Tshwane Declaration on
Information Ethics in Africa
The Tshwane Declaration was adopted by the participants of the African Information Ethics Conference: Ethical Challenges in the Information Age on 7 February 2007.
We, African academics in Africa and the diaspora, together with academics from the international community, as experts in the field of Information Ethics, together with government representatives, participating in the African Conference on Information Ethics held in Pretoria 5-7 February 2007 hosted by the South African Government with the official patronage of UNESCO and the NEPAD e-Africa Commission, in close collaboration with the International Center for Information Ethics, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and the University of Pretoria;
Understanding Information Ethics to be the field of critical reflection on moral values and practices with regard to the production, storage, distribution and access to knowledge as well as to all kinds of processes, systems and media of information and communication;
Noting the urgent necessity of ethical reflection on norms and values for the emerging Information Society in Africa;
Inspired by the vision of the World Summit on the Information Society of a people-centred, inclusive, development-oriented Information Society;
United in our belief that the mobilization of academic research on Information Ethics in Africa is crucial for sustainable social, economic, technical, cultural and political development; Acknowledging the need to improve and foster greater participation of African scholars in the field of information ethics within the international scholarly community recognizing the distinctive contribution to be made by African thinkers and intellectual traditions to the global information ethics community;
Recognising that in the present global information society the necessity of international and inter-cultural dialogue on information ethics issues is crucial for creating conditions for mutual respect and understanding;
Accepting that the renaissance of the African continent has highlighted ethical challenges and opportunities in relation to the increasing utilization of Information and Communication technologies; Believing that Information Ethics should play a crucial role in African education and policy in order to foster social, cultural and economic development by promoting the worth and dignity of human individual and social life; Recalling the International Information Ethics Conference that took place in October 2004, in Karlsruhe, Germany, which identified the need for the greater participation of Africans in the global inter-cultural dialogue on Information Ethics; Determined to establish dialogue opportunities, networks, and African Research agendas in information ethics; Re-affirm our commitment, focus and motivation towards enhancing African dialogue on developing norms and values for the African Information Society;
Adopt this declaration as a foundation to enhance the field of Information Ethics in Africa, and resolve to uphold the following principles:
All people have equal rights as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. To exercise their human rights people need and should have access to information as well as the ability to benefit from it.
Information should be recognized as a tool for promoting the goals of freedom, democracy, understanding, global security, peace and development and should be used as such.
Information should be made available, accessible and affordable across all linguistic groups, gender, differently abled, elderly and all cultural and income groups.
World-wide, the centrality of information is manifested as nations move towards Information and Knowledge Societies. To make the global Millennium development goals a reality, Africa should be a key player in this movement.
Policies and practices regarding the generation, dissemination and utilisation of information in and about Africa should be grounded in an Ethics based on universal human values, human rights and social justice.
Indigenous knowledge and cultural diversity is a valuable contribution Africa can make to the global Information Society. It should be preserved, fostered and enabled to enrich the world body of knowledge.