Tuesday, November 8, 2005 1:27 PM

The text of the current version of the People's Communication Charter

 Amsterdam, January 2005

We, the Signatories of this Charter, recognize that:

Communication is basic to the life of all individuals and their communities. All people are entitled to participate in communication, and in making decisions about communication within and between societies. The majority of the world's peoples lack minimal technological resources for survival and communication. Over half of them have not yet made a single telephone call. Commercialization of media and concentration of media ownership erode the public sphere and fail to provide for cultural and information needs, including the plurality of opinions and the diversity of cultural expressions and languages necessary for democracy. Massive and pervasive media violence polarizes societies, exacerbates conflict, and cultivates fear and mistrust, making people vulnerable and dependent. Stereotypical portrayals misrepresent all of us and stigmatize those who are the most vulnerable. Therefore, we ratify this Charter defining communication rights and responsibilities to be observed in democratic countries and in international law.

Article 1. Respect

In private and public communication all people are entitled to be treated with respect, according to the basic human rights standards of dignity, integrity, identity, and non- discrimination.

Article 2. Freedom

All people have the right of freedom of expression without interference. This right can only be restricted when limitations are absolutely necessary to protect democracy. Such limitations should always be democratically decided, proportional, effective and of a temporary nature.

Article 3. Access

In order to exercise their rights, people should have fair and equitable access to local and global resources and facilities for conventional and advanced channels of communication; people should also be able to receive opinions, information and ideas in a language they normally use and understand; they should receive a range of cultural products designed for a wide variety of tastes and interests; and they should have easy access to facts about ownership of media and sources of information. Restrictions on access to information should be permissible only for good and compelling reason, as when prescribed by international human rights standards or necessary for the protection of a democratic society or the basic rights of others.

Article 4. Independence

The realization of people's right to participate in, contribute to and benefit from the development of self-reliant communication structures requires international assistance to the development of independent media; training programs for professional media workers; the establishment of independent, representative associations, syndicates or trade unions of journalists and associations of editors and publishers; and the adoption of international standards.

Article 5. Literacy

All people have the right to acquire information and skills necessary to participate fully in public deliberation and communication. This requires facility in reading, writing, and storytelling; critical media awareness; computer literacy; and education about the role of communication in society.

Article 6. Protection of journalists

Journalists must be accorded full protection of the law, including international humanitarian law, especially in areas of armed conflict. They must have safe, unrestricted access to sources of information, and must be able to seek remedy, when required, through an international body.

Article 7. Right of redress

All people have the right to be protected against forms of public information that are inaccurate, misleading, discriminatory or damaging. In such cases they should have easy access to such institutions as Ombudsmen, Press Councils and Courts of Law.

Article 8. Cultural identity

All people have the right to protect their cultural identity. This includes the respect for people's pursuit of their own cultural development and the right to free expression in languages they understand. People' s right to the protection of their cultural space and heritage should not violate other human rights or provisions of this Charter.

Article 9. Diversity of Languages

All people have the right to a diversity of languages. This includes the right to express themselves and have access to information in their own language, the right to use their own languages in educational institutions funded by the state, and the right to have adequate provisions created for the use of minority languages where needed.

Article 10. Participation in policy making

All people have the right to participate ödirectly or through elected representatives- in public decision-making about the provision of information; the development and utilization of knowledge; the preservation, protection and development of culture; and the choice and application of communication technologies. Private media industries should be transparent in their ownership structures and operational policies in order to be held accountable by the relevant stakeholders.

Article 11. Children's Rights

Children have the right to mass media products that are designed to meet their needs and interests and foster their healthy physical, mental and emotional development. They should be protected from harmful media products and from commercial and other exploitation at home, in school and at places of play, work, or business. Nations should take steps to produce and distribute widely high quality cultural and entertainment materials created for children in their own languages.

Article 12. Cyberspace

All people have a right to universal access to and equitable use of cyberspace. Their rights to free and open communities in cyberspace, their freedom of electronic expression, and their freedom from electronic surveillance and intrusion, should be protected.

Article 13. Privacy

All people have the right to be protected from the publication of allegations irrelevant to the public interest, or of private photographs or other private communication without authorization, or of personal information given or received in confidence. Databases derived from personal or workplace communications or transactions should not be used for unauthorized commercial or general surveillance purposes. However, nations should take care that the protection of privacy does not unduly interfere with the freedom of expression or the administration of justice.

Article 14. Harm

People have the right to demand that media actively counter incitement to hate, prejudice, violence, and war. Violence should not be presented as normal, "manly", or entertaining, and true consequences of and alternatives to violence should be shown. While the reality of harmful communication effects should not be ignored, the issue of what constitutes unacceptable harm should be openly discussed in public debates in order to find a balance between the protection against harmful effects and the protection of free speech.

Article 15. Justice

People have the right to demand that media respect standards of due process in the coverage of trials. This implies that the media should not presume guilt before a verdict of guilt, invade the privacy of defendants, and should not televise criminal trials in real time, while the trial is in progress.

Article 16. Consumption

People have the right to useful and factual consumer information and to be protected against misleading and distorted information. Media should avoid and, if necessary, expose promotion disguised as news and entertainment (infomercials, product placement, children's programs that use franchised characters and toys, etc), and the creation of wasteful, unnecessary, harmful or ecologically damaging needs, wants, products and activities. Advertising directed at children should receive special scrutiny.

Article 17. Intellectual Property Rights

People have the right to affordable access to information about matters of public interest, to scientific and technical knowledge, and to cultural products. The protection of intellectual property should not hamper this. Therefore, a balance has to be found between the proprietary interests of those who produce information, knowledge and culture and the users and consumers. As a minimum, the duration of protection should not be extended beyond presently prevailing limits and the principle of ‘fair use’ of copyrighted materials for non-commercial use should be maintained.

Article 18. Implementation

In consultation with the Signatories, national and international mechanisms will be organized to publicize this Charter; to implement it in as many countries as possible and in international law; monitor and assess the performance of countries and media in light of these Standards; receive complaints about violations; advise on adequate remedial measures; and to establish procedures for periodic review, development and modification of this Charter.

Back to Main Index | Media Index