UN Internet Governance Forum 2021

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The IGF is a global multistakeholder platform that facilitates the discussion of public policy issues pertaining to the Internet

Like every year, the IGF will bring people together from various stakeholder groups as equals to discuss public policy issues about the Internet from 6-10th December, aiming to facilitate a common understanding of how to maximize the promise of the Internet and address risks and challenges that arise from it.

Follow these instructions to register for IGF 2020 and get unique Zoom links to individual sessions.

IT for Change will be co-organizing two online sessions and participating in six others at UN IGF 2021.

1. Digital Policy Making from Below: Ask the Impacted Sectors First (session #64)

Pre-event organized by the Just Net Coalition

Monday, Dec 6 |  9:30 AM - 12:00 PM UTC

This pre-event is aimed at outlining a new approach to digital policy development that the Just Net Coalition, its members, and its partners, are pioneering. Here, we propose shifting the loci of policy development shifts from rarefied and somewhat technicalized horizontal spaces to sectors/ areas that are directly impacted by digitalization including – health, media, education, commerce, agriculture, gender, and more. It is through creative interactions between horizontal specialized digital policy-making spaces and institutions, and digital thinking emerging from the impacted sectors that we believe appropriate policies and governance for the digital can emerge.

Add the session to your IGF calendar and read more about it here.


2. Digital Cooperation- Quo Vadis?

Main Session on Inclusive Internet Governance Ecosystems and Digital Cooperation

Read the statement presented at the session here.

Read the report of the session here.

Wednesday, Dec 8 | 10:15 AM - 11:45 AM UTC

This session is set for assessing Internet governance approaches and mechanisms and fostering democratic equity and inclusiveness. The panel will discuss the main strengths and weaknesses of existing Internet governance approaches and mechanisms and if the UN Secretary-General's Roadmap for digital cooperation succeeding in fostering and consolidating cooperation and promoting a less fragmented more holistic approach. It will also discuss what can we expect from the "Global Digital Compact", proposed in the Secretary-General’s Common Agenda.

Other policy questions that will be discussed- advancing global digital cooperation: New models on future digital cooperation: what is new and different to what we already have on orientation/roadmap? Which changes do we need in order to advance digital cooperation? What is needed in order to make a new model a success? What is the role of the UN system in any digital cooperation architecture? What are the directions we have from the WSIS in this regard?

Add the session to your IGF calendar and read more about it here.

3. Power and Authority in Internet Governance: Return of the State? (Event #19)

Book launch and award event organized by Brock University

Wednesday, Dec 8 | 12:45 PM  - 1:45 PM UTC

This new book, Power and Authority in Internet Governance: Return of the State?, investigates the hotly contested role of the state in today's digital society. Picking up on debates over ‘digital sovereignty’, so prominent in recent IGFs, the book asks: Is the state "back" in internet regulation? If so, what forms are state involvement taking, and with what consequences for the future? The volume brings together stakeholders from different regions and sectors to consider these questions. In particular, the book includes case studies from both democratic (Latin America, the EU, and Brazil) and authoritarian (Russia, China) countries. As this IGF event will show, we need to push the debate over state involvement in internet governance beyond a simplistic dichotomy between liberalism and authoritarianism. Panelists bring perspectives from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America, as well as from academia, civil society and government.

Add the session to your IGF calendar and read the event report here.


4. Data justice: What is to be done?

Workshop organized by Research ICT Africa/University of Cape Town

Wednesday, Dec 8 | 12:50 PM - 1:50 PM UTC

Acknowledging the socio-economic and political disparities between global communities and avoiding the deterministic expectations towards data; this session will augment ongoing discussions on how data governance that reduces it to narrow considerations of individualized privacy and security can be extended to governance and regulatory interventions that will redress exclusion, discrimination and under-representation to produce more inclusive, equitable and just outcomes.

Add the session to your IGF calendar and read more about it here.


5. Women's Right to Online Participation: Promise or Pipedream?

Open forum organized by the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, IT for Change and InternetLab

Wednesday, Dec 8 | 3:15 PM - 4:15 PM UTC

The starting point of this Open Forum is that women’s full right to public participation cannot be guaranteed without international frameworks that support global and national level action by governments, platform companies, and civil society to build a digital public sphere free from sexism, misogyny and gender-based cyberviolence. Through break-out group discussions, the Open Forum will address the following questions:

1. How are content governance standards to be set by platform companies so that they adhere to a universal baseline of women's human rights while being sensitive to contextual gender cultural norms?

2. How can states design intermediary liability frameworks to achieve the fine balance between platform responsibility for providing prompt redress against sexist hate online and preventing unaccountable private censorship of online speech?

3. What do we need to do to promote synergies between national policies governing platform obligations, platform self-governance and community standards and new regulatory approaches to preserve freedoms and address harms? What is the role of the multilateral system in working towards this synergy?

Add the session to your IGF calendar and read more about it here.


6. Syncing AI, Human Rights, & the SDGs: The Impossible Dream? (WS #184 )

Workshop by Internet Rights and Principles Coalition/Goldsmiths University of London

Wednesday, Dec 8 | 3:50 PM - 5:20 PM UTC

This session touches on more than two of the policy questions listed above in light of the rise of AI as a increasingly popular means by which the sustainable development goals can be achieved on time, and in measurable ways. The two key selected areas that this session will touch on in particular (PQ 2, PQ 5) consider how AI - broadly defined - could actually cause more harm than good when considered from the perspective of the future survival of both humankind and the natural environment. As a means to operationalize the SDGs (a selected number of which will guide the speakers in their preparation for the debate) investments in AI R&D have been prominent in the private sector and for governments. The issue of harm from a human rights framing of these two other key issue areas (AI and sustainable development) has not been unpacked sufficiently to date.

Read updates of the session here.


7. Digital Health Blueprints for a Post-Pandemic World (WS #163)

Workshop organized by People's Health Movement, Medicus Mundi International - Network Health for All & IT for Change

Thursday, Dec 9 |  12:50 PM - 01:50 PM  UTC

Through an in-depth panel discussion between members of a global civil society organisation working on people’s right to health, a digital rights organisation, a representative from the international public health agency PAHO, and a private sector representative from the global South, this session aims at identifying the building blocks of a digital health policy blueprint that can protect and promote a 'health for all' agenda. In specific, the session will address the following questions: - How can digital health promote effective reach of quality health services for all? - How should emerging policies for smart systems and AI in health services be designed for accountability? - How can rules and protocols for public health data systems deepen local R and D and increase resilience of local health systems? The main proposer of the session, People’s Health Movement, will take the insights from the session into their ongoing project of evolving digital justice principles for the health sector domain.

Add the session to your IGF calendar and read more about it here.


Fintech: A Sustainable Development Economy of Inclusivity?

Workshop on Economic and Social Inclusion and Human Rights

Thursday, Dec 9 | 08:30 AM - 10:00 AM UTC

The workshop aims to discuss the growing concerns and issues surrounding digital financial inclusion from the viewpoint of fintech in Internet Governance. Relevant stakeholders from different fields are brought together to educate, discuss, and suggest potential solutions and frameworks for fintech and digital financial inclusion, thereby leading towards a sustainable economy.

Add the session to your IGF calendar and read more about it here.