How to enhance participation and cooperation of CSOs in/with multistakeholder IG forums | IGF 2023 Open Forum #96
10 Oct 2023 05:45h – 07:15h UTC
- Marlena Wisniak, Senior Advisor, Digital Rights, European Center for Not-for-Profit Law Stichting
- Peter Marien, Teamleader Digital Governance, European Commission
- Tereza Horejsova, Outreach Manager, Global Forum on Cyber Expertise, IGF MAG Member
- Viktor Kapiyo, Member of the Board of Trustees, Kenya ICT Action Network
- Pavlina Ittelson, Executive Director, Diplo US
- Shita Laksmi, DiploFoundation
Knowledge Graph of Debate
Pavlina Ittelson, Director of Diplo USA
The complexity and overwhelming nature of technical standards bodies makes it difficult for new participants to navigate and contribute
- Numerous working and study groups within each organization
- Difficult to determine which meetings to attend
- The landscape is US and Europe dominant
Topics: Technical standards setting bodies, Civil society participation, Global South, Fragmented landscape
Cooperation and collaboration between Global North and Global South should not take a white-saviorist approach
- There’s a lot to learn from Global South
- Creative advocacy strategies can thrive in places outside the U.S. and Europe
Topics: Global North and South, Cooperation, Collaboration
International governance mechanisms impact national regulation
- The influence of UNESCO recommendations and other such entities can have a disproportionate impact on national regulation in the global majority
Topics: International Governance, National Regulation
Capacity building cannot be achieved in a day
- The speaker is identifying the slow process of forming capacity, citing her own experience in a company providing OSINT-related service
- Reference to the long-term process of the Paris Agreement
The role of citizen participation at the local level in solving global issues
- Reference to the citizen assemblies held during the Paris Agreement process
- The speaker expresses a personal hope to see such assemblies in different parts of the world
Topics: Citizen Participation, Climate Change, Paris Agreement, Global Issues
The importance of institutional capacity building in civil societies’
- Example of a blind person unable to complete a task due to overlook in website’s design.
Topics: Internet Governance, User Engagement, Policy Making
Alternatives to engage with parliamentarians and government is needed
- Consultation process prior to the introduction of a bill in India is more fruitful.
Topics: Government Engagement, Policy Making
Common input by CSOs might overlook a variety of opinions and perspectives.
- There needs to be a balance between one input by several organizations and basically leaving the variety of opinions and perspectives behind.
Topics: Common Inputs, CSOs, Variety of Opinions
Need for donors to collaborate.
- Donors like EU, State Department are working on very similar projects but seem not to be collaborating.
Topics: Donors, Collaboration
Pavlina Ittelson concludes her proposal of creating a wider network of CSOs to share and build upon their work, and invites more discussion after the session.
Topics: CSOs collaboration, Network creation
Lack of Formal rules for interaction in vast spaces
- Difficulty in interaction due to lack of definitive rulebook
- Different spaces have different interaction styles
- Workshops for briefing on space participation proposed
Topics: Participation, Space interaction rules
Technical standards bodies can be complex and overwhelming, making it challenging for new participants to navigate and contribute effectively. These bodies consist of numerous working and study groups within each organization, leading to a fragmented landscape. It can be difficult for newcomers to determine which meetings to attend and how to make meaningful contributions.
The dominance of the United States and Europe in these bodies further complicates the situation, potentially marginalising participants from other regions around the world. However, there are strategies and structures that can support and facilitate smoother participation. One such approach is the provision of engagement strategies and support, such as financial assistance and assistance with visa processes.
For instance, Article 19’s Global Digital Program offers support structures that take care of finances and visa processes for participants. They also provide one-on-one mentorship to help participants understand complex concepts and bounce ideas off after meetings. This support helps participants overcome logistical barriers and align the priorities of civil society organisations with the needs and objectives of technical standards bodies.
Cooperation and collaboration between the Global North and Global South in technical standards bodies should embrace an inclusive approach and avoid a white-saviorist mentality. There is much to learn from the Global South, and creative advocacy strategies can flourish outside of the US and Europe.
By embracing a collaborative approach that respects the knowledge and expertise of all regions, technical standards bodies can become more equitable and representative. International governance mechanisms have a significant impact on national regulation, particularly in the global majority. Entities like UNESCO recommendations can disproportionately influence national regulatory frameworks, potentially shaping policies that may not be in the best interests of countries in the global majority.
Therefore, it is important for these governance mechanisms to involve a diverse range of voices and perspectives to ensure fair and inclusive decision-making processes. It is crucial to acknowledge that civil society and the global majority are not monoliths. There is significant diversity within regions, and even within a single country like India, there are multiple languages and perspectives.
Recognising this diversity strengthens the ability to address inequalities and promote inclusivity within technical standards bodies. Capacity building is a process that takes time and cannot be achieved in a day. This is particularly evident in areas like climate change, where developing the necessary expertise and infrastructure to meet the goals outlined in global agreements like the Paris Agreement is a long-term endeavour.
Recognising the gradual nature of capacity building is crucial to avoid unrealistic expectations and foster sustainable progress. Citizen participation at the local level plays a crucial role in addressing global issues. As demonstrated during the Paris Agreement process, citizen assemblies can provide valuable input and insights.
Encouraging citizen participation in different parts of the world can foster capacity building and contribute to global efforts to address pressing challenges. Institutional capacity building is vital for civil societies. By strengthening their institutional structures, civil society organisations can better engage with governments and stakeholders to influence policy making.
For example, the pending implementation of India’s Personal Data Protection Act and Digital India Act highlights the need for a strong front when dealing with governments. These regulations will impact the digital activities of 1.4 billion people, emphasising the importance of civil society organisations advocating for their interests.
When engaging with governments and policymakers, alternative methods of engagement beyond traditional consultation processes should be explored. Consultation processes prior to the introduction of a bill in India, for example, have proven to be more fruitful in generating meaningful engagement.
Finding ways to engage directly with parliamentarians and government officials can lead to more effective and impactful involvement. While common input by civil society organisations can be valuable, it is important to strike a balance between shared perspectives and maintaining a variety of opinions and perspectives.
Overlooking the diversity of opinions within civil society organisations can limit the range of perspectives presented and potentially hinder inclusive decision-making processes. Collaboration between donors is crucial for promoting synergies and avoiding duplication of efforts. Donors such as the European Union and the State Department are often working on similar projects but may not be collaborating effectively.
Encouraging collaboration among donors can lead to more efficient and coordinated support for initiatives and maximise impact. Creating a wider network of civil society organisations can foster sharing and collaboration. This approach allows organisations to build upon each other’s work, share resources, and learn from one another’s experiences.
By creating a supportive network, civil society organisations can collectively address challenges and contribute to social progress. Rules for interaction in vast spaces, such as international forums and technical standards bodies, need to be shared and clarified to facilitate effective engagement.
Currently, the lack of definitive rules and different interaction styles across spaces can hinder meaningful communication and collaboration. Workshops to brief participants on interaction techniques and establish common ground for engagement are proposed as a possible solution. In conclusion, navigating and contributing to technical standards bodies can be challenging due to their complex nature.
However, supporting engagement strategies, fostering collaboration, and promoting inclusivity are essential for facilitating participation and ensuring the effective functioning of these bodies. Empowering civil society organisations, embracing diverse perspectives, and building strong institutional capacity are key components of this process.
By working together, stakeholders can foster meaningful dialogue, create impactful policies, and drive positive change towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Marlena Wisniak, Senior Advisor, Digital Rights, European Center for Not-for-Profit Law Stichting
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Tereza Horejsova, Outreach Manager, Global Forum on Cyber Expertise, IGF MAG Member
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Peter Marien, Teamleader Digital Governance, European Commission
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Viktor Kapiyo, Member of the Board of Trustees, Kenya ICT Action Network
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The European Commission’s Civil Society Alliances for Digital Empowerment (CADE) initiative, led by the Diplo Foundation and funded by the European Commission, aims to enhance civil society participation in international Internet governance processes, particularly in the Global South. It addresses challenges like fragmented forums, capacity gaps, and a lack of human rights understanding in Internet governance. CADE seeks to promote inclusive Internet governance by involving civil society in a multi-stakeholder manner, addressing issues like women’s rights, language, culture, and indigenous groups’ rights. It emphasizes diversity, capacity building, and collaboration between North and South for effective Internet governance.
Pavlina Ittelson, Executive Director, Diplo US
The European Commission has launched a new initiative called Civil Society Alliances for Digital Empowerment (CADE), led by the Diplo Foundation and funded by the European Commission. This project aims to enhance civil society participation in international Internet governance (IG) processes, with a particular focus on the Global South. The goal is to address the challenges faced in IG, including the fragmentation of forums, lack of capacity and understanding of human rights impacts, and the requirements of technological development. The initiative seeks to promote a more inclusive approach to Internet governance by involving civil society in a multi-stakeholder manner, allowing for the inclusion of diverse perspectives. By doing so, it can bring attention to issues such as women’s rights, language and culture aspects, and the rights of indigenous groups, which are currently underrepresented in Internet governance forums. The lack of diversity and inclusion within specialist standardization bodies is also highlighted as a concern. Efforts should be made to address these disparities and ensure that a wider range of perspectives are considered in decision-making processes. Capacity building, grassroots participation, and engagement guidance are identified as key areas requiring attention for civil society organizations to effectively contribute to IG processes and advocate for their interests. Partnerships between civil society organizations from the Global North and Global South are encouraged to facilitate knowledge sharing and collaboration for a more equitable and effective approach to Internet governance. Trivial technical solutions are seen as potential remedies for scalability issues within IG, such as replacing challenging anti-bot measures to improve accessibility and user experience. Opportunities for public engagement are found in the environmental sector and youth rights, where public involvement can contribute to progress. While collective input from civil society organizations is valuable, it is important to strike a balance between collective action and the preservation of diverse opinions and perspectives. Ensuring that diverse voices are included is essential for effective decision-making processes. Collaboration between organizations and network building can greatly benefit civil society by amplifying their impact and creating a stronger collective voice. Navigating participation procedures in various international bodies remains a challenge for civil society, but strategic engagement in specific forums can help achieve their goals. Long-term involvement and understanding trends are considered crucial for success. In conclusion, the CADE project aims to empower civil society and promote their active participation in international Internet governance. Addressing the challenges of fragmentation, capacity building, diversity, and inclusion is crucial to achieving a more inclusive and effective approach to Internet governance. Through partnerships, collaboration, and strategic engagement, civil society can play a significant role in shaping the Internet’s future.
Viktor Kapiyo, Member of the Board of Trustees, Kenya ICT Action Network
Civil society organizations from the Global South face various challenges in their work. One major challenge is the difficulty in accessing global processes due to financial barriers. These organizations often lack the necessary resources to participate in international meetings and forums, limiting their ability to have their voices heard on important issues. Additionally, the limited internet reach in the Global South further exacerbates this problem, hindering their ability to engage in online discussions and access relevant information. Furthermore, there are only a few organizations in the region that focus on internet governance, isolating the voices of civil society in these discussions.
However, there is a positive sentiment towards the need for awareness and capacity building among more people in the Global South. The Kenya School of Internet Governance has played a critical role in this regard, having trained nearly 5,000 individuals on internet governance in just six years. The idea is to make internet governance conversations accessible to everyone, acknowledging that anyone with an email is a stakeholder. This approach recognises the unique contexts of local organizations and aims to amplify their voices in global discussions.
Collaborative approaches and coalition-building are also considered crucial in the field of digital rights. By forming partnerships and working together, organizations can address the lack of linkages that previously existed across various digital rights organizations. This collaboration allows for collective problem-solving, knowledge exchange, capacity building, and resource leveraging. By combining the competencies of different organizations, particularly in terms of physical presence and understanding local dynamics, their collective impact is strengthened.
Additionally, partnering with organizations from the Global North can benefit those in the Global South. Global North organizations often have established relationships with policymakers and a better understanding of local dynamics, which facilitates the presentation of views by Global South organizations. Such partnerships also lead to capacity building and knowledge exchange. Global North organizations possess technical resources, such as ICT skills, which Global South organizations can leverage to enhance their work.
Funders also play a crucial role in strengthening civil society organizations. However, disjointed and fragmented funding can create problems for these organizations. Global South organizations often find themselves competing for the same funds to address similar problems, hindering collaboration. Moreover, funders’ goals do not always align with the specific needs of organizations in the Global South. Therefore, it is essential for funders to coordinate their goals and understand the dynamics of Global South organizations to provide effective support.
Building good relationships with legislators and demonstrating expertise is crucial for civil society organizations when trying to influence legislation. It is important to establish these relationships before submitting views and demonstrate the potential value that the organization can bring to the legislative process.
Working collaboratively with other civil society organizations and presenting a united front can add weight to arguments. This approach demonstrates strength in numbers and increases the impact of advocacy efforts.
Finally, being prepared for potential counterarguments and understanding the local context are crucial for civil society organizations. By being well-prepared, organizations can effectively respond to opposing arguments and address the specific concerns and needs of their local communities.
In conclusion, civil society organizations from the Global South face various challenges, including limited access to global processes, internet reach, and organizational capacity. However, there is a positive sentiment towards the need for awareness, capacity building, and collaboration. Partnering with organizations from the Global North, coordinating funders’ goals, building relationships with legislators, working collaboratively, and being prepared are essential strategies for strengthening civil society organizations and making a meaningful impact.
Marlena Wisniak, Senior Advisor, Digital Rights, European Center for Not-for-Profit Law Stichting
Stakeholder engagement is considered a vital component of policymaking at all levels. It emphasises the need for collaboration, iteration, and inclusivity, ensuring that stakeholders’ voices are heard and that they have influence over the decision-making process. However, there is a clear power imbalance between stakeholders, hindering inclusivity in policymaking. This asymmetry of power is evident in the unequal playing field between civil society, the private sector, and states, as well as regional disparities and safety issues that impede activist participation.
To address these challenges, transparency in stakeholder engagement is essential, ensuring public visibility of participation mechanisms and discussion outcomes. Proper resourcing, including financial contributions and trainings, is crucial for effective multi-stakeholder participation, particularly for marginalized groups and non-digital rights organizations.
Participation in standardization processes, especially in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), is complex due to its technical nature. Civil society’s limited representation in standardization bodies, with a disproportionate focus on digital rights organizations and AI expertise, hinders diversity and inclusivity in these processes.
Global North organizations can learn from global majority-based organizations to incorporate diverse perspectives. However, stakeholder engagement faces resistance in many countries outside the United States and Europe, requiring innovative advocacy strategies.
International governance mechanisms may have limited influence in the European Union (EU) and the United States (US) but greatly impact national regulations within the global majority. UNESCO guidelines and recommendations from entities like the United Nations (UN) shape national regulations, though enforcement can sometimes become problematic.
The diversity of civil society and the global majority, including different languages and cultural norms, should be considered in policymaking and stakeholder engagement processes.
In the context of internet governance, there is a need for more inclusive perspectives. Incorporating learnings from initiatives like the Digital Services Act (DSA) Human Rights Alliance is important in shaping international internet governance.
While inclusive informal networks exist, coordination among these networks proves challenging, impacting effective stakeholder engagement and collaboration.
Privileged and well-networked organizations have the advantage of exposure and influence, creating an unequal platform for stakeholder engagement. This inequality must be addressed to achieve inclusivity.
Organizations need to take responsibility for bringing in new voices and perspectives, such as offering panel spots to others or having someone accompany them to ensure representation.
Understanding the UN advocacy process is challenging, even with dedicated UN advocacy officers, hindering effective stakeholder engagement in international policymaking.
In conclusion, stakeholder engagement is crucial for effective policymaking, necessitating the addressing of power imbalances, promoting transparency and accountability, providing resources and training, and embracing inclusivity. Considerations include international governance mechanisms, language and cultural diversity, and coordination within informal networks. Call for organizations to bring in new voices persists, while understanding the UN advocacy process is crucial to effective stakeholder engagement.
Jovan Kurbalija, Executive Director, DiploFoundation
The analysis of the speakers’ statements reveals several noteworthy points regarding the impact of triviality on people’s participation in large systems. One speaker highlights the influence of navigation experience in UN corridors on individuals’ sense of belonging and their feeling of being part of the process. The speaker suggests that this experience can shape people’s participation in the system, implying that a positive and inclusive navigation experience can enhance engagement.
Another significant concern raised by the speakers is the accessibility of documents from various international bodies such as the UN, EU, and others. It is argued that the lack of interactivity in PDF formats can hinder the accessibility of these documents. The speakers suggest that the static nature of PDF formats may limit the ability of individuals to engage with the content effectively, potentially excluding certain groups from participating fully.
Furthermore, the design of UN Secretary General policy briefs is highlighted as not being online-friendly. It is suggested that the current design may pose challenges for users trying to access and engage with the content online. This aspect negatively affects the user experience and may impede people’s ability to participate in policy development processes.
The sentiment among the speakers towards the current state of information accessibility in policy development processes is largely negative. The mention of the European AI Act exemplifies this sentiment, as its complex display hinders consultation, potentially limiting effective engagement. However, there is a positive aspect as well. The analysis reveals an acknowledgement of the importance of encouraging alternative thinking and creativity in the current world context. This suggests that fostering diverse perspectives and innovative approaches can contribute to more inclusive and effective policy development.
In conclusion, the analysis highlights the importance of considering the impact of triviality on people’s participation in large systems. It emphasizes the need for a positive and inclusive navigation experience in institutional settings such as the UN. Additionally, it underscores the significance of improving the accessibility of documents from international bodies, including the design of policy briefs. The sentiment of connectivity and engagement in policy development processes is largely negative, but there is a recognition of the value of alternative thinking and creativity. These insights provide valuable considerations for policymakers and institutions aiming to enhance public participation and effective governance.
Peter Marien, Teamleader Digital Governance, European Commission
The need for strong participation of civil society in global digital governance is emphasised as a positive argument in the context of the EU. The EU strongly advocates for civil society involvement as it believes that without it, societies tend to drift off in directions that are not aligned with a human-centric model. Similarly, advocating for multi-stakeholder level discussions is seen as positive and necessary. It is argued that certain discussions should not be limited to intergovernmental talks alone.
However, there is a negative aspect to consider as well – the lack of knowledge and capacity within civil society organisations. It is observed that civil society faces challenges internally within the European Commission, and there is a general lack of know-how when it comes to global digital governance. This lack of expertise and capacity hinder the effective participation of civil society in shaping digital governance policies.
The importance of inclusion of the Global South in digital dialogue is seen as a positive argument. It is noted that there is currently a gap in participation from the Global South in global digital governance. An initiative led by the DiploFoundation known as the Civil Society Alliances for Digital Empowerment (CADE) project is mentioned as being instrumental in addressing this gap.
Furthermore, it is highlighted that more capacity and resources are needed for civil society to participate meaningfully in internet governance discussions. The fast-paced nature of the internet scene and the increased global attention to these issues, particularly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, create a demand for civil society to possess not just the know-how, but also the necessary resources for participation.
Peter Marien, a supporter of civil society’s meaningful participation in internet governance discussions, emphasises the importance of investment in capacity building and resource allocation. He argues that adopting new technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), requires resources for meaningful participation, especially since AI has become a fundamental topic in internet governance.
Initiating consultation processes with the general public is seen as beneficial and positive. Notably, a Nobel laureate journalist actively interviewed a random selection of individuals, which had a significant impact. Extensive consultation processes, which sometimes receive thousands to tens of thousands of inputs from society and are sometimes even analysed by AI, occur in EU legislation processes.
Additionally, it is argued that consultation processes should also involve non-experts, as citizens, despite lacking expertise, can have a notable impact. This underlines the value of diverse perspectives and the democratization of public engagement.
In terms of diplomacy and communication, it is acknowledged by Peter Marien that sensitivity should be maintained when dealing with such matters. This implies that diplomatic interactions require a tactful approach to foster constructive dialogue.
Peter recommends seeking dialogue and creating a trusted relationship with the involved government when it comes to government relations and policy-making. He refers to experiences in other countries, like Kenya, where open dialogue has been beneficial.
Finally, it is suggested that reaching out through other organizations that may have better access to open dialogue can be fruitful. By collaborating with strategic alliances and other organizations, civil society can effectively enter the conversation and contribute to the discourse on internet governance.
In conclusion, the expanded summary highlights the need for strong civil society participation, the importance of multi-stakeholder discussions, the lack of knowledge and capacity within civil society, the inclusion of the Global South, the necessity for increased capacity and resources, Peter Marien’s support for investment in capacity building, the benefits of initiating consultation processes with the public including non-experts, the importance of maintaining sensitivity in diplomacy and communication, the significance of building a trusted relationship with the government, and the suggestion of reaching out through other organizations for open dialogue. These various aspects contribute to shaping effective global digital governance and promoting a human-centric model. The summary aims to be an accurate reflection of the main analysis text.
Tereza Horejsova, Outreach Manager, Global Forum on Cyber Expertise, IGF MAG Member
The arguments and stances presented emphasize the importance of civil society in policy processes. Civil society organizations are viewed as crucial actors in policy development, as they often prioritize the interests of individuals. They provide multiple perspectives and efficient coordination mechanisms, enabling policy processes to benefit from a wide range of viewpoints.
The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is highlighted as a significant platform for civil society to engage with others and influence relevant issues. Traditionally, the IGF has been dominated by civil society participation, and it offers a safe space for civil society to have a say in the governance of the internet.
Moreover, the contribution of all stakeholders, including the private sector and civil society, is considered vital for the development of digital policy. It is argued that it would be absurd to discuss digital policy without consulting these stakeholders, as their involvement ensures a more inclusive and comprehensive approach.
The Global Forum on Cyber Expertise (GFC) is recognized for acknowledging the importance of multi-stakeholder cooperation in capacity building related to cyber security. The GFC serves as a platform for actors involved in cyber security to come together and work collaboratively towards building expertise in this field.
Despite these positive aspects, there are concerns about the effectiveness of consulting civil society organizations in a superficial or “tick-the-box” approach. Civil society organizations have varied agendas and objectives, making it challenging to consult them effectively. Some policy fora are criticized for conducting pro-forma consultations that do not necessarily lead to meaningful outcomes. This lack of sufficient coordination of priorities among donors is seen as a barrier to the effective involvement of civil society organizations in policy forums.
On a different note, Tereza Horejsova’s perspective is highlighted, as she believes in the importance of introducing new and inexperienced voices in panels. She encourages experimenting with panel compositions to achieve fresh perspectives and downplays the risks associated with having first-time panelists. This approach fosters inclusivity and contributes to reducing gender inequalities and promoting diversity in panel discussions.
In summary, the arguments and stances presented emphasize the crucial role that civil society organizations play in policy processes. They bring valuable inputs, diverse perspectives, and efficient coordination mechanisms. The Internet Governance Forum and the Global Forum on Cyber Expertise are identified as important platforms for civil society to engage in relevant discussions. However, there are concerns about the superficiality of consultations and the lack of sufficient coordination among donors. Additionally, Tereza Horejsova’s perspective highlights the need for inclusivity and fresh perspectives in panel compositions. These observations underscore the significance of multi-stakeholder cooperation and the active involvement of civil society in policy development processes.
Technical standards bodies can be complex and overwhelming, making it challenging for new participants to navigate and contribute effectively. These bodies consist of numerous working and study groups within each organization, leading to a fragmented landscape. It can be difficult for newcomers to determine which meetings to attend and how to make meaningful contributions. The dominance of the United States and Europe in these bodies further complicates the situation, potentially marginalising participants from other regions around the world.
However, there are strategies and structures that can support and facilitate smoother participation. One such approach is the provision of engagement strategies and support, such as financial assistance and assistance with visa processes. For instance, Article 19’s Global Digital Program offers support structures that take care of finances and visa processes for participants. They also provide one-on-one mentorship to help participants understand complex concepts and bounce ideas off after meetings. This support helps participants overcome logistical barriers and align the priorities of civil society organisations with the needs and objectives of technical standards bodies.
Cooperation and collaboration between the Global North and Global South in technical standards bodies should embrace an inclusive approach and avoid a white-saviorist mentality. There is much to learn from the Global South, and creative advocacy strategies can flourish outside of the US and Europe. By embracing a collaborative approach that respects the knowledge and expertise of all regions, technical standards bodies can become more equitable and representative.
International governance mechanisms have a significant impact on national regulation, particularly in the global majority. Entities like UNESCO recommendations can disproportionately influence national regulatory frameworks, potentially shaping policies that may not be in the best interests of countries in the global majority. Therefore, it is important for these governance mechanisms to involve a diverse range of voices and perspectives to ensure fair and inclusive decision-making processes.
It is crucial to acknowledge that civil society and the global majority are not monoliths. There is significant diversity within regions, and even within a single country like India, there are multiple languages and perspectives. Recognising this diversity strengthens the ability to address inequalities and promote inclusivity within technical standards bodies.
Capacity building is a process that takes time and cannot be achieved in a day. This is particularly evident in areas like climate change, where developing the necessary expertise and infrastructure to meet the goals outlined in global agreements like the Paris Agreement is a long-term endeavour. Recognising the gradual nature of capacity building is crucial to avoid unrealistic expectations and foster sustainable progress.
Citizen participation at the local level plays a crucial role in addressing global issues. As demonstrated during the Paris Agreement process, citizen assemblies can provide valuable input and insights. Encouraging citizen participation in different parts of the world can foster capacity building and contribute to global efforts to address pressing challenges.
Institutional capacity building is vital for civil societies. By strengthening their institutional structures, civil society organisations can better engage with governments and stakeholders to influence policy making. For example, the pending implementation of India’s Personal Data Protection Act and Digital India Act highlights the need for a strong front when dealing with governments. These regulations will impact the digital activities of 1.4 billion people, emphasising the importance of civil society organisations advocating for their interests.
When engaging with governments and policymakers, alternative methods of engagement beyond traditional consultation processes should be explored. Consultation processes prior to the introduction of a bill in India, for example, have proven to be more fruitful in generating meaningful engagement. Finding ways to engage directly with parliamentarians and government officials can lead to more effective and impactful involvement.
While common input by civil society organisations can be valuable, it is important to strike a balance between shared perspectives and maintaining a variety of opinions and perspectives. Overlooking the diversity of opinions within civil society organisations can limit the range of perspectives presented and potentially hinder inclusive decision-making processes.
Collaboration between donors is crucial for promoting synergies and avoiding duplication of efforts. Donors such as the European Union and the State Department are often working on similar projects but may not be collaborating effectively. Encouraging collaboration among donors can lead to more efficient and coordinated support for initiatives and maximise impact.
Creating a wider network of civil society organisations can foster sharing and collaboration. This approach allows organisations to build upon each other’s work, share resources, and learn from one another’s experiences. By creating a supportive network, civil society organisations can collectively address challenges and contribute to social progress.
Rules for interaction in vast spaces, such as international forums and technical standards bodies, need to be shared and clarified to facilitate effective engagement. Currently, the lack of definitive rules and different interaction styles across spaces can hinder meaningful communication and collaboration. Workshops to brief participants on interaction techniques and establish common ground for engagement are proposed as a possible solution.
In conclusion, navigating and contributing to technical standards bodies can be challenging due to their complex nature. However, supporting engagement strategies, fostering collaboration, and promoting inclusivity are essential for facilitating participation and ensuring the effective functioning of these bodies. Empowering civil society organisations, embracing diverse perspectives, and building strong institutional capacity are key components of this process. By working together, stakeholders can foster meaningful dialogue, create impactful policies, and drive positive change towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
and the inclusiveness of the spaces here in the right room. I see that this is a time where everybody would rather take a nap with a jet lag than discuss serious topics, but we do have a wonderful panel and a good topic today, so I hope you will all be engaged. And we see this as an open forum, as a dialogue, as a learning experience, and we’d like to hear as much from you. And I see a lot of expertise in the room as from our panel. And let me kick us off then with introducing myself. So my name is Pavlina Ittelson I’m the Executive Director of Diplo-US, and I’ll be moderating this session and also speaking on behalf of Diplo Foundation. We have Peter Merian, Team Leader of Digital Governance, Unit 5 in Science Technology Innovation at DG INTPA. We have Teresa, IGF MAG member, GFC Outreach Manager, and esteemed board member of Diplo-US. Then we have Victor Kapiyo, member of the Board of Trustees of Kenya ICT Action Network. And Marlena Vyshnyak, Senior Advisor of Digital Rights of European Center for Nonprofit Law, ECNL. We also have online participation, and my colleague Sita Lakshmi is as a moderator who will come in with the questions from online. So what are we going to be talking about? We will discuss in this session a new initiative by the European Commission, where Diplo Foundation is a part of, and a new project, Civil Society Alliances for Digital Empowerment, CADE, led by Diplo Foundation, working with nine partners globally that aims to increase participation of the civil society into international IG processes, just funded by European Commission. We have partners at this table and some in the audience as well. There are Forus International, ECNL, CIPESA, KictaNET, Sarvodaya Fusion, Vision for Change, SMEX, Fundacion Carisma, and PICISOC So quite a big group and quite a diversity of views on our end. So our aim is to discuss how to improve and enhance engagement of civil society organizations in multi-stakeholder forums. What challenges do civil society face in meaningful engagement? And also, how can we bring in the perspective of Global South, civil society into the international multi-stakeholder forums? Specifically, we will talk also about standardization forums at ITU, IETF, and ICANN. So with this, I would ask Peter to start us off with a short introduction, please.
Thank you very much. Good afternoon, everybody, or maybe people online, good morning or good evening. Thanks a lot for giving me the mic. I think I’m probably the least knowledgeable in the room on the topic. But anyway, I’m glad to kick it off. So maybe a bit of context, because as was mentioned, we are moving into a new project on this topic, and I’d just like to shape a little bit how we got to that point. So about three years ago, the topic of digital became a priority for the European Commission. And in my DG International Partnerships, we were looking at how to best approach this topic to work at this. Specifically, we’re looking at this topic at the global level, national level, regional level, and of course, at different thematic levels. And when we looked at this specific topic, we always look at this through our lens of a human-centric digital development. And that means that, of course, the human is centric, not the state, not the company. And also, as you’ve probably heard many times before, we are aiming at tackling the digital divide. So very soon we came on this topic of global digital governance. What does this mean? This was quite new to us. This is also why I have to stress we are still in learning mode. And another aspect of our approach is that we wanted to look at this topic from a multilateral point of view, and also from a multi-stakeholder point of view. And this is key. You know, EU is a very strong proponent of the multi-stakeholder approach, IGF processes and others. But we also looked at this through the multilateral approach and when we started looking at this multilateral level, we noticed that even though everybody claims to be proponents of the multi-stakeholder model, maybe not all the actors in the multi-stakeholder prism are there. And so specifically, we thought that maybe on the topic of civil society, that that could be a topic that we would like to see worked on. So I was talking about digital, but of course, on the other hand, EU is a strong proponent of civil society in general. So I won’t go too deep into that, but for us, it’s clear that in the absence of a strong participation of civil society, we tend to see, if you look at history, or even today, we tend to see societies drifting off in directions that are not aligned
with our human-centric model, let’s say, or with our free democratic societies, okay. So this is a bit where we come from. So then the question was, okay, on global digital government, who needs to be around the table? So we were looking at this EU and agencies, and we also noticed that there are actors out there which are pushing some of these discussions into the intergovernmental sphere. Also at this IGF, I think this is a topic that’s coming up quite a lot. And so we just want to emphasize again that we really would like to have certain discussions, global discussions at the multi-stakeholder level. We’re the first proponent worldwide for the multilateral system, don’t get us wrong, but certain discussions should not just be intergovernmental. And so this is where we are. Now, when we looked at, okay, how shall we approach then the topic of civil society, I’m sure we will get back in more detail into that later, but just a few things. On the one hand, we noticed possibly a lack of know-how on the topic and a lack of capacity. Now, I have to say, we face the same issues internally. So this is not something that is only for civil society organizations. Even in our own DG, in our own unit, there are very few people that actually know this topic and we actually barely have resources to cover this. So it’s not unique. That’s the first thing. Second was that even though civil society was present, then maybe not at the volume, so at the amount that we wanted. So I’ll not go too much into that now. Okay, just to emphasize also that for us, in our perspective, when we talk about digital, we link this to the topic of rights, fundamental rights. So this is fundamental for any of our discussions that whatever we talk about, in the end, it has to be aligned with our views on the rights-based approach, basically also aligned with the UN Charter of Human Rights. And that underpins many of the discussions that we can have afterwards. And then another thing is that we wanted to make sure that the Global South is involved
because when we looked at the capacity, there are actually actors also in civil society that are very knowledgeable, that have a track record, but that was not, I mean, we saw then maybe gaps in the global south. So we wanted to work on that. Last thing, I’m almost finished. This program for us has to be, we positioned this in an overall program where we work on digital and multilateral, so digital and multilateral, and so in that context, just for information, we’re also working with ITU and UNDP, so I mean, we have, you know, we’re funding them for actions on digital and multilateral. ITU, UNDP, also OHCHR on rights, UNESCO, and we’re also working with the tech envoy. Of course, we’re working with EU member states, and then, as was mentioned, and this is quite new, so this is the first time for us on this specific topic, we now have two actions that will start soon, and one is indeed with, under the leadership, well, you know, chaired by Diplo, as was explained. So thank you so much, and I’ll pass the word back.
Thank you, Peter, and we certainly appreciate your insight on how European Commission views the participation of civil society. I think it resonates a lot with what we see in the field as well, and we certainly agree, working with the small and developing states, that the capacity problem is not only on the side of civil society, but with fragmentations of different forums and shifting things, it is an overall problem which needs addressing. With that, let’s go to Teresa, with her IGF mag hat to tell us more about how the international forum sees this problem.
Thank you very much, Pavlina. Thanks also, Peter. Well, first of all, congratulations. Not only to the grantee, and a good one, and with excellent consortium, but also for, you know, you as the donor recognizing the issue and the problem, and deciding to make it a priority, because it is important. You know, I will start with a few reflections on why I feel, in general, inputs of civil society are essential in the various policy processes that we are dealing with. You know, of course, you know, many of the deliberations that are happening here for, like Pavlina has mentioned, you know, actually, you know, impact the individual. And it’s often the civil society organizations that have the interests of the individuals really close to their heart. But beyond this kind of existential reasoning, I feel that more and more we are moving in some kind of a general culture of multi-stakeholderism and, you know, that leading, hopefully, to kind of more efficient coordination mechanisms. So, you know, basically, with a few exceptions of some very hard policy issues, it’s very difficult to think of a policy process that wouldn’t benefit from multiple perspectives, from multiple stakeholder groups, obviously, including civil society, which can ultimately lead to better and more informed policymaking. So, you know, even if you, like, we are talking here about civil society, but, you know, think also about other stakeholder groups, like, for instance, how absurd would it be to discuss some digital policy developments without being in touch with the private sector, you know. So, I feel that the same absurdity would stand for not consulting the civil society. So, I’m wearing a couple of hats today. As Pavlina mentioned, you know, one hat is ex-DIPLO, current board member of DIPLO-US. The second one, Pavlina said, IGF-MAG member, but actually, as of this morning, that’s not the case because I have served my three years, yes, but I hope that it still allows me to provide some perspectives on the current forum. So IGF is very traditionally dominated by civil society participation. It’s not the stakeholder group that the IGF is struggling with, there are actually other stakeholder groups where the struggle is more of an issue. So in this sense, really, I feel it is a safe space and also the magic space in a way for civil society to allow to engage with others without the pressure of necessarily kind of having a negotiation or a very concrete outcome in this regard. So that’s something that definitely should be protected, you know, and I’m really curious once this IGF is over, you know, how the chart of the various stakeholder representation will look like. But as usual, I will expect very, very heavy domination of civil society. That’s also why civil society, and maybe rightly so, is very defensive about any kind of, yeah, how to put it, you know, maybe some concerns about the future of the IGF. So you will really hear a lot of voices you’re hearing already and will hear in the coming months, even more, because at this moment, there is no equivalent to a space like the Internet Governance Forum where civil society could have so much opportunities to express and in a way to also influence the discourse on the issues that are here. I’m happy then to go more in detail about how it actually works, what’s the role of the MAG in this sense, but that’s maybe if we have time. And the last hat I’m wearing, and allow me just a very, very short mention,
I currently work with the Global Forum on Cyber Expertise, the GFC. For those of you not familiar, we are actually also like a platform or a member organizations for various actors that are involved in especially capacity building issues and particularly related to cyber security. And I think from the whole vision, how the GFC wants to bring these actors together, it’s also one of the organizations that has got how crucial it is to have various actors from all across the stakeholder spectrum to get together and exchange on issues related to cyber in particular. So I’ll probably stop here and look forward to the discussion.
All right, now I’ll turn to Marlena, because we did have a very extensive position from Teresa on the engagement of civil society. So from the position of ECNL and advocacy position, could you bring your perspective on the topic, please?
Sure, thanks so much, Pavlina. Hi, everyone. It’s great to be here today. I’m Marlena Wisniak. I lead the emerging tech and AI work at the European Center for Nonprofit Law, a civic space and human rights organization based in Europe. And I live in San Francisco, so a lot of interaction with the tech companies, which I assume you mentioned as a stakeholder is often missing. So just a couple opening remarks, and we’ll dive deeper into the conversation. But at ECNL, we really see stakeholder engagement as a cross-cutting and necessary component of any kind of policymaking at the national, regional, and global levels. And we really see it as a collaborative process, so it’s not just a one-time mechanism where we hear someone speak, but it’s an iterative process where folks have different ways to intervene depending on where they are, what their capacity is, what their resources are, and fundamentally that they can meaningfully influence the process. And that’s something that’s hard to quantify for now. It’s one thing to listen. It’s another thing to actually have our voices heard and implemented. And of course, in terms of beyond IGF, just policymaking and regulatory mechanisms in particular lie within this state, so decision-making is… member state or governments, but I think there’s more evidence that should be, or evidence-based research that should be done to really see how much of these consultations are impactful. There’s something also like stakeholder fatigue, where we have lots of consultations. And to be clear, ECNL always pushes for multi-stakeholder participation, and we are deeply concerned also about the future of IGF in particular, including where IGF 2024 may be, for those who have heard. But all this to say that it’s not enough to just have multi-stakeholder, it has to be properly resourced, including not only financial participation, but also trainings, especially for organizations that aren’t digital rights organizations, so that they can meaningfully participate. And I’m thinking especially here, marginalized groups like feminist groups, queer, racial justice, immigration, refugee groups, so that their voices can also be heard in a way that is meaningful. And fundamentally, there is an asymmetry of power between stakeholders, beyond the resource and financial access. I don’t think it’s a secret that there’s no level playing field between civil society, private sector, states. And within these sectors, these sectors are not a monolith either. So there is no such thing as one singular civil society or one private sector. There’s obviously a regional disparity. I’m very privileged to work for a European-based organization living in San Francisco. So I can pay my way to come to Japan. I don’t even need a visa. I have a U.S. and EU citizenship. So pretty much open to the entire world in terms of travel. That’s not the same for most of my colleagues. I’m also generally much safer. That’s not the case for a lot of activists and human rights defenders around the world. So having in place mechanisms that enable safe participation
is just as important as enabling participation in of itself. And I will just end here. I know the rest of the session will continue on these topics that stakeholder engagement comes hand in hand with transparency. And that means that while closed door meetings are important and often necessary, there also needs to be public, transparent information about where to participate, how, what has been discussed, what are the outcomes of it to enable true accountability. Thank you.
Thank you, Marlena. We certainly hear you on the running marathons on sprint muscles. Yes, we do face the same issues where the engagement of civil society in international forum is a long-term engagement, long-term work, often decades. So the proper mechanism, not only on the sides of international organization, need to be in place, but systematically within the civil society organizations and within the funding scheme as well. Now, you mentioned also being from the Global North organization and having certain privileges. I would like to turn to Victor from the Global South part and to tell us more about what challenges are faced in the Global South and the civil society organizations participation.
Yes, thank you very much. From Kiktenet, which is a think tank based in Nairobi, we seek to promote the multi-stakeholder approach in the work that we do and to ensure that outcomes are actually meaningful for communities at the local level. We believe that the multi-stakeholder model is important, not just in for us but it’s not there in all the countries that we are working in environments where the relationship between civil society and government is not always good, which can affect the feedback or the responses to civil society proposals, because civil society has sometimes been labeled as noisemakers, and therefore when you present views with just those noisemakers, so in as much as we have the challenges at the local level, I think it is more difficult in global processes where you have the burden of getting the air ticket and the visa and all those many kilometers that you have to travel to make your point, which sometimes is not the case for global north organizations. So, for example, in Africa, for example, where we come from, the challenges of financing and the cost is a barrier to access. Issues around the technical capacity. We are aware that many organizations, at least the internet reach hasn’t been much, and mainstream organizations have not focused a lot on digital rights or internet governance issues. And as a result, you have very few organizations that are working in internet governance space. And they cannot solve all the problems in as much as the problems are well known. So you have few organizations, which they’re not always adequately resourced to with the capacity, whether it is human or financial or technical to respond to all the challenges or emerging challenges in the region. And so only you’re able to perhaps take, I don’t know, deal with, what is it called? The ice, the tip of the iceberg, right? So maybe that’s what they’re able to deal with. But the bigger problem sometimes remain unaddressed, yet we have an increasing population that is getting online across the continents.
And that means that we need to be able to get more people on board to speak up for all these new communities that are joining. A new challenge is that previously, it was easy to have multi-stakeholder for internet because there weren’t so many users. So now everybody uses. So who is the stakeholder? Who should be in and who should be out? And how can we bring these conversations to everybody? Because everybody with a email account is a stakeholder, right? So getting people to actually recognize that they do have a voice and they should be able to speak up and engage. I think that realization has not come for many people because then of these barriers. And I think the other aspect is that for local organizations, you have very, very unique context which you’re working in and different realities from those of the global south. And this perspective sometimes are not always, it’s not always possible to have them articulated in the spaces where the decisions are being made. For example, I’ve participated in OEWG sessions. and other sessions where you are in the room but you don’t get to speak. Or you’re in the room but you are allocated only three minutes to say what you need to say and that’s not always enough. We are grateful for hybrid participation because it has really opened up the space for participation but not everybody is aware of the situation and I think sometimes organizations in our countries are dealing with other problems like internet connectivity so most of the time they’re looking down, trying to connect to rural communities and trying to deal with the digital rights challenges at the local level that they forget the big picture that actually there are global and regional processes that they need to pay attention to. So you end up dealing with home solutions or home problems and when you hear that decisions are being made, you’re like, but how am I supposed to get there and get my voice heard? So that’s challenge of the disconnect between the local work and the regional and global processes and even just being able to deploy resources to keep up with the number of initiatives that are ongoing at the same time.
Even for some people you speak to them in the corridors here and the confusion, which session, you’re one representative and there are how many meetings at IGF and you are the one person who’s come and you want to make an impact so you may not have the capacity to attend or figure out where to make the most impact so and of course that’s a resourcing or something challenge. Of course now people can participate virtually but there’s that mountain that global processes, regional processes seem like a big mountain to overcome but I think not to paint a all gloom picture., this region has changed from 10 years ago. We now have more people, we have more voices and we have quite a number of local initiatives and organisations that are actually working on the internet government spaces. Just to give you just one example., KictaNet, we have been running the Kenya School of Internet Governance (KeSIG) for the past six years, and we have trained almost 5,000 people on internet governance, and it is just in Kenya, and we hope with more people knowing what is happening, then they can be able to make at least a chip on that iceberg to make a difference. Thank you.
Thank you, Victor. There is a lot of points I could reflect on, but from the position of Diplo Foundation, that is something we see and the main, three main issues we see is the fragmentation of forums where the internet governance is discussed. It’s more and more. Also forums where the internet governance is discussed are going into more detailed discussions, requiring more resources both on capacity, both on civil society organizations and governments, because when we work with small and developing states, they just say, I don’t have the capacity to go in and speak every other week somewhere on this. So we definitely hear that. Another point is the lack of capacity, of understanding of human rights impacts of technological development, of standardization, and of course civil society is also the technical community. On that side, it is from the other side. It is from the side of the human rights implications where the understanding of technology is there, but the implications of what that technology, when it is launched, can effect is sometimes not there. So we do have this gap we’re trying to bridge, and that is with capacity building, that is with outreach and advocacy. basically creating networks of civil society organizations in the global south and connecting them to global north organizations which could support them and help each other basically, because global north organizations also do not possess all the knowledge in the world. And bring those issues which are not currently at the Internet governance forums but are on a regional or local level related, for example, to indigenous groups, to women’s rights, to certain cultural or language aspects of Internet governance to the global level. So with that, what can we do? We all agree it’s beneficial to have civil society at the table. We all agree there are challenges to that. And what can we do? So Peter, if you could maybe expand on that and explain to us where the European Commission stands.
Thank you. Thanks very much. Again, I think I’m not sure that I’m the best to respond to that, but I’ll give some thoughts. So I think actually quite a few things have already been said, so I might be repeating a few things. Okay, how can we make sure that there’s more participation of civil society if indeed it is needed? I think the first thing is that, well, not the first, but one of the main things is that the capacity has to be there. I mean, to participate in the discussion, you have to have the know-how to participate. Or I’ll say it differently, if you want to participate meaningfully, because indeed we can all participate, but to participate meaningfully, you might need to have a little bit more knowledge on certain topics. It doesn’t mean we have to become ICT specialists. Far from that. Actually, not at all. but we need to know the broader implications, where does it fit in society, in the processes, what are the political implications, who do we need to contact to have an impact and all these things. So I think it’s about capacity. Efforts are being done at all levels, but it’s simply the scene is moving so fast that we’re probably running a little bit behind, especially maybe with the last few years, I’m just guessing, but I think maybe also with the COVID situation, to shift from society to move online has been quite dramatic. And this has maybe increased the world’s attention to these issues. And so to deal with this more adequately, this capacity has to follow. So I think it’s the first thing. I hope I’m responding part of the question. Second is then, of course, apart from the know-how, even if you have the know-how and it was mentioned here, then there’s still the question of resources. Now you can follow hybrid, you can participate, we can do so many things thanks to digital technology. Nevertheless, even if you don’t travel, you need resources, you need people dedicated to the work. But even, and then if you want to participate, of course, to events, you need other resources. Maybe to come back to one of the elements in this project that will start soon, is that the idea is to participate that CSOs have a meaningful participation at IGF, but also at other fora,
such as for our organizations, if I can say, such as IETF, ICANN, ITU. Well, to meaningfully participate in ITU working groups, it takes time. And so you need resources for that. Simple. At the moment, it’s companies and states, backed, I think, mainly, operations, that are able to do that and therefore influence. Same for standard setting and so on. And if you don’t have the resources financially also, then this is difficult. So we try to, with this project, but there’s many other ways maybe to partially respond to that. And then maybe to also underline how come that maybe the voices were insufficiently heard. Just maybe reiterate that maybe there has been acceleration of events in the last couple of years because of COVID, but also simply because the adoption of technology. We’ve spoken also about connectivity access, but then of course there’s the new technologies. AI is now the hot topic. Maybe another day it will be something else. I mean, it’s a hot topic, but it’s fundamental. I mean, I’m not diminishing it, but to be able to participate also in the discussions of AI, okay, and the big principles, I think everybody can do that, but to really be on top of it, again, you need to be able to invest in those topics. Thank you.
No, I heard, and part of the project is basically the involvement of civil society in different standardization for, as you mentioned. So ITU, ICANN, IETF, and as we all know in this room, not all of them are equal. Some of them are more open to civil society participation and transparent and have human rights principles set in place for standard setting. ITU and ITUT is another one where the civil society, when the door is closed, they go through the window basically and become part of the government delegations and find different ways to get into one example is Consumers International who do it through the consumer’s rights. So there are ways to get engaged. It’s not an easy one, I would say, but there are ways to get engaged in the ways that once you have the capacity to understand. where the connections are, how to advocate for certain human rights and human-centric values. But let me turn to Marlena to explain to us more on this from the advocacy perspective again. Thank you.
Sure, thanks. So at ECNL we participate in some of the standardization processes, mostly on AI, which is what my team focuses on. And like Peter said, it can be highly technical. So talking about things at the high-level principle levels, such as transparency, participation, that is easier. But then, you know, what does transparency mean in practice? What do we want to be transparent on? And we talk about the standards. It becomes much more technical, and that’s something that we’ve seen as a struggle, especially to get more orgs involved. So my team has expertise on these issues, but it really is a small group of people. And by small, for example, at the EU level, we’re talking about like 10, comparing to hundreds, if not thousands of representatives from the private sector, for example. So even you can, you know, you can see there quantitatively the difference in numbers. And AI, for example, as you mentioned, Peter, is a hot topic now. We started working on it in 2020, and I’ve been focusing on it since 2017. For a long time, it was incredibly niche, so even more close to civil society. And it was a handful, and I literally mean a handful of people working on it. And this year, probably of ChatGPT, that’s my non-empirically tested theory, it has become a big topic on the policy level, right? So I don’t know if anybody was here at UNGA in New York, AI was the topic, folks. So everything, you know, UNGA is not even digital focused. So how do we ride these waves of hotness, to take your piggyback on your hard word, Peter, while at the same time having meaningful participation is a struggle. So specifically at ECNL we participate in the ISO standard 42005 on impact assessment of AI systems. So you can hear already that, hear how nerdy that sounds. And when we have expertise in human rights impact assessments, which I think is a more broadly shared expertise amongst the whole society, but still highly technical. Those working on the UNGPs, for example, should participate more. We’re also part of the IEEE, which I don’t even know what it stands for, International Electronic something. I can Google it. An AI risk management subgroup on organizational governance. So all of this is, you know, very technical as well. At the EU, there’s the CEN-CENELEC, which is the standardization bodies. And actually we managed to we managed to get the European Commission to let me get this right, mandate that the CEN-CENELEC includes civil society and actually they have allocated resources. So CEN-CENELEC, the standardization bodies, have allocated resources to include external stakeholders, and yet they still don’t do it. So even when they are required to do so by the Commission and when they get funds, they’re still very reticent. And when it actually does happen, it’s really, really hard to participate. Right now, to give you an example, it’s mostly ECNL, Article 19, and Center for Democracy and Technology that participates in a handful of academics. So it’s really it’s really a closed space and when it when it’s like honestly pretends to be open, it’s not, even though they if people have the best intentions. And I’d say one positive case study that I’ve seen is in the US NIST,National Institute of Standards and Technology I think. They have been very inclusive in engaging some stakeholders in the risk assessment framework, and also have made it a little bit more welcoming.
But again, you still see a disproportionate participation of not only digital rights orgs, but those with expertise on AI specifically. So there’s always this push and pull between inclusiveness versus needed expertise. And at ECNL, we really try to train other CSOs, both digital rights and non-digital rights, on these issues. If anyone here in this room is interested, check out our learning center. So a shameless plug for ECNL Learning Center on Google, where we have a couple basically courses specifically for CSOs on AI with some specific things like surveillance technology or platforms. So that you can participate a little bit more. And this is just the technical expertise in addition to, obviously, the challenges of visa and funding and everything I mentioned before.
Thank you, Marlena. I’m happy there are also some positive examples, because it did for a while sound like doom and gloom here. We do not have any questions online. But if there are any questions in the room, please feel free. We’ll also have a Q&A session at the end of this block of questions. I see a lot of familiar faces. So please don’t be shy to come to the microphone. I know it’s a little scary to go in the middle of the room sometimes and ask a question. But feel free to also share your experiences, if you have any, with these processes and how they relate. Any takers so far? OK.
Oh, it’s a bit tall for me, sorry. Hi, my name’s Don. I’m with Article 19’s Global Digital Program. We’ve worked to support civil society organizations and individuals primarily from the Global South to participate in technical standards setting bodies. So like everything you’ve said really resonates. Just also what we’ve found has been useful when we’re working with civil society organizations is being able to identify their priorities and then aligning it with what would be useful within technical standards bodies because we recognize, as you said, it’s like a whole fragmented landscape. And even within standards-developing organizations, there are just dozens and dozens of working groups and study groups within each one. And it can be quite overwhelming for organizations to jump into, say, like the IETF and work out which of the 36 meetings they should be attending, like you said. So we’ve actually been working to develop engagement strategies, so being able to support them. And we take on a lot of the, we institutionalize a lot of the support structures. So like in terms of the financial capacity, in terms of like working on the visa processes, like we kind of take care of that. So that organizations and individuals from the Global South don’t need to necessarily have to like put in time and effort to focus on that, but rather scope out the work, be able to understand the concepts that are being brought up. And then we’ve also done a lot of one-on-one mentorship and engagement because we also recognize that these standards bodies have a monoculture. It’s a very like technical space, but it’s also very like Europe and US dominant. And so being able to have someone to go with you to these meetings really helps because I think after these meetings, a lot of the times people are often processing what they’ve learned, what they’ve heard. And so being able to have like someone to be able to bounce ideas and thoughts with post this. So it was just sharing some of our experience. Thank you.
That resonates very well with the project we’re about to start. where there was a big study done by one of the partners for us which found that specialist standardization bodies are male dominated, white dominated, English speaking, inaccessible to any type of variety of opinions by design. So that’s why we’re talking about the running the marathon that it needs to be slowly chipped off and introduced the different opinions presented by the civil society organizations. You also mentioned and I know Victor spoke about it, the participation from the Global South organizations and how we can help them. Part of what we will be doing is there’s a three-pronged approach which is part is capacity building, Diplo will be responsible for. One part is advocacy and bringing in grassroots opinions and networking between the civil society organizations. But also helping those who are ready to do so in engaging with these forums, in engaging through guidance on how to write a briefing for example. How do you go in and present it? What is the best strategy often being involved in these processes to achieve the goals of your organization? With that, I would like to turn back to Victor maybe and ask you about if you could elaborate a little bit of the benefits of building partnerships between the organizations, both Global North and Global South and Global South, Global South civil society organizations.
Thank you. I think there are various advantages to this collaboration. I think first is it addresses the problem of the lack of linkagesthat existed across the various digital rights organisations. We realised that collation building is very important, and collaborative approaches are even more important because we are working to solve the same or similar problem, so having that alignment that you know we are able to share our concerns collectively and figure out what are some of the key emerging themes we want to address. I think that is an important win. The second is that it takes advantage of the competencies of both organisations. If, for example, there is an event in Geneva where one of the global north organisations is based, it is easier for them to cross the road and present the views or ask for a meeting than it is for me to come from Nairobi to get a visa and struggle through trams to make the point. That scaling becomes easy because of physical presence and understanding also the local dynamics. The global north organisations which work closely, whether it is at the UN in New York or EU in Brussels they have built relationships with the various policy makers in those various offices.And therefore, when we come there, it is easy to, you know this is a person to talk to, do not go around, or the office is on the fifth floor, room number five, simple things such as that make a big difference because when you arrive at the UN, it is a big space and having someone who has that local understanding really helps. Also, another thing it helps in terms of capacity building and knowledge exchange between two organisations. Global north organizations may not understand perfectly 100% the context in global south countries, and so this discussion helped in terms of sharing knowledge and exchanging ideas, like what works for us and what works for you, and how then can we build on this. We’re able to present, you know, sometimes access to our government officials is usually difficult at the national level.
Because, you know, you can’t access a minister easily. But sometimes, if you’re able to participate in a global forum, then you’re able to meet the delegation there and still be able to articulate the issues. So there is the benefit of learning from the organizations that have done it before, in terms of even knowing what to say and how to say it, and maximizing that two minutes that perhaps you will have with that person before they dash into the next meeting and say these are the three things that we need you to do. And also leveraging on the other partnerships that we know within the global circles, the influential governments and so on, and all these alignments, and the power mapping that perhaps that skill, the global north organizations have already done and have understood who the power brokers are. I can have my three issues and know who to tell them to, as opposed to going there and wondering where to start from 200 member states, you know. So that beneficial partnership is very useful. It’s an advantage. And of course, more importantly, the resources. They’re able to leverage the technical resources in terms of skill. For example, some of this, the ITF, the IE, they’re very technical. And global south organizations, we might not have a technical person like an ICT person, because now it is becoming. and an important component that human rights organizations is not just lawyers, you must have the techies there and you must have the engineers and so on because some of the issues, I remember once one government official told me, we are discussing spectrum and I’m going there, I’m saying, yes, we want to hear about human rights concerns with this spectrum and I’m like, okay, so who do I bring to say these things and to break down what spectrum actually means for the ordinary citizen on the street. So leveraging on a partnership, we were able to get engineers who’ve done it before and have best practice that then they could be able to review the submission that we were doing and give some perspective. So there are some unique benefits to those alliances and if we’re able to build strong coalitions between Global South organizations
but also with Global North organizations because I think there is a certain power that we can have when we work collaboratively. And I think lastly is for funders because we have, there’s a significant problem when we have different funders who are funding different things and it’s all disjointed and fragmented and they’re supporting the same organizations who are competing for the same basket of funds to do the same problem, to attack the same problem. And so when they’re not coordinated, it is also creating problems for civil society organizations in terms of coordination because we are competing for the same EU grant. So do I partner with you or do I partner or do I go solo? And does collaborating affect the opportunities and are the donors goals aligned with the specific needs of people to help organizations collaborate? And I think it is important that funders appreciate the dynamics of Global South organizations and the impact of the funding and how they model those funds. in terms of the ease of access and how they can help build and strengthen civil society in the global south to actually make a strong impact, yeah.
Thank you, Victor. And I’m having a stereo here, one side Teresa and the other side Marlena, who want to both chip in on what you said. So Teresa, you start and then I’ll give word to Marlena.
Okay, thank you very much. No, I think what you raised is very, very important, Victor, because there is a problem, and I will comment a little bit on the donor experience, yes, because you’re very right, you know, that first of all, like for civil society organizations to be able to be involved in some of the policy fora, it has to be deliverable in a project, you know, because otherwise, yeah, no way how to make it work. But at the same time, among donors, there might not be kind of sufficient coordination of the priorities, you know, in this sense. So if I can also encourage donors, you know, who are interested in more meaningful participation of civil society in various policy fora, like you have probably identified already, it’s really important also to talk to other donors and to try to not overwhelm also civil society organizations with each donors coming with a specific narrow vision, you know, project perspective. It could be ultimately more impactful if this is done while I’m aware that it’s not an easy and intuitive task. Another point that I would like to elaborate on super quickly is what you, Marlena, actually raised, and that sometimes this bad habit of like tick-the-box approach of like consulting civil society. You also mentioned it actually in your intervention. It’s actually tough to consult civil society because civil society is not like, okay, I have consulted civil society. No, it’s so many various organizations with various agendas, various objectives. So it’s certainly not easy. But, on the other hand, we are sometimes sliding or experiencing this tick-the-box, like, you know, there is some pro-forma consultation that not necessarily leads to anything, but you can say that you’ve done it, yes? And yeah, let’s be honest, some policy fora are more prone to this than others. So yeah, I don’t have a solution, but just raising the voice of the civil society more and having donors that have realized and identified this issue is a strong start. Thanks.
And following up on Victor’s intervention, I wanted to bring another perspective also from a Global North organization, that the cooperation and collaboration between Global North and Global South, or majority-based orgs, isn’t only, and definitely should not take this, like, white-saviorist approach where we uplift global majority-based orgs, but also there’s a lot to learn for Global North orgs. There’s so much resistance in many countries outside the U.S. and Europe with really creative advocacy strategies, and I and my team learn constantly, and I think the global coalitions are inherently better when there are diverse perspectives as well, and it can be pretty easy to become complacent or even lazy to some extent when you live in the U.S. or Western Europe. You forget many of the fundamental issues of organizing and influencing policy makers, so that’s something to remember. And another aspect is that a lot of the international governance mechanisms, even like UNESCO recommendations for example, rarely, I will not offend UN people here, but they don’t have as much influence in the EU and U.S., however they do have a disproportionate impact on national regulation in the global majority, so for example UNESCO guidelines for digital platforms are often portrayed to be a… Digital Services Act, or DSA-esque version of the EU. There’s also the recommendations on ethical AI. The EU has its AI Act, so there’s binding regulation in the EU. The US is, bipartisan politics aside, also has its own regulation. However, a lot of the recommendations from these entities, including then like UN, UNGA, or OHCHR, really can influence, and often are weaponized to enforce problematic regulation at the national level around the world. So that’s something to consider when we have these coalitions. And then fundamentally, I mentioned before that civil society is not a monolith. The global majority is definitely not one either. It’s multiple regions. The regions themselves are not homogenous, and even in terms of languages. One individual country, India, has, I don’t even know how many languages. 60? How many?
27 official languages.
27? OK, I thought it was more than that. Official, yes. So plus the dialects, right? So differences of languages, social norms, economies, between and within countries. So that’s something to consider. And I’ll give an example, which is something that we’ve been working on with Access Now, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and a lot of other organizations, including I think Article 19, on DSA Human Rights Alliance, which is involving global majority-based orgs and the implementation of the DSA, which is the leading EU regulation on digital platforms. And what we’re trying to do with Diplo and the orgs represented here is really to bring in learnings from that experience and others into international governance of the internet.
Thank you, Marlena. We have questions in the room, so. Jovan, please start, and then the lady in the blue dress. After you, you’re going, after you.
Okay, oh, you’re next, okay. Just one, building on what Victor said, what we can call power of triviality. We very often think, discuss big system, but sometimes to navigate the UN corridors in Geneva and New York, or knock on the office, or I remember still when we had the program for the colleagues, students from the developing countries, even where you leave the jacket during the winter, or what do you do? I mean, it sounds completely trivial, but it impacts the feeling of being part of the process. And I will bring you a few examples that we have been recently focusing on. PDF is dominant format of the UN, European Union, and other actors. With PDF, you cannot do a lot if you want to interact, if you want to display it nicely. We took the European AI Act, and we were in Brussels discussing with different negotiators. If you try to consult European EU Act draft, which is now negotiated between commission, council, and parliament, you simply, you’re lost. On the very trivial level, not on knowledge of AI, but on displaying three columns, four columns, one PDF, 300 pages. What we did, we basically organized it in the simple way that you at least can read it, and then have, obviously, expertise to analyze and to have a context. The similar applies for the UN Secretary General policy briefs. If you read these policy briefs, and you can consult on Digital Watch, they’re done by designer who wanted to have nice printed publication. And this is the mindset, you can see the mindset. And said, who is going to, maybe a meeting like IGF, they will distribute, have a nice publication, as we are doing, all of us, you know. But in reality, people will consult it online. or their mobiles. Therefore, this power of triviality, which ultimately shapes people participation, is a big thing. And we plan during this project to focus on these things. And one of the elements is reporting from the IGF. You have here the paper. This session will be reported by a mix of AI and experts. You have yesterday’s sessions with main points. And why is this important for the civil society?
It is important because you simply have limited resources to navigate such a flow of information and sessions in Kyoto, but also last 18 or 19 years. And frankly, some issues, digital divide, were basically rehearsed every year. And you have the more or less similar narratives. Therefore, this is, again, one small thing. If small NGO, we had discussion two days ago from Brazil, with two or three persons, wants to know exactly what is about child protection discussed during the IGF, not necessarily AI, not necessarily other issues, they should have the access. And it’s not as easy as it looks. Therefore, we are trying with this reporting, you can consult it, to use a mix of AI, Diplo AI system, and our experts, mainly to bring to the help with the small developing countries, where our main, sort of, to bring them substantively in discussion, but also small civil society and marginalized groups. Those are a few points which I invite all of us here to reflect on this power of triviality. And there are tools. And also to create a space, I call it, AI hallucination of human hallucination, to think, I won’t go too far with the way how to hallucinate, but to create a space for a bit of alternative thinking. My criticism of. all actors, and my fault, is that we sometimes become domesticated in global fora. We basically start integrating thinking of the IGF governments, which is very human. You interact and you basically develop the thinking. And the time which we are facing, you open Al Jazeera, CNN, News, you see the world is not in the best shape. And we need alternative thinkings. And we need the creative inputs. And I think this is the role for civil society and academia, where they are not contributing. I’m sorry to say, but we are not contributing to this. Therefore, those are just a few points which influence Diplo’s approach. And we hope that, together with the partners in this project, we’ll try to do this power of triviality, making things accessible to people, and also trying to create a space where we can think a bit out of the box for the benefit of the governments, public, and the global public good.Well, should I ask some question?
No. It’s OK. We’ll have a lady in a blue dress, and then the gentleman in a blue shirt, and my wish, and four questions coming up.
Thank you for interesting thoughts from different perspective and different experiences. And I’d like to ask you about a question regarding capacity building. Since I am Emi from Japan, working at a private company giving OSINT-related service, giving more reliable information to mainly researchers, I think capacity building cannot be made one day. For example, since I’m familiar with climate change issues process. They were around the Paris Agreement, and there were a citizen assembly, citizen congress, with randomly sampled citizens without any expertise discussing the very important issue about climate change. And that didn’t really solve all the problems, but it moved forward somehow. So how would you think about such process in regarding this issue, and also the possibility or threats or limitation of such, what do you say, citizen participation in very local level? And my personal hope is to have such congress in different areas, different parts of the world, and then they can have capacity building and also participate in global level. So I’d like to know the opinions, thank you.
Any takers? It should be me on capacity building, but Peter, go first.
I’ll try, but I will pass to you afterwards for sure. Well, first of all, thanks a lot. Shall I take, I’ll respond to that and maybe give some feedback on other points. So first of all, I don’t know if this is planned or has been done, I do think it’s interesting. You make me think of, I think one of the speakers in one of the other panels recently said, I forgot her name, the Nobel laureate journalist, who said that she hadn’t done this, but she had interviewed, if I understand correctly, quite randomly, a few hundred or a few thousand people. And she said, if I correctly remember the topic, randomly, like you say, just citizens, which are not experts, right? And also have their impact. I mean, I think that’s interesting, okay, as part of the consultation process. I’m not an expert in all these consultation processes, but I think there can be space for that. I’m sure academics will have more to say about that. I do know that in the EU processes, when it comes to legislation, there are consultation processes, quite large ones, but maybe they’re not so intimate. Maybe they’re like, look, this is online and you can share your opinions. I know that on some of these consultations, we do have thousands, if not tens of thousands of inputs from society. Some of them are even indeed analyzed partially by AI because it’s not possible to read every one of them. So I think there’s some interest for that. Now, I think specifically it’s more to our partners in the CSO organizations who might give a bit more, yeah.
Yes, so it makes me think of two things. One is the capacity building. What we’re talking about is institutional capacity building. So when we talk about increasing the engagement, it is in a way we’re training people, but we are increasing the institutional capacity of civil society organization. Person may come, may go, but you need to have within the organization, the knowledge, the expertise, whether technical or policy to engage. And we have ways to do that. So I’m not gonna go into that because we’re running out of time in general. But going back on consulting regular people in the process and also Jovan’s point on basic triviality of things. I remember one example on accessibility where a blind person was able to access government’s website going through accessible government website, going to get their ID. They went through everything and they got to the end and we’re supposed to tick the boxes with the bicycles to Prove that they’re not a robot and the person is like it’s a trivial thing which can be replaced by a small technical solution But because that trivial thing is not in a forum and it’s not addressed it causes issues of accessibility on a wider scale to certain groups of people so it is two way, two way thing. Now the forum was speaking about the internet governance for a standardization for a way less open to direct engagement with the public or with individuals in the environmental sector and also in youth and Rights of youth to to their future that it that is way more open to do this and also there was a court case in Germany which established the right of youth to their future in relation to the environmental rights, so the movement there is a Little bit different. I think the burning planet might have something to do with this a little more urgency But we do have three more questions in the room and I don’t want to forget about them. So gentlemen in blue shirt Okay, and then over there
Hi, Arjun Adrian D’Souza, Legal Counsel at Software Freedom Law Center. I’m here with my colleague Just wondering So we have spoken about capacity building as well, and we are a civil society based out of New Delhi, India So India presently is at an inflection point a very opportune time also We’ve had a personal data protection act which has been enacted. It is yet to come into force And a digital India act which will regulate platforms. So the stakes are high we are Going to be dealing with 1.4 billion people who will be regulated through these provisions Just as a civil society. We’ve seen the pushback that is there in terms of engagement. So my question is is two-fold. Firstly, in terms of putting forth a consolidated front on behalf of civil societies and think tanks. Any strategies, any advice on that? And secondly, to the gentleman’s question also, any alternative points of engaging with parliamentarians and government? For the simple fact that this may be a jurisdiction-specific issue to India, but the consultation process prior to the introduction of a bill is much more fruitful than the one that usually, which comes for after that. So just wanted your views on that.
Anyone? Victor go and then I’ll go.
Yes, that’s a very interesting. We face similar situations in Kenya with consultation. I think some of the strategies that have worked for us, one is to build a relationship with the legislators. I think it’s important to have that relationship with them before you submit the view so that they know that there is this body and this is what you do. I think the second is usually to demonstrate the expertise that is being brought to the table. I know it’s usually a higher standard for civil society organizations being placed, but I think demonstrating that you actually have value to add and you bring that value will add some weight to the comments that you present. And I think the third is to work collaboratively with other civil society organizations. I think sometimes it helps when you have 20 sign-ons as opposed to one, and so identifying the common issues across the various groups is essential in as much as there could be.Variances in terms of positions at least, there should be some key things that everybody wants that or feel it is important to articulate and coless around that. Lastly to say be ready for the marathon, so you need to go to the gym and workout, so you to have your arguments and contra arguments prime, you need to be ready for the views of other stakeholders, Not everybody will agree with your Not everybody will agree with your positions just because your civil society doesn’t mean you’re always right or that your position will be taken. So it’s important to build the watches in terms of understanding the arguments or potential arguments and other scenarios that the other stakeholders could bring forth. And the other push and pull factors and drivers, what is driving this and who is driving this and understanding that local context which you probably do. And then it helps that when you get to the floor and the question is asked, you understand and you’re able to anticipate and then have a very good response to any scenario because at least you have prepared for it as opposed to just walking in and thinking that it’s gonna be a smooth ride. Most of the time, it’s not or at least from our experience. Thank you.
Peter, did you wanna reflect on that?
Yes. Well, I want to be, I should say, a bit sensitive in what I say because of course your question is to CSOs and I’m speaking in the name of commission but maybe just to say that from experience in some other countries, we have had governments in other countries including Kenya, for example, knocking on our door to discuss exactly this kind of topic and in an open spirit where we have then engaged some of our experts. for example, our Director General Justice, to go into dialogue, and they even came on a visit. And so I think if there’s a way of creating this trusted relationship and this willingness for open dialogue, then this is of course difficult for you to create this, but I mean, if that can somehow be found, the right people or the right entry, then maybe that’s helpful. One second. But here again, I want to be really careful that I don’t give any wrong message, but you might also indeed knock on the door of other organizations that you think might have the entry. And it can be a national organization or an international organization that’s locally present with an office and that might have better channels of access. And then through that way, maybe open the dialogue.
Yes, we have the last question. And while you’re going to the microphone, I’m just going to quickly reflect on the calls for common inputs by CSOs in different processes. And I would like to maybe caution and say that there needs to be a balance between one input by several organizations and basically leaving the variety of opinions and variety of perspectives behind, because you are eliminating certain aspects of that in the process. So that is something as a CSO you need to be aware of. What is it that you are not presenting in a way when you are trying to make a certain different point stronger? So that is a balance exercise, at least in our opinion. Please, go ahead.
Hi, so this is less of a question and more of a comment that speaks to kind of everything we’ve discussed here. But my name is Ariel Maguid. I work with Internews. Congratulations on your proposal. We actually also just won a very similar proposal from the Department of State working in South Asia. So I’ll be implementing that as well and would love to kind of collaborate with you guys working on bringing our civil society organizations together but also to speak to your topic. One of our parts of our activities are creating an online space where all of our civil society and human rights groups can kind of come together and work together around what they’re learning. And at the final, we have bringing them to sessions such as IGF and really being able to advocate. I had one other thought as well. But yeah, so speaking to how donors are not collaborating with each other. And so you have the EU, we have State Department, very similar projects. And obviously the work needs to be done everywhere but would be great to kind of bring together in our news into the reflection as well.
Absolutely, thank you. And I would love to talk to you in the corridor afterwards. It is our intention within this project to actually harness what is already in place and what is going on to create a wider network of CSOs and kind of build up on each other and cross pollinate whatever is in the space currently and whatever is going to be in the space in the future because we do believe beyond the project itself, that that is something we will be dedicating more and more time in the future as well. So, and with this, you can find us all individually if you wanna talk more, but I believe we can close this session if that’s okay with everybody or is there more questions?
Okay, sure, go ahead. I just wanted to share something. Just to build on what Victor and Marlena said, I come from SFLC India and like you mentioned that we have a lot of languages. I think the one problem that we face is with my legal team and my technology team, they come up with these brilliant blog posts or write-ups to share information or create awareness, but sometimes the language is so complex that the people they’re trying to make aware find it difficult. So one of the benefits of local partnerships is that when I meet other CSOs for these kind of events, I realize that all of us are facing the same issue, especially from the comms and PR team. So yeah, I just wanted to say that thank you for bringing that up, because these kind of local partnerships help bring issues to light that sometimes I think go unnoticed. So just thank you.
No, thank you. Thank you for that point, and it’s another one. OK. Yes, yes, we do. We do have, I believe, still eight minutes to go, so we can go ahead.
Perfect. I’m Camila. I’m from EDAC in Brazil. And Pavlina, you were mentioning that beyond the substantial issues on how to participate on this space, we have formal rules to interact on this space. And this is so hard. We don’t have a book on that. If we are in the UN, you have a way to interact. If you are in other spaces, you have other ways. So how can we share more information about that? You were mentioning, for example, that we can make a workshop on how to make a briefing on all these spaces. But how can we share this kind of knowledge? Thank you.
No, and you’re absolutely right about each of the processes, each of the open-ended working groups having a different way of engaging civil society. We have seen it, for example, on open-ended working group on cyber. From the first session to the second one, the temperature in the room changed, and all of a sudden civil society is not automatically. be included in the conversation. So it is a challenge from the procedural side to see where are the ways to get engaged, and that is part of what we will be doing in different fora. For example, within the standardization processes, and, Marlena, I know you do a lot of work on there, so if you feel later on chiming in on that, there are, as I mentioned, certain standardization bodies which are more open to civil society participation beyond the technical community. They do have principles in place, human rights principles and human-centric standard making processes in place. There are other ones which are not open, and there are certain ones which are just multilateral, and that is the world we live in. It would be very ideal to have one way within, for example, UN or any other body to have this is how you go ahead and do it and put your input. Another part to that is once you overcome that challenge of how you are going to participate, how are you going to put across your points, is whether those points are, as Teresa mentioned, are a tick on the box or they are taken seriously, and that is a question of building partnerships. At least in my opinion, it is a question of working in that space for a long time, knowing who does what, knowing the trends, knowing what’s coming up, where is the place to be, and which forum you need to be strategically engaged to achieve your civil society goals. Not an easy one, definitely not. Marlena, you did some work on that, so maybe some lessons learned?
I was going to bring up your last point that unfortunately there are a lot of informal networks that we see. You know many of I mean many folks in this room. I know right so that’s both a good thing and a bad thing same people on panels Generally bad that I’d say one good thing is that we do have tight networks between civil society so able to You know text each other And and have monthly meetups like they’re different. I think there’s also a lot of Coalitions, so it’s hard to know Who does what and like how to be coordinated and aligned? That’s always? Was a struggle I mean Colleague from internews mentioned that there’s a similar Initiative and we work very closely with internews or even part of the global internet freedom. I think And we didn’t even know about this right so So I think there’s definitely It’s incredibly difficult And also unfortunate because it can become a cool kids club of if you’re in it Then you have and generally to be to have these connections You already are privileged and well networked, and then it gives you an even bigger boost to actually be to have the platform right so so Yeah, I think it’s our responsibility of the orgs that are in this room to actually bring in new voices Something that I’ve been experimenting with is if I’m invited to a panel I Either decline and give my spot to someone else or I say yes under the condition that the other person comes I Didn’t do that at this panel apologies Like apologies are you’re welcome But yeah, so different. I think yeah bringing in more people But unfortunately it is informal and then like you mentioned I forgot who mentioned some of the orgs are better at inclusion than others The UN is is really real difficult. I do a lot of UN advocacy and I Don’t really understand it We have a UN advocacy officer at our organization and we’re very lucky to have So he knows a lot on the procedural side. Then he doesn’t have the substantive expertise as much. And my team is the opposite. We know AI and human rights, but don’t really know where to intervene or what, unless it’s the very specific, like everybody knows IGF, right? But the smaller ones, it’s hard to know. So, sorry, it’s not a satisfactory answer. Basically, make friends, be social, and share your contacts and your privilege.
Maybe if I can quickly just a story from earlier this morning, yes, on the kind of encouraging everybody to be more experimenting in panel compositions. I was on a panel and probably I had some calming effect on two other ladies speaking in the same panel. And they were like, this is my first time doing a panel. This is going to be a disaster. And I told them, no, first of all, it’s not going to be a disaster, but you belong on this panel much more than I do, for instance. And by the way, they did great, yes. So, don’t be afraid to experiment when you put panels together, because, yeah, it might seem easier to go with people you know or you have worked before, but actually it might get much fresher look if you get new people.
Thank you. And with this, there were three people on this panel I didn’t know so far, so only Teresa. So with this, I will invite you to get to know each other and we’ll close up. Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you.
8 Oct 2023 – 12 Oct 2023
Kyoto, Japan and Online