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Joint Statement on Internet Shutdowns
July 3, 2023

The United States Joined the Following Joint Statement at the 53rd Session of the Human Rights Council

Joint Statement on Internet Shutdowns on behalf of 54 countries

As Delivered by the European Union

Mr. President,

The European Union has the honour to deliver this Statement on behalf of 54 countries.

Access to the Internet is an indispensable enabler of a broad range of human rights. An open, free, global, interoperable, reliable and secure Internet for all facilitates individuals’ enjoyment of their rights, including freedoms of expression, opinion, and peaceful assembly, the rights to education and to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health. It allows access to objective information and public services.

Internet shutdowns are a growing concern worldwide, as some governments take measures to disrupt access to Internet and telecommunications, often in the context of political protests, electoral processes, crises, or armed conflicts.

Shutdowns and network disruptions negatively affect the ability of journalists, media workers, and civil society, including human rights defenders, to operate. Internet shutdowns also undermine access to critical support and protection, including for women and girls, and hamper humanitarian assistance.

Furthermore, Internet shutdowns severely hinder the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights, and the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals, while deepening digital divides. Internet shutdowns hamper businesses and customers, disrupt trade, investment, financial transactions, and the delivery of services and remittances.

The signatories of this Joint Statement call on States to foster an open Internet and not to impose shutdowns, restricting civic space online.

We emphasise that the private sector, in particular telecommunication companies and social media platforms, also plays an important role in sharing information on shutdowns and taking measures to prevent those that they have been requested or forced to implement.

We will continue to promote meaningful connectivity for all, including those in marginalised and vulnerable situations.

Thank you.