Let’s promote the European vision for digital governance and cooperation in the UN! – Pre 05 2023
The workshop will review the current major ongoing UN initiatives relating to Internet governance and digital cooperation and evaluate how the European stakeholder community can actively engage and influence their outcomes so that they fully reflect European values in support of a single, open, secure, trusted and interoperable Internet supported by multistakeholder governance which serves to advance freedom of expression and human rights online generally. The workshop will focus primarily on i) the UN Secretary-General's proposal for a Global Digital Compact (GDC) to be agreed and launched at the UN Summit of the Future in September 2024, and ii) the 20 year review of the outcomes of the UN World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS+20) which includes the current mandate of the global Internet Governance Forum (IGF) which ends in 2025.
The workshop in Tampere in June provides an important opportunity for the EuroDIG stakeholder community to review the impact of its involvement in two key UN processes which will determine the course of global cooperation in realising the social and economic opportunities for digital transformation and addressing the challenges, threats and risks associated with the rapid pace of technology evolution.
Firstly, the UN Secretary-General's proposal for a Global Digital Compact (GDC) will be agreed and launched at the UN Summit of the Future in September 2024. The Secretary General’s report “Our Common Agenda” proposed that the GDC should declare shared principles for “an open, free and secure digital future for all” and its scope should include a range of thematic areas and specific issues including digital connectivity, avoiding Internet fragmentation, providing people with options as to how their data is used, applying human rights online, and promoting a trustworthy Internet by introducing accountability criteria for discrimination and misleading content. These issues have been addressed in various sessions during annual EuroDIG meetings in the last three years and their conclusions were published for the benefit of the global community as “EuroDIG Messages”.
Following its online consultation, EuroDIG has proposed an additional thematic area for the GDC: Green Digital Transformation. The need to transition to a green digital economy by the 2030s has been discussed at several recent EuroDIG meetings. It was the subject of an intersessional project in 2020-21 on information and communications technology (ICT) sustainability and the crucial role of the Internet governance community in ensuring that environmental sustainability is at the heart of ICTs throughout their lifecycle.
There have been two main processes of stakeholder consultations on the GDC: the Tech Envoy's survey questionnaire on which EuroDIG conducted its own consultation in preparation for submitting its response based on a thematic collation of recent relevant EuroDIG messages; and a series of "deep dive" thematic consultations by the Member state co-facilitators Rwanda and Sweden. Both of these consultations will have concluded by the time of the EuroDIG meeting in Tampere.
The Secretary-General’s Policy Brief No.5 on the GDC was published on 24 May 2023. This includes a proposal to establish an annual forum called the Digital Cooperation Forum with related ongoing process, to support multistakeholder engagement and the implementation of the GDC. Internet governance objectives and actions would continue to be supported by the IGF.
The EuroDIG workshop will reflect on the progress of the GDC consultations to date in anticipation of further opportunities to engage in the preparatory process for the Summit and the subsequent implementation of the GDC's principles-based commitments for stakeholders. The workshop is also an opportunity to share initial reactions and views on the implications for the IGF and NRIs such as EuroDIG, of the proposal to establish a Digital Cooperation Forum.
The second major UN process for active consideration and engagement by EuroDIG stakeholders is the 20 year review of the outcomes of the UN World Summit on the Information Society: the WSIS+20 Review. The UN General Assembly Resolution UNGA Resolution A/RES/70/125 requested the General Assembly to hold a high-level meeting (HLM) on the overall review in 2025 of the implementation of the outcomes of the WSIS, involving the input and participation of all stakeholders, including in the preparatory process, to take stock of progress on the outcomes and to identify both areas of continued focus and challenges. A key outcome of the WSIS was the ground-breaking creation of the global Internet Governance Forum as a multistakeholder, non-decisional meeting place for stakeholders that serves to help shape decisions taken by industry, governments, intergovernmental organisations and regulators. The review will include therefore the question of whether to renew the mandate of the IGF for a fourth term. The WSIS+20 review is also expected to link in many areas to the review process for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as is also the GDC for example on commitments to increase connectivity and address digital divides.
The WSIS+20 Review will therefore be a critical turning point when the technical community, civil society, governments, regulators and intergovernmental organisations, and private sector-led entities such as ICANN, come together to shape an updated agenda for digital governance and cooperation which takes full account of the impacts of technology evolution in creating new opportunities as well as policy challenges, threats and risks to social well-being. Various initiatives are already gearing up for the WSIS+20 Review in 2025. As the lead on WSIS in the UN system, the Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) is developing a roadmap for WSIS+20 that will engage all the UN agencies with a direct interest in digital transformation including UNESCO and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) which convenes an annual WSIS Forum and is already set to be a major player in the Review preparations. The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) will include discussions about the Review at the next annual meeting in Kyoto in October and the IGF's Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG) is developing a WSIS+20 action plan. It will be vitally important therefore for EuroDIG's community of stakeholders to contribute in ensuring that the UN's multilateral process of review and renewal builds on the success of the multi-stakeholder model of governance. This workshop in Tampere is intended to be the first step on the road to 2025.
The programme of the workshop will be in three parts:
Part 1 (40 minutes)
A review of current European stakeholder engagement in: (i) the development phase of the Global Digital Compact (including online consultations by the co-facilitators and the Tech Envoy);
and (ii) the preparation for the WSIS+20 Review (including the IGF WSIS+20 Action Plan and the roadmap of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development [CSTD]).
This part of the workshop will be moderated by Ana Neves, Chair of the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD), with a panel of three experts from civil society, government and the technical community:
- Wolfgang Kleinwächter, Professor Emeritus for Internet Policy and Regulation at the University of Aarhus
- Nigel Hickson, Head of Internet Governance, United Kingdom Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT)
- Chris Buckridge, IGF Multistakeholder Advisory Group member
Each panel member will be invited to make opening remarks of maximum 3 minutes. This will be followed by open interaction with participants in the room and online. The following questions provide guidance for the focus of discussion involving participants in the workshop in the room and online:
- How successful are we in promoting the European vision of multistakeholder Internet governance and digital cooperation?
- What specific successes should Europe champion in the WSIS+20 preparatory consultations?
- How can EuroDIG cooperate with other national and regional IGFs in ensuring recognition of their contributions to the GDC development process and to the WSIS+20 Review?
Part 2 (40 minutes)
A look ahead to the next decade of European stakeholder involvement in: (i) the implementation phase of the Global Digital Compact's commitments to action in 2024-25;
and (ii) the evolution of the IGF eco-system following the WSIS+20 Review in 2025, including the reformed "IGF Plus" and its network of national and regional IGFs.'
This part of the workshop will be moderated by Mark Carvell, an independent Internet governance policy adviser and member of EuroDIG's Support Association, with the following panel:
- Nele Leosk, Estonia's Ambassador at Large for Digital Affairs (online)
- Claudia Leopardi, Representative of YouthDIG
- Sebastien Bachollet, Chair of EURALO - ICANN's at-large community of individual Internet users in the European region
- David Pasarelli, UN University Centre for Policy Research (online)
- Esteve Sanz, Head of Sector, Internet Governance and Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue at European Commission (online)
Each panel member will be invited to make opening remarks of maximum 3 minutes and the following questions provide guidance for the focus of the interactive discussion involving participants in the workshop in the room and online:
- What priorities should Europe seek for the GDC's implementation plan and the proposed Digital Cooperation Forum that will oversee it?
- What do we expect the global IGF eco-system to look like following the WSIS+20 Review?
- What active role should EuroDIG seek in the implementation of the outcomes of the WSIS+20 Review?
Part 3 (10 minutes)
i. The UN Secretary-General's Envoy on Technology, Amandeep Singh Gill (online), will provide his perspectives on key points raised in the workshop discussions.
ii. Closing remarks by the two panel moderators, Ana Neves and Mark Carvell.
The key messages from the EuroDIG workshop will be published on the EuroDIG website and communicated to the Envoy of Technology and to the GDC Co-facilitators in the UN, the Permanent Representatives to the UN of Rwanda and Sweden.
Global Digital Compact
- The report Our Common Agenda: https://www.un.org/en/content/common-agenda-report/ - The proposed Global Digital Compact is described in para 93.
- The Office of the Envoy on Technology launched a consultation on the proposed thematic areas for the GDC which concluded on 30 April. The details of the consultation process are accessible at https://www.un.org/techenvoy/global-digital-compact .
- EuroDIG's response to the Tech Envoy's consultation is accessible at: www.un.org.techenvoy/files/GDC-submission_EuroDIG.pdf
- UN Secretary-General’s Policy Brief 5: A Global Digital Compact https://www.un.org/sites/un2.un.org/files/our-common-agenda-policy-brief-gobal-digi-compact-en.pdf
- UN's High Level Board on Effective Multilateralism (HLAB) report with recommendations on digital and data governance (pp 39-45) including a proposal to establish a "Global Commission on Just and Sustainable Digitalisation", a multistakeholder coordinating body for addressing in particular online rights, data security and digital inclusion. The full report is accessible at: https://highleveladvisoryboard.org/breakthrough/
- The Declaration for the Future of the Internet signed by over 70 states and international partners including all EU Member States, Iceland, Norway, Serbia and the UK; sets out the vision and principles of a trusted Internet. https://digital-strategy.ec.europa.eu/en/library/declaration-future-internet
- IGF information on WSIS+20 and IGF+20 Review by the UN General Assembly: https://www.intgovforum.org/en/content/wsis20-and-igf20-review-by-the-un-general-assembly-2025
- Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD): https://unctad.org/topic/commission-on-science-and-technology-for-development
- CSTD roadmap for WSIS+20 Review https://unctad.org/system/files/non-official-document/ecn162023_roadmap_p05_CSTDChair_en.pdf
- UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Resolution 2022/15 - Assessment of the progress made in the implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society: https://unctad.org/system/files/official-document/ecosoc_res_2022d15_en.pdf
- ITU WSIS Forum 2023: https://www.itu.int/net4/wsis/forum/2023/en
- Ana Neves
- Mark Carvell
The proposed GDC will establish shared principles for “an open, free and secure digital future for all” and commitments on a range of themes including digital connectivity, avoiding Internet fragmentation, options as to how personal data is used, applying human rights online, promoting a trustworthy Internet by introducing accountability criteria for discrimination and misleading content, regulation of AI, and digital commons as a global public good.
There have been two rounds of stakeholder consultations. The UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Technology issued a survey questionnaire. EuroDIG responded with a summary of recent EuroDIG messages relating to the proposed GDC themes and recommended green digital transformation as an additional theme. There has also been a series of “deep dive” thematic consultations chaired by the UN co-facilitators (the permanent representatives of Rwanda and Sweden).
The workshop followed the publication of two related documents:
- the Secretary-General’s Policy Brief No. 5, which includes a proposal to establish a Digital Cooperation Forum to support implementation of the GDC;
- a report by the Secretary-General’s High-Level Advisory Board on Effective Multilateralism (HLAB) which includes a recommendation to create a Global Commission on Just and Sustainable Digitalization.
The workshop also received an update by the European Commission on the Declaration on the Future of the Internet (DFI), an initiative led by the EU and the US. This set out the principles of a trusted Internet that is open, free, global, interoperable, reliable and secure, with commitments to protect human rights.
Main points raised in the workshop
- The European stakeholder community – including Internet users and young people – should continue to participate in the current global processes which will determine the future of Internet governance. This includes the negotiation phase of the GDC in 2024.
- While acknowledging the GDC should cover addressing risks and online harms, it is also important that it recognise:
- Internet governance has proved to be resilient despite the pressures of the global pandemic and the war in Europe;
- the success of existing multistakeholder bodies such as the IGF and ICANN, in addressing key issues such as access, diversity and multilingualism;
- The GDC should assist the evolution of WSIS with new action lines.
- The creation of new bodies such as the proposed Digital Cooperation Forum and the Global Commission raises concerns about fragmentation of governance and duplication of existing processes, notably the IGF.
- Rather than re-inventing the wheel, the GDC should serve to strengthen the current processes of Internet governance, including the IGF.
- More effective cooperation between the technical and policy governance layers is also important.
- National regulation should be based on dialogue with stakeholders and decision-making needs to be multistakeholder.
The workshop was informed that there will be opportunities for stakeholders to participate in the next steps of the HLAB recommendation for a Global Commission on Just and Sustainable Digitalization, and of the commitments contained in the Declaration on the Future of the Internet.
In his reflections on the discussions in the workshop, the Envoy on Technology Amandeep Gill acknowledged the dynamism of EuroDIG and other regional and national fora in “expanding the footprint of the IGF” and he emphasised the close linkage between the IGF and the GDC process.
He welcomed the Leadership Panel’s appointment as strengthening the IGF. As a contribution to the overall “How can we do better” aim, he described the HLAB’s recommendations for addressing gaps and inefficiencies as options which complement the Policy Brief. Implementation of the GDC needs to be endorsed by all stakeholders and he encouraged communities to continue to provide inputs.