IGF 2019 WS #390 ICT Solutions for Rule of Law Challenges

Organizer 1: Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Speaker 1: Siddharth de Souza, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 2: Geraldine de Bastion, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 3: Christian Resch, Government, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Policy Question(s): 

1. How can ICT effectively support efforts to strengthen the rule of law and provide access to justice for all particularly where the state is absent or weak?
2. How to ensure inclusiveness in the development of digital tools (e.g. GovTech) in such contexts?
3. How to ensure availability and accessibility particularly for women and vulnerable groups in order to reduce the digital divide in the critical area of access to justice?
4. Which challenges to internet governance result from in the use if ICT in the specific area of law and justice and how can they be met? What ethical or legal standards apply here or need to be developed?

Relevance to Theme: Digital inclusion and access to justice - which is, from the user's perspective, the most important element of the rule of law - both aim at empowering people: in the first case those with less or no access to the internet, and in the latter those who lack access to institutions. The more the two areas are interrelated, the more they reinforce each other. For example, the digital divide can lead to the exclusion of marginalized groups from state services when these are provided only in the internet. Therefore, digital tools in the area of justice field need to be developed in an inclusive manner from the outset.

Relevance to Internet Governance: The discussion only begins with an account of the growing number of diverse ICT solutions for rule of law problems. From here, it moves on to the question of what this implies for internet governance. Among others, the discussants will consider what rules or policies are needed to ensure equal access to justice and related governance services, how data misuse can be prevented, and what digital infrastructure is needed for these purposes.


Round Table - Circle - 90 Min

Description: 1. Strengthening the rule of law is a central instrument in international peacebuilding and development. SDG 16 aims to ‘provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels’. ICT play a growing role in this context. Examples include GovTech and CivicTech tools, open source provision of legal information, and online anticorruption tools. Even in active conflict situations ICT solutions are used, for example, to inform combatants about legal rules (Geneva Call’s App ‘Fighter not Killer’) or map human rights violations (‘Ushahidi’ software).
2. In order to generate useful, relevant digital tools that will fill actual gaps, a user-centred approach accompanied by demand-driven engagement is vital. Paying attention to the genuine needs of target groups prior to the conception and launch of a digital tool will in turn enhance its relevance as well as its sustainability and ownership. Potential users should be engaged at all stages, i.e. its conception, trial, implementation, adaptation, evaluation.
3. Availability and accessibility of digital tools must also be ensured in order to ensure inclusiveness. This applies particularly to women and societal groups who have less access to the internet. The introduction of ICT must not deepen the gender, age, racial, income, and educational digital divides.
4. The use of ICT in order to strengthen the rule of law poses specific challenges to internet governance. In this context, cyber and data security are essential to avoid undesired negative effects, and to gain citizens’ trust in new technologies. Cases where the leaking of information has resulted in threats or even attacks against individuals have been reported.

Expected Outcomes: The session aims to raise the mutual understanding between ICT experts, rule of law experts and policy makers, all of which will be actively involved. The outcome will also be a better understanding of possibilities to collaborate in order to jointly solve the existing, growing problems. Moreover, the session is hoped to provide more clarity about the standards and policies needed for the use of ICT in the field of rule of law. It is also designed to raise the willingness of donors, such as the German government, to invest into the intersection of ICT and the rule of law.

Discussion Facilitation: 

The roundtable will be organised by RSF Hub (Freie Universität Berlin) in collaboration with Konnektiv. Geraldine de Bastion (Konnektiv) has agreed to be onsite moderator. She will introduce the topic and ask all invited speakers to begin with an opening statement. The further discussion will be open and inclusive. Geraldine will ensure equal participation. She will also ensure that speakers and participants do not derive from the topic in order to reach the desired outcomes.

Online Participation: 

We have no specific plan but would be happy to include participants who cannot attend the session though the tool. We would need more information for this purpose.


GOAL 5: Gender Equality
GOAL 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions