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IGF 2018 WS #185 Preventing Youth from Online Violent Radicalization


Panel - 90 Min

Organizer 1: Boyan Radoykov, UNESCO

Speaker 1: Chafica Haddad, Intergovernmental Organization, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 2: Lillian Nalwoga, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 3: Ross LaJeunesse, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 4: Nacira Salvan, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 5: Marc Hecker, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


In the 2015 World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS+10) Review Outcome Document, the UN General Assembly recognized that human rights and communication and information innovations will play a crucial role in determining the nature of future societies, the quality of life worldwide and the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals in 2030.

UNESCO promotes the Internet Universality concept and the R.O.A.M. principles, ensuring that Internet Governance activities are human Rights-based, Open, Accessible to all, and nurtured by Multi-stakeholder participation. The Organization’s work on Information ethics cover the ethical, legal and societal aspects of the applications of ICT and are derived from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. However, along with the benefits of a digitally connected world come the threats of misuse and abuse. Countries are already building mechanisms to protect their people against these risks, for example to ensure the safety of children on the internet and on the darknet, but clearly a lot more needs to be done to address the ethical implications of the information society.

During the first UNESCO conference 2015 in Paris on “Youth and the Internet: Fighting Radicalization and Extremism” the report “Countering Online Hate Speech” was launched. Hate speech is one of the problems overshadowing the opportunities that the Internet offers. As with freedom of expression, on- or offline, UNESCO/IFAP defends the position that the free flow of information should always be the norm. Counter-speech is generally preferable to suppression of speech. As complementary to any legal limitations enforced by a state, social responses may be considered as i) Monitoring and analysis by civil society, ii) Individuals promoting peer-to-peer counter-speech, iii) Organized action by NGOs to report cases to the authorities, iv) Campaigning for actions by Internet companies hosting the particular content, v) Empowering users through education and training about the knowledge, ethics and skills to use the right to freedom of expression on the Internet – as we call it Media and Information Literacy.

UNESCO’s framework of the Information for All Programme (IFAP) advocates for all people on the wrong side of the information divide, whether they are in developed or developing countries. Of special concern are the needs of women, youth and the elderly, as well as persons with disabilities.
IFAP seeks to promote international reflection and debate on the ethical, legal and societal challenges of the information society and promotes and widens access to information in the public domain through the organization, digitization and preservation of information. The IFAP also aims to support training, continuing education and lifelong learning in the fields of communication, information and informatics.
Besides, it promotes the use of international standards and best practices in communication, information and informatics in UNESCO's fields of competence and promotes information and knowledge networking at local, national, regional and international levels.

IFAP elaborated already in 2011 a Code of Ethics for the Information Society . One of the most challenging ethical issues is the use of cyberspace for the radicalization of young people leading to violence. This suggested panel builds on prior UNESCO/IFAP organized three major international conferences and several follow-up initiatives to counter youth radicalization on the Internet, leading to violent extremism.

UNESCO and the Government of Québec organized in Québec City, from 30th October to 1st November 2016, the international conference “Internet and the Radicalization of Youth: Preventing, Acting and Living Together’’ . It was a follow-up to the organization of the first-ever international conference on “Youth and the Internet: Fighting Radicalization and Extremism” , held in Paris, in June 2015. The Québec’s Call for Action is a recognized result of the International Conference in Canada, attended by 500 participants from 70 countries. In May 2017, the third international Conference on “Youth and Information and Communication Technologies: Preventing Violent Extremism in Cyberspace“ was organized by IFAP in cooperation with UNESCO’s Beirut Office and the Rotary Club of Beirut. On 29 May 2018 UNESCO organized a workshop on “The challenges of child protection on the darknet” at the “World Congress on Justice for Children” .

At the Quebec conference, IFAP launched a report on “Policy Options and Regulatory Mechanisms for Managing Radicalization on the Internet” . The report analyses the legal measures taken specifically against online radicalization. It also examines international treaties, European directives, and resolutions at a regional and international level in an attempt to identify grounds of a common understanding and a consensual approach to measures against online radicalization by the international community.
A further result of the Quebec conference is the new and innovative project “Prevention of Violent Extremism through Youth Empowerment in Jordan, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia” . This UNESCO project, co-funded by Canada, was launched in May 2018 and aims to create opportunities for young women and men to engage as change-makers and peacebuilders in their immediate communities and wider societies, and to promote a constructive vision of young people as leaders, addressing hate related issues.

Violent extremism is becoming a major challenge for many societies today and is threatening the security and fundamental rights of citizens all over the world. Does social media lead vulnerable individuals to resort to violence? Many people believe it does. And they respond with online censorship, surveillance and counter-speech. But what do we really know about the Internet as a cause, and what do we know about the impact of these reactions?

It is in this context that UNESCO releases the study titled Youth and violent extremism on social media. This work provides a global mapping of research (mainly during 2012-16) into the assumed roles played by social media in violent radicalization processes, especially as they affect youth and women across all the regions of the world. The study concludes that research on the subject is still at a budding stage, and it urges caution about the results and interpretations. The literature reviewed in the study provides no definitive evidence on a direct link between the specificities of social media and violent radicalization outcomes on youth. Likewise, there is no definitive evidence about the impact of counter-measures.

A major output of the study is a 16-point recommendation list for Member States, the private sector, Internet intermediaries, social media, civil society, and Internet users.It recommends for instance that those actors could consider to encourage the participation of youth in decision-making processes, deepen engagement between Member States, civil society organizations and local communities, promote Media and Information Literacy (MIL) strategies, support research on the subject, ensure professional and conflict-sensitive journalistic coverage, manage expressions of hate online without compromising rights to freedom of expression, or educate Internet users about ethical online behavior and privacy issues.

Session Content: 

The panel will focus on fighting radicalization and preventing violent extremism online. New societal, technological, human rights and ethical challenges of the DarkNet will also be discussed in the panel, particularly as it concerns child protection. The meeting provides an opportunity to discuss the challenges of cyber threats and ways to improve national strategies through innovative and global solutions based on best practices of UNESCO and its partners.

Ms. Chafica Haddad, IFAP Chair, will present the global activities and experiences of IFAP in the field of preventing youth and violent extremism on the Internet.

Mr. Marc Hecker will assess the profiles of individuals sentenced in France for cases related to jihadism, based on original judicial sources.

Ms Nacira Salvan will talk about DarkNet and the strategic and organisational aspects of cybersecurity as well as the role of women in leadership of cybersecurity.

Ms. Lillian Nalwoga from the Internet Society (ISOC) Uganda and Mr. Ross LaJeunesse from Google will focus on combatting hate speech and violent extremism online and on social media.


Each speaker will provide a presentation followed by a short question and answer session by audience members and online participants. After all four presentations the floor will be opened for discussions for participants and equally for online participants. In responding to the questions/comments the speakers will deepen their views/perspectives/expertise.

Ethical implications of the DarkNet deal with the anonymity providing cover for people in repressive regimes that need the protection of technology in order to surf the Web, access censored content and otherwise exercise their genuine right to free expression. In non-democratic countries, the presence of anonymity is the only way that people can voice contrary points of view. Thus, the alarming infiltration of Internet-savvy terrorists to the “virtual caves“ of the DarkNet should trigger an international search for a solution to combat illegal activities, but one that should not shutter anonymity networks as it will be costly to those people that genuinely benefit from these encrypted systems.

The panelists will discuss issues that impact online freedom of expression, such as safety, privacy, transparency, encryption, source protection, hate speech and digitalization in the digital age. They build on the analysis of “Countering online hate speech,” “Human rights and encryption,” and “Youth and violent extremism on social media,” which responds to the CONNECTing the Dots Outcome Document and states to counter the lack of gender sensitivity in the current debate. The discussion will also be informed by the new edition of UNESCO World Trends Report in Freedom of Expression and Media Development 2017 which offers a critical analysis of new trends in media freedom, pluralism, independence and the safety of journalists.

The panel will contribute to the way forward regarding increasing international cooperation to set a legal framework for the DarkNet. Additional legal regulation to protect privacy is needed, based on principles of the “Budapest Convention on Cybercrime” which is today the global standard on cybercrime. Promising solutions following the “Budapest” Convention on Cybercrime as a model have to be further elaborated and implemented. UNESCO/IFAP stand at the beginning of coordinated actions and multistakeholder approach at the level of member states, civil society, and private sector.


In selecting the speakers gender balance was one objective. The origin of the panelists covers the regions The Caribbean, Europe, Africa, and North America. Nevertheless, the presentation of UNESCO/IFAP offers a global perspective.

The workshop will include policy perspectives at national and international level.

Online Participation: 

During this panel we will facilitate online participation. Online attendees will have a separate queue and microphone, which will rotate equally with the mics in the room; the panel moderator will have the online participation session open, and will be in close communication with the panel’s trained online moderator, to make any adaptations necessary as they arise.

Discussion Facilitation: 

The panel will be moderated by Mr. Boyan Radoykov (UNESCO) to facilitate discussion among speakers, audience members and online participants with support of the online moderator. Of the 90 min panel 45 min are foreseen for presentations, and 45 min are dedicated to participants’ engagement. During the discussion part per round two questions/comments/contributions are taken from audience members and two from remote participants.

Contact Information

United Nations
Secretariat of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)

Villa Le Bocage
Palais des Nations,
CH-1211 Geneva 10

igf [at] un [dot] org
+41 (0) 229 173 678