1996 she graduated from Belarusian State University, Department of Sociology, obtaining the first diploma on gender issues in the history of the program. At the age of 23, Ms. Alkhovka she was elected as Board President of the Young Women Christian Association (YWCA) of Belarus. She later went on to work on preventing trafficking in women and in 2007 was awarded the German UNIFEM Award for the “excellent work in the field of anti-trafficking in Belarus” for her leadership of the La Strada Belarus program singled out among 100 other similar projects in Central and Eastern Europe. In 2009 she founded a new NGO in 2010 called “Gender Perspectives” to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment. The organization provides direct services for survivors and those at risk, builds capacities of professional groups for sustainable responses, advises governmental institutions and international community on relevant policies and laws, influences media and Internet to reflect human rights issues.

Jessica Musila is the Executive Director of Mzalendo Trust, the organization behind, Kenya’s premier Parliamentary Monitoring Initiative. Over the last four years, she has spearheaded Mzalendo’s evolution from a blog into a largely self-sustaining site with an organization supporting it. She is passionate about social justice and prior to her involvement with Mzalendo has worked in the governance, development and humanitarian sectors. She has held various roles at mySociety UK, Hivos Foundation – Twaweza project, German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) and the International Committee Red Cross (ICRC). Jessica has a B.A. in Communication and Community Development from Daystar University, Kenya and a Master of Public Policy (MPP) from the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy, Germany.

Human Rights Internet Governance

UNHRC Creates New UN Special Rapporteur on “The Right to Privacy in the Digital Age”

Many of you might be interested to know that the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva has just adopted the establishment of a new UN Special Rapporteur on “The Right to Privacy in the Digital Age”. A Resolution to this effect was in consideration at the 28th Session of the Human Rights Council for the past 4 weeks, and the Internet Society was following these developments closely and engaging with stakeholders during the informal discussions.

Noteworthy, the mandate of the Special Rapporteur will include special consideration of issues related to the digital age and new technologies, including surveillance. This focus led to some arguments in the drafting sessions, but eventually the Resolution was adopted today without a vote.

This development is a direct follow-up to the UN General Assembly Resolution 69/166 from December 2014, led by Germany and Brazil, that asked the Council to consider the creation of such a mandate.

If the work of the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression is any indication, we can expect this new independent expert to bring some useful human rights insights into some of the key privacy issues that affect people today, whether online or offline.

The text of the resolution establishing the mandate is currently available on the extranet of the HRC (Request the password from UNHRC).

We welcome the creation of this Special Rapporteur and look forward to working with the UNHRC, our community and others around the world to address these important issues around privacy.

Are you excited by this development?

Photo: IMG_1954″  © 2012 Tom Page CC BY-SA 2.0 CC BY-SA 2.0