IGF 2019 WS #286 Why Promoting Freedoms is key to Digital Inclusion

Subtheme(s): 

Organizer 1: Masimba Biriwasha, APC

Speaker 1: Vivian Affoah, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 2: 'Gbenga Sesan, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 3: Avis MOMENI, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 4: Gandhi Emilar, Private Sector, African Group

Policy Question(s): 

How can protecting human rights and freedoms on the internet facilitate digital inclusion as a practical, policy-driven approach that addresses the digital requirements of marginalised individuals and communities?
What tools and policy frameworks exist and can be leveraged to faciliate digital inclusion?
How can digital inclusion, principally in its sense of access to infrastructure, be linked to the promotion of human rights and freedoms on the internet?
Is it possible for state actors to at once promote digital inclusion and human rights and freedoms of digitally marginalised communities?
What role do market forces and state actors have to play in fostering digital inclusion and human rights?
In what way can model policies and evidence- based research be used to advance digital inclusion and human rights?
Is it possible to discuss digital inclusion without pressuring for greater recognition of human rights and freedoms on the Internet?

Relevance to Theme: The workshop will interrogate how a civil society-led approach that led to the development of the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms can be used to as a tool to develop policies that promote digital inclusion at national, sub-regional and regional level. It will critically assess how such an approach has led to progress, where there have been challenges, what gaps might exist in the framework, and draw on lessons from other regions.

The idea for an African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms was agreed at the 2013 African Internet Governance Forum in Nairobi, Kenya and then launched at the Global IGF in Istanbul, Turkey in 2014. It builds on well-established African human rights documents including the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights of 1981, the Windhoek Declaration on Promoting an Independent and Pluralistic African Press of 1991, the African Charter on Broadcasting of 2001, the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa of 2002, and the African Platform on Access to Information Declaration of 2011.

The Declaration is intended to elaborate on the principles which are necessary to uphold human and people’s rights on the internet, and to cultivate an inclusive internet environment that can best meet Africa’s social and economic development needs and goals.

Relevance to Internet Governance: Promoting digital inclusion requires a shared approach by state actors, the private sector and civil society. Getting governments in Africa to adopt principles outlined in the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms is essential to developing a common framework of how to manage the internet that promotes digital inclusion.

The Declaration is intended to elaborate on the principles which are necessary to uphold human and people’s rights on the Internet, and to cultivate an Internet environment that can best meet Africa’s social and economic development needs and goals.

By critically reflecting on the Declaration, this workshop aims to engage in a dynamic discussion with the internet governance community on effective tools for meaningful inclusive multi-stakeholder participation to improve the internet regulation and policy-making processes and promote digital inclusion.

Format: 

Round Table - Circle - 60 Min

Description: Since its inception six years ago, the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms has provided a valuable framework in monitoring and responding to violations, network building, and policy development.

The session will focus on how the Declaration has been used as a tool to influence policy making processes that promote digital inclusion, how it has contributed to progress, where there have been challenges, what gaps might exist in the framework, and draw on lessons from other regions.
The session will bring attention the 13 principles of the Declaration and how member organizations who were part of the initial signatories have used them to generate evidence to campaign for an open and inclusive internet in Africa.

The session will also highlight how Paradigm Initiative in Nigeria led a process to draft a Digital Rights and Freedom Bill aimed at addressing human rights online and digital inclusion. Unfortunately, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari did not assent to the bill therefore derailing the process but there are numerous lessons to be drawn from the initiative.

The session will elicit the lesson learned from this policy making process initiative and how these can be applied in efforts to advance an open internet that respects human rights.

In addition, the session will also focus on the research conducted by a coalition member in Cameroon, Protege QV, on the state of the Internet in that country using the principles outlined in the Declaration. The session will highlight how the principles in the Declaration can be used by internet actors to assess the state of digital inclusion and human rights in other parts of the world.

The session will also hear from civil society engaged at the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which in 2016 passed a resolution on the right to freedom of information and expression on the internet in Africa, referencing the Declaration.

Given that digital inclusion and the enjoyment of human rights online is still very much an aspiration in many parts of the world, including Africa, the session will unpack challenges, gaps and barriers remain.

The session will also draw on lessons learned from initiatives with similar approaches that have been conducted in other regions of the world such as Brazil.

Expected Outcomes: The expected outcome of the workshop is a critical assessment of how tools like the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms can conribute to improved policy making to end digital exlcusion, and what challenges and gaps remain.

Onsite Moderator: 

Masimba Biriwasha, Civil Society, African Group

Online Moderator: 

Masimba Biriwasha, Civil Society, African Group

Rapporteur: 

Masimba Biriwasha, Civil Society, African Group

Discussion Facilitation: 

The session will feature an evidence-based 20 minute panel discussion. The panel discussion will be followed by a 30-minute participant-driven process using the Knowledge Cafè technology method. The agenda will be to introduce delegates to the 13 principles of the AFDEC and how they can use it to campaign for an open and relevant internet. Participants will be asked to define a possible common working agenda and a series of topics of work around a specific issue to be discussed, i.e.: What if the role of human rights in digital inclusion? Participants will present specific proposals and projects and that just like in a marketplace they may move to the topics and groups that they may like most. Each person who makes the proposal has to guarantee the possibility of writing an instant report with the outcomes and main issues discussed by the group.

Online Participation: 

Usage of IGF Tool

SDGs: 

GOAL 10: Reduced Inequalities
GOAL 17: Partnerships for the Goals