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The State of the Right to Communicate


In this article we first present the historical development of the right to communicate as first internationally expressed in a call for a New World Information and Communication Order. Subsequently, we focus on its revival during the United Nations World Summit on the Information Society, which we argue to have missed the historical chance to give new momentum to the debate, while global developments have all but intensified the need for communication processes to be recognized as a human need and to be firmly protected. We conclude with the key controversial questions surrounding the concept of a “right to communicate” in order to point to some of the most problematic issues which have yet to be resolved and identify the position of such a right within the logic of the contemporary human rights edifice. Finally, we propose a new approach to the debate, which could contribute to fine-tuning its further development and avoiding some of the historical deadlocks, which have resulted from an overly politicized discussion during the early years.

Cees J. Hamelink, Julia Hoffmann

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