The following are the outputs of the real-time captioning taken during the Fourteenth Annual Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Berlin, Germany, from 25 to 29 November 2019. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the event, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
>> HISHAM ABOULYAZED: Good afternoon, everyone. Can I have your attention for a second, please? This event is for the MENA discussion so if you're in the room for that session I invite you please to take your seats. If you are not, I also invite you if you would to make room for colleagues who are making this session. Thank you. Colleagues at the back of the room, if you would please, colleagues, if you would please take your seats, or if you want to have this discussion, as well, you are welcome to have it just at the foyer.
So I think it's time to say good afternoon, everyone. And welcome. This is the IGF Regional Dialogue on Overcoming Barriers for the Meaningful Participation for the MENA Region. My name is Hisham Aboulyazed. I'm with the NTRA of Egypt. I'm happy to welcome you here on behalf of NTRA and accompanied with our co‑organizers from RIPE NCC and ISOC. This session allow me first just to take a few minutes to outline a few ideas and thoughts on the motivation for this session, and how also we are going to organize our event.
So basically, this session will go for 3 hours, as we are supposed to close by 6:15 p.m. We are organizing our session in two segments, so there will be two panels that will be invited to take their seats in turn.
But allow me at the outset just to share a few ideas on how we actually came here today, and the motivation behind this session. When we first actually started to work on the concept for this event, it was back in March, as many of you would know, maybe this is not the first time we are having a similar discussion, but it was for us back in March it was obvious that we needed to take this opportunity and make this for a couple of ideas.
There were a number of factors actually that we thought it's worth to have a new discussion for. Mainly it was obvious that some new initiatives are taking place globally and regionally. Some new actors also are coming into play, with more elements for them and for new communities as well as in the MENA Region. Also the classical actors I would say, many of them were working hard in the last year or two to revamp their engagement strategies and to reprogram their activities as well but many of them I would say were less holistic in their approach, so we are trying to bring everyone to this discussion and try to build synergies around these common priorities I would say.
So very quickly allow me to come to the first panel. We have, we are lucky actually to have two very able Moderators. We have Christine Arida. Section 1 will be led by Christine. Christine is the Executive Director for Planning and Telecom Services at NTRA. She comes with extended experience in IG domain and ICT Policy in general. She has been engaged with IGF since 2006 and she has been a Member of MAG for many years as well.
Following that, Hanane Boujemi will lead us for the second bundle. Hanane is the Executive Director for Tech Policy Tank, a policy expert on IG in the Region and digital policies. I'm sure she'll be able to lead us to a great discussion. Segment 1 will mainly focus more on capacity‑building activities and engagement efforts by many organizations who are acting globally and also regionally.
Second part of the agenda will look more broadly at several initiatives that are addressing the Region, and some have been working at the National and Regional level so without further ado I invite Christine to take us forward, please. Thank you.
>> CHRISTINE ARIDA: Thank you, Chairman. If I can invite panelists to come to the stage. Thank you. So we have panelists for the first segment. And do we have working microphones at the table?
Thank you very much. Thank you for this introduction and it's really a pleasure actually to be here and to discuss ‑‑ I think I'm explicitly happy to see discussions about and from the MENA Region, something that we might have been missing for a couple of IGFs but I see a strong presence in this IGF, and I'm really happy about that, partially maybe and I should give due thanks right at the start to the German Government who have enabled the participation from various regions and so thank you for that. So the first panel is on Regional Engagement and Capacity Development Efforts, and I hope that together with the distinguished panel which will be right now introducing, I hope we can actually add value to existing efforts that are already happening in the Region, specifically on boosting engagement in Internet Governance from our Region, not only on a global level but also more nationally and regionally.
And the first segment is supposed to actually look at existing efforts in capacity‑building closer, so that we can all be aware of what is happening. Some of us maybe need to have more information on different efforts but also I hope we can together identify common challenges that we all face when we try to boost engagement each in his different capacity and how can we actually work together and develop solutions to overcome in a more coherent and builtup way those challenges so I have a great panel with me. I thank them all for accepting to be part of the event.
And I will right at start maybe introduce so we can then have discussion together that is vivid. And we plan to have very interactive discussion with all of you so I will stop at various points through the coming 75 minutes to hear from ‑‑ more from participants on their input, as well.
So let me just go according to my setup. I have Chafic Chaya from the RIPE NCC. Regional communication Manager for Middle East Region at RIPE NCC and he actively works with RIPE members and the larger stakeholders range on different activities and topics related to Internet Governance and capacity‑building, both nationally and also regionally.
I also have Manal Ismail, Executive Director for international technical coordination at the National Telecom Regulatory Authority of Egypt. Also the elected Chair of the Government Advisory Committee of ICANN.
I have at the very left Vladimir Radunovic. Vladimir is Director cybersecurity and e‑Diplomacy programs Director at DiploFoundation. Also a lecturer in Cybersecurity Policy, Internet Governance and e‑Diplomacy for graduate courses. Serves as Member of the Global Forum on cyberexpertise and an expert with the Geneva Internet platform.
Also have Fahd Batayneh. Fahd works for ICANN as part of the global stakeholder engagement team. He covers the Middle East and contributes to Regional and National IGFs schools on Internet Governance, and deeply involved in many different Capacity Development programs.
I have to my left Susan Teltscher. She is Head capacity and digital skills development Division and Head of ITU‑D at the BDT of the International Telecommunication Union ITU.
Last but not least, I have Adil Sulieman, a Senior Policy Officer, African Union Commission. So without further ado, let me maybe start right away with our first question today, or first point that we want to discuss, and I will maybe start by Chafic, to go first, Chafic.
The first point that I would like to tackle in this panel is how can we actually work to increase meaningful stakeholder participation from the Region in Internet Governance and digital policy discussions? So there is so much going on in Internet Governance and it's broadening, not becoming less, and we see the impact on the Region. We see that where we've been active, we're not capable to follow. We need a lot maybe of development. We need more people to be engaged and so what are the different programs that are out there? How can we actually achieve that meaningful participation through the different programs? So if you want to take the mic in front of you might be working. Chafic, the floor is yours.
>> CHAFIC CHAYA: Thank you, Christine. Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends and colleagues, thanks for being with us, and thank you for NTRA and ISOC coordinating this with the RIPE NCC. I am optimistic in my life so I will start with what we are doing and at the end I will share with you the challenges that we have in Capacity Development.
It's well known that a country's successful development depends on having sufficient capacity.
In the context of Internet, the financial resources and the technology are vital. However, without skilled and trained people, we cannot promote for a sustainable Internet development. As a Regional Internet Registry, our main function is to allocate resources to Europe, Middle East and part of Central Asia, and to keep a comprehensive record for these allocations at the same time we promise to have the capacity‑building as a prime contribution to our members and to our community.
How we do this? We have many channels and paths in doing this. We have face‑to‑face and online courses. We have a training, we have seminars. We visit countries. We have tailored solutions for each country. We deal with all stakeholders at the community, private business like ISPs, mobile operators, Governments with DRAs, with academicians, with universities and financial institutions with banks. So we covered the whole Region in the last 5 years when I joined RIPE NCC and we did really a nice job and outcomes are really was fortunate.
However, this comes with challenges. First challenge that we have I can sum up by three words, Regional. We have some countries and regions we can visit for different reasons so to deal with this challenge, we invite these countries to join us in another neighbor country or through online seminars but with this we have limitation in doing what we call hands‑on exercises.
Second thing that from my experience we can share with you is that each country has its own issues for the Internet so we need to tailor solutions to these countries that fits their needs. Doing this, we need more resources that with our organization we have limited resources to do these tailored solutions and here comes the joint effort with ISOC or with ITU‑D, with ICANN, to handle or deliver these trainings each in his expertise.
The third one which is ‑‑ which I can see it from outside the box is that when we have these experts and when we deliver this training on the ground, these people leave the country so which need to have suitable environment to keep these people in the country itself. Or not they can go out and have expert contract and work for other International Organizations so this is the main three issues that I can share with you.
Of course, some details from each country, for example sometimes we don't have the trainees, participants, so instead of having one level of people who have technical background, we have different level of technical people and we need to go slow with this, and then we have this timetable, different income, different outcome, so there are some related issues that are related to certain countries, but overall we are doing our best to delivering all what we can in our area of expertise, and we are dealing with all issues that we have. Sometimes we can do compromise. Sometimes as a neutral center of expertise, we give them the best case studies, we give them the success stories and they will choose and select the scenario that fits the country itself.
>> CHRISTINE ARIDA: Thank you, Chafic. Maybe if you very briefly before you leave the mic as well if you can because RIPE NCC has this unique I think ‑‑ I don't know if it's unique, but has a special setup of supporting the MENOG which is gathering network operators in the Division but especially your membership base is diverse so from your experience in terms of capacity‑building do you think that getting connections between the world of actual operators and governments is something we still need to work on when we tackle capacity‑building very briefly if you can also address that.
>> CHAFIC CHAYA: We know the culture in the Middle East Region is different from the European countries. In Europe the private sector meets in the country. If we don't have the green light from the Government we can't go anywhere to be frank, but I can tell that the Governments really give us a lot of help and give the resources that we need.
The question that, yes, due to certain divergence in points of view between Governments and private sector that ‑‑ the same goal by the way ‑‑ when we meet with the Governments and we meet with the private sector, both of the players, they have the same goal to develop the Internet and to work for the good of the Internet in their country, but both players they have their own perception and they have their own paths to arrive to this goal.
So yes, we are trying to be a facilitator put the Governments and the private on the same table to try to find a common ground for both of them, and we succeed in this. Now I can share with you that in the Region we have four IPv6 enabled countries. And these four countries, this collaboration between the different stakeholders make our effort and make the result that we see now that we are on the right track I say. We still have time but we're on the right track.
>> CHRISTINE ARIDA: Speaking about governments maybe I can turn to Manal Ismail. So Manal from the perspective of GAC, you participate in leading the GAC. How do you see efforts for capacity‑building or for engagement in the Region maybe different than elsewhere? What is much needed more here than elsewhere? How does the engagement look for the GAC in terms of Governments?
>> MANAL ISMAIL: Thank you, Christine. And so the GAC has 178 Member Governments and 38 intergovernmental organizations participating as observers, but yet from the 178 members, we are having very limited participation, particularly from our Region. In terms of membership, we're only missing four countries from the region, but still as I said, the active participation and the real engagement is very limited.
So I'll try to divide the challenges, some of which I believe we are already addressing well, but also other challenges we're missing.
So first of all, in terms of the topics that are being discussed, they are quite complex. The working language is English, of course, so there may be a language barrier. There may be a complexity of issues, and of course, this is in addition to the workload and other things.
The GAC has been conducting capacity‑building workshops for quite some time now as a joint initiative between the GAC underserved regions Working Group, along with ICANN teams of Government engagement and global stakeholder engagement.
So far, we had 10 workshops and we had 290 participants from the different regions speaking about our Region. We already had 3 workshops, one in Abu Dhabi and United Arab Emirates, one in Marrakesh in Morocco and one in Bahrain, a very decent one last September.
The objective of the capacity‑building workshops of course is lowering barriers to participation and encouraging active engagement of GAC members, but also to make sure their voices are being heard during the discussions in order to be taken into consideration.
We build the workshops around the needs and requirements of the different regions. As Chafic mentioned, each and every country, they have different requirements and different needs. But also we help bringing participants up to speed on specific hot topics that are being discussed within the GAC and ICANN at large.
We've also tried to put other measures in place to address other challenges, so we have realtime interpretation during the meetings in 6 UN languages plus Portuguese. We have realtime captioning and transcription. We have translation of some documents and some parts of some documents, and this one is a bit challenging because we're not getting the usage that justify the cost of translating everything in all languages, so we're still struggling with this.
ICANN provides travel support to 35 GAC members and 5 observers, and in addition to the capacity‑building workshops, we also hold a first‑timers session at the beginning of each meeting, face‑to‑face meeting. We hold webinars before the meetings, and readout sessions as well and I'm sure Fahd will also speak about this after the meetings.
And we also, we've been holding High Level Governmental meeting every other year, because the feedback we got from GAC members was that we failed to convince our managers about the importance of attending GAC meetings. So we try to do this to bring to the attention of High Level Governmental officials the work of ICANN and the GAC so that they can spare their Delegates the Authority to speak during the meetings, the resources to attend the meetings, but also to follow up the discussions online and the time to participate, as well.
There is also an ongoing dialogue within ICANN on the evolution of the multi‑stakeholder model of ICANN, and how this could facilitate the participation of those who are not deeply engaged yet. So all these are some of the efforts that are currently in place to address the weak participation.
I have to say that those may have addressed a few of the challenges, but we are still facing, for example, challenges regarding continuity of participation, so we have a very high turnover. We do the capacity‑building workshops. We do the orientation and everything, but then the Representative changes, and unfortunately, there is not a smooth hand‑over between those who are participating, so this is still a challenge.
Another challenge is the workload and the prioritization itself, and we've got also feedback from members that they fail to link the work, or the discussion we're having, with the National agendas, so this is also something we are still trying to work on and to address. So I think I may stop here, but ‑‑ yeah, I have a few suggestions but I'm not sure whether this is the right point in time, or ‑‑ .
>> CHRISTINE ARIDA: I think we can come back on them but I wanted maybe to trigger one point maybe out of your experience because I know that there was a phase when there was heavy engagement from the Region on specific topics within the ICANN GAC, like there were discussions about specific domains, so my question here is: How can we go from that experience and maybe if you'd like to reflect now and maybe later on how can the topics when they're relevant or mutual interests trigger engagement in a more snowball effect between countries of the Region?
>> MANAL ISMAIL: You're right Christine. At some point in time we got good participation from countries within the Region when there was really a hot topic that concerns the Region. And this had to do with a few new details like .Islam, .halal, .GCC and a few others. Problem is if you don't follow up the discussions and participate, you will get to miss the whole thing, so despite the fact that maybe not every single thing is equally of interest to everyone but still it's important to follow what's being discussed and at least keep an eye on anything that may be of interest or alerts the Region.
Another very good example also was the introduction of IDNs. This was also a very successful exercise in collaboration from the Region, so ‑‑ and this was one of the suggestions actually, is Regional coordination in preparation for the meetings, but also follow‑up after the meetings because this was vital in the introduction of IDNs and we all were speaking one voice.
>> CHRISTINE ARIDA: Thank you, Manal. So before maybe I turn to one round of floor I will give the floor to Vlad. So you've heard a little bit on efforts that are directed to the Region, and speaking about how to get the Region together to further engagement or to boost engagement. I think we might want to hear from you on new trends on innovative ways, thinking out of the box in terms of capacity‑building and engagement, maybe reaching out to new disciplines.
I know you had many ideas, so if you can give us an idea, and also what are the challenges that you see? You've worked with the Region. What are the challenges that you see from your perspective as maybe an outsider organization? And then how can we tackle that?
>> VLADIMIR RADUNOVIC: Thanks Christine and first of all thank you for inviting me to join this. I always feel so pleasant being in the company of all the people I know. Some folks in Diplo prepared their photo shopped version of me as Lawrence of Arabia, because they know that I like being in the Region.
But you already mapped quite some things which are important. One is that there is no single bullet. You need to adjust the approach to everyone. Then you have the new actors, the new topics. If you look at the Internet Governance 10 years ago, even 5 years ago, the topics were completely different, not different but they were not so in‑depth.
We were talking about IG. Now we're not talking about IG. We're talking about security, cybersecurity, human rights, artificial intelligence and principles and human rights, it's really much more in‑depth than 5 years ago. You have a lot of institutions, a lot of people which know much more than we used to have so the IG is changing if we wish. The geopolitics is changing. 5 years ago, who was talking about Data Protection? It was mainly the advocacy groups, mainly the NGOs, not the states, not that much. In the last five years we got the states talking about data localization, the GDPR came on and so on, talking about security.
Now we see the cybersecurity or National Security being within the trade wars even. Geopolitics is changing. There's a lot of things that are changing, and then the target group is also changing. We here, we are a big family at the IGF and we know each other, but coming to diplomats, coming to Parliamentarians, coming to people that actually make decisions, there's a challenge. It's not just in the Middle East Region. It's everywhere. Just look at the I would be keen to actually see the success of this year's campaign to bring the Parliamentarians to the IGF, and there is funding and sort of a communication. I don't know what the results are. It would be good to hear if we know but it's not easy to get the Parliamentarians who want to come here. I don't know if there are any parliamentarians here? I don't have to be cautious when I'm speaking even though it goes to transcript.
But seriously it's not easy so some of the lessons learned from what is it now almost 20 years of Diplo's work in capacity‑building in ICT and diplomacy in a way, one thing is certainly that the Capacity Development is not an event. It's not a training. It's not a course. It's a process. It really needs to be the process and we usually forget about it. We usually do the training and we say okay, that's it. People are there.
You can do the training which I think is very useful like what ICANN and ISOC does, we do it as well, back to back to IGF and ICANN meetings but that means you get the people who might at best understand what they're going to listen to in the next 2, 3, 4 days but they don't have time to actually build the opinion, and get the courage to jump on and say this is what I think about cybersecurity, this is what I think about human rights or intellectual property rights so it needs to be the process which actually our experience shows then what used to be working in a way is that you start with let's say we start with the online program which lasts for 10 weeks which is highly intensive, and mid‑level professionals get into the topic into details.
Then a couple of days ago back to back with event we bring them together to meet. Secondly they already have a strong base they understand and they have a chance to learn from the experts and exchange the opinions in sitting face‑to‑face. Then they're in the process, the immersion of the IGF and the ICANN and then they have the courage to raise their hand and if Vint Cerf is speaking, someone will say I have this opinion. Otherwise they will be shy and sit down and not do anything. That's for the mid-level professionals. For the diplomats and decision makers it's also different. They're in different shoes. Mid-level professionals might have the interest to learn about whatever the doing. Diplomats or parliamentarians, they have different goals.
Parliamentarians usually well face it they want to win the next elections. You have to be in their shoes. Diplomats like the Ministers of most of our countries, Africa, Middle East, in Geneva, New York, they have three, four people that are covering everything in health to armament and everything who cares about digital, so you have to be cautious about how do you approach them to get on the table. There is no silver bullet on that one either.
What we try to do is focus on not only on what, and I think that's the key message, when we talk about Capacity Development we usually talk about what should we tell someone? I dare say it's even more than 50% is "how," not what. How do you approach? We usually don't think about it and it needs to be normative. That means people don't read anything anymore. If you do the briefing reading it needs to be half a page, a page. A briefing for Parliamentarians now has maximum one page on cybersecurity, that's nothing but that's as much as they can read.
As much as you can you do the illustration, you do the visuals. That's something that's appealing. You do the blended approach where you combine online, you try to target them particularly High Level ones, try to target them to link the training with what's happening.
For instance there's discussion in WTO, World Trade Organization on, I don't know, e‑Commerce. You try to come up to them a couple of weeks or months before the WTO because you know they will be immersed into that, you say you need help? Oh, yes we need so try to link to what is actually their concern, right?
Of course try to put it on the level they can understand, again that's how. And when it comes to the Regional integration it's not easy. I think using, and I think Adil will talk about the project, but using the Regional approach to a more comprehensive capacity development process, not just a program, that's the key, and with the blended ‑‑ and there's one more thing. We can train the mid-level people, we can raise the awareness among the High Level people but if we don't link them vertically, if those on the top don't understand they have people on the ground, and if those on the mid-level don't know that the guys up know about them we didn't do anything. We have silos so we have to do it comprehensively.
I know it's a buzzword, it's not easy but it really needs to be about how, even more than about what and I'll stop there but you can get back to me.
>> CHRISTINE ARIDA: Thank you. Very, very interesting about all the linkages we have made. Looks to me like many dimensional linkages that are needed. So maybe let me turn to you and if someone would like to grab a mic, I don't know if we have mics. Do we have any mics in the room? If not ‑‑ yeah.
And I kindly ask you to introduce yourself and be concise so we can hear from other.
>> Thank you, Christine and thanks to your distinguished speakers. And it is all about capacity‑building and involvement but really, since last IGF.
>> CHRISTINE ARIDA: Introduce yourself.
>> Brahim from the Centre for Human Rights. Last IGF, we managed to have a meeting for MENA participants and we agreed to have consultation and preparation for this idea. Unfortunately none of that happened and now in this IGF all our problems are not addressed. Where is the consultation with Civil Society? So for that IGF Arab we don't know anything about that, whether it's Council, dead, alive, nobody is telling us anything. Now to this IGF, did we do any cooperation to address the lack of network and neutrality, the lack of freedom of cooperation on the Internet and the fact that Internet is all the time blocked in countries such as Lebanon and Iraq and other places just because people they want to communicate about peaceful protests. I mean, I believe strongly we need to address the real problems, the fact that the IBS all the time, the Internet service providers are owned by those who will not cooperate to support our people, to have freedom on the Internet. When are we going to provide Internet for the poorer of all communities? When are we going to consult the Civil Society? Just talk about these problems. These are very important.
Civil Society activists and their organizations are not enemies. We just want to have a peaceful change in our countries in which our citizens will have a role in the future that it's prosperous for everybody. Thank you, Christine.
>> CHRISTINE ARIDA: Thank you. I think the part of the panel here is actually to identify mechanisms whereby we the can do linkages to have talks or processes or venues where we can actually discuss all those points that are relevant but also your points are very important to take back when we talk about capacity‑building so we can go to Civil Society and then to Governments and then to the different stakeholders, to the industry and say here are the concerns coming from the other stakeholders group. If anyone else would like to chime in ‑‑ please.
>> Thank you, Christine. My name is Sharbine, from the United Nations Social Commission. I would like to shed light on another angle related to the participation. And the word "meaningful."
So for some people look at it at the availability or accessibility, which we have discussed accessibility to knowledge, accessibility to participation. For some others including ours, look at it from a totally different angle which is the meaningful participations should be linked to the impact of participation.
So when there is an impact of participation, then for some constituencies would look at it as meaningful so can we also have a round of discussion on how can we really ‑‑ and this is a problem related to the Regional IGFs only but the IGF model in general ‑‑ and this is something I talked with Vlad related to that and with many others: How can we start new era of impact, whatever the word is, the IGF dialogue or another dialogue into something we can measure and say look, this was a connection. This was because of the ‑‑ or this happened, the global that this happened and so on, regarding policy change, whatever the policy is, be it net neutrality or fake news or whatever.
So please can you shed light on that angle impact?
>> CHRISTINE ARIDA: Thank you very much, Iman. I believe the next segment will talk about policy development and I think it will be very relevant and I invite Hanane when she's moderating to address how impactful policy development can be and how to measure that and I think I'll look at it as a closed circuit because at the end of the day Capacity Development and engagement need actually to learn from the impact of policy development and evolve.
So I'll take one more intervention from the floor and then turn back to the panel. Okay. I'll take one and then we will have another round so please.
>> Can I go on?
>> CHRISTINE ARIDA: Yes, please, introduce yourself.
>> Thank you very much. My name is Mary Uduma. I'm from Nigeria and I'm part of the African Regional IGF but at the continental level and at the subregional level, and I think we have made a lot of progress from the day I came to the IG space.
First there was the issue of language barrier that hindered so many of the African countries. I don't know about the Middle East. I suppose it is the same from participating, participating passively and effectively participating, so now the business of IG space had always been in English. In most of the countries, we don't speak English, and English is not our first language so that's one big barrier that I have also identified.
Secondly, the question of having National IGFs, because that's the grassroots, and that's where it begins, and that's where awareness creation would be, so anything that can promote anything, we can do to promote the National IGFs being in place, then we can speak to ourselves in our local languages because in West Africa, we have the French speaking countries that are organizing their National IGFs. They're not participating effectively in IGF even in ICANN and again translation and interpretation has increased in this space and so we will see more of our people coming in participating not only passively but effectively.
So any mechanism we'll be looking at will be the one that will promote the National IGF processes in our countries. Thank you.
>> CHRISTINE ARIDA: Thank you very much. Inspiring to listen to the different challenges also from the African Region. I think there are so many synergies that can be drawn here.
So with that comment, maybe I can go to Fahd. ICANN has been a supporter of National IGFs, Regional IGFs, but also many other initiatives that I can say can be labeled as multi‑stakeholder partnerships and initiatives.
A question is: How do the challenges look? And I know there are many that are unique for the Region here, so what is from your perspective, this experience and if you can shed also light on engaging maybe Civil Society? Because this is one of the questions that came from the floor. I think there is a story to tell so Fahd the floor is yours.
>> FAHD BATAYNEH: Thank you Christine and good afternoon everybody. Pleasure being here with you. So at ICANN, we've always been supportive of Internet Governance related issues because the whole concept of Internet Governance revolves around bottom‑up multi‑stakeholder consensus‑driven mechanisms, and actually that falls at the heart of ICANN's policy development process.
Of course, there are many misconceptions around ICANN and what it does and actually that has a spill‑over effect on our role in Internet Governance. So for example many people approach us thinking we actually police the Internet, and in some better cases they presume we actually regulate the DNS industry and we have the Authority or the kill switch to put on and put off Domain Names and that's where of course they stop discussing with us about a much needed deeper role in Internet Governance.
Of course, just so that we are all on the same page, ICANN has a very limited mandate of working on the unique identifier system and if we exclude the part on IP addresses which is in the hands of the RIRs and the protocols which is in the hand of the IETF that really leaves ICANN with the Domain Name System.
As I mentioned we do support the Internet Governance discussions. We support the Internet Governance ecosystem, and of course as a result, we also support initiatives around Internet Governance whether the Forums, National, Regional, and global, or even the schools on Internet Governance, again at the same three levels. Of course, within the Middle East for example, we have had this school on Internet Governance for the MEAC Region, the Middle East and Adjoining Countries, and actually it was a request that was put in literally when ICANN's engagement strategy was developed in the Region back in 2013 so they wanted an organization to kick start this initiative, an organization that would be willing to inject sufficient funds to actually have it.
ICANN gladly took up the step, sorry, this role, and of course from day one, we worked very closely with our ISTAR partners in the Middle East, whether it be the Regional Internet Registries, RIPE NCC of course worth mentioning and of course The Internet Society.
Of course, it makes no sense to lead such initiatives at a Regional level because we're not the only player in the ecosystem. There are plenty of other players who are technical or nontechnical who are actually part of this ecosystem and actually in order to deliver top‑class five day experience under the hoodship of the school on Internet Governance, we really need everybody to be on board.
Speaking about Internet Governance Forums we have in the Region the Arab IGF and the most recent North Africa IGF, again ICANN supports these initiatives and of course just to pause here for a while, when I speak about support, it doesn't necessarily mean financial support. You also can include Human Resources, because in working on these initiatives there's a lot of manpower that is put, a lot of hours that are consumed into actually having solid agendas and having solid speaking roles and of course kind of mobilizing the community and bringing relevant people.
So, yes, as I said in the region, we have the Arab IGF, we have the North Africa IGF, which we've always supported and found to be very good platforms to actually discuss our work at ICANN, at the same time engage with the wider community and probably niches of community where you would not probably engage elsewhere and I'd like to emphasize on Civil Society, our dear friend actually mentioned about Civil Society so in some parts of our Region, in some parts of the Middle East the term Civil Society is misunderstood, maybe intentionally, maybe not, but it's in some countries it's really a taboo term, and so even Civil Society activists many of them tend to shy away from actually showing themselves as Civil Society people.
Of course, over the course of the past 6 or 7 years, since the start of the Arab IGF and the School on Internet Governance and then we started seeing more National IGFs, National schools on Internet Governance and of course the most recent North Africa IGF, I think there's still a lot to work on. We find that many of the attendees are actually have the very basic knowledge of understanding how the Internet functions and what the Internet ‑‑ I mean, the way in which the Internet functions. It's actually ironic, I engage a lot with Academia and academic students and one of the few questions that I ask on regular basis is: Who runs the Internet? Do you really think that the Internet is a spying device by the FBI or the CIA?
And actually just doesn't strike the minds of many people how really the Internet functions. Yes, people can surveil the Internet, people can monitor the Internet but it really depends more or less on policies that are put in place, and then definitely this whole notion of the CIA and the FBI thrown into the frame doesn't make that much sense.
Of course, just to wrap up, I think there is a lot that still needs to be done within the MENA Region, a lot of capacities need to be developed. Then trying to integrate our work into curriculum, not necessarily under the term Internet Governance, but under any other term, is very vital and very important for our communities to actually understand how this technology works, what's the benefits of this technology, and of course how best to embrace it to actually push our digital economy agendas forward.
>> CHRISTINE ARIDA: Thank you, Fahd. Speaking of efforts of collaboration, I think we need to look at also ways of how to integrate efforts in this Region, how we can actually ‑‑ we have different silos, it was mentioned, we have many efforts from different organizations. We've heard from so many but how can we actually work collectively? I think this is one of the challenges that we may have, and I know the ITU‑D has recently come with new developments, Capacity Development programs, and just recently many of us have participated to a program that has been in Bahrain, and to me, having been there in Bahrain, it was striking that there was a lot of collaboration between different stakeholders that don't usually or different parties that haven't classically been coming together. In this Region they haven't been coming together. The other striking fact was that we had a new community that is not classical to the IG that was present there, and that was in addition because we were reaching out to new communities.
So Susan, maybe you can tell us a bit more about collaboration in that effort, and how do you foresee from the experience of Bahrain how to build upon that and actually have more of that coming.
>> SUSAN TELTSCHER: Thank you. Thank you very much, Christine. Thank you, Hisham. He's left but thank you for the organizers for inviting me and inviting ITU to be part of this panel. I wanted to say a few words. I'm here in my capacity as Head of Capacity and Digital Skills Development in ITU, but I'm also acting Head of Statistics, and I worked in that field for many years in the ITU and I wanted to say something at the beginning that links those two topics in terms of the need to build capacities more generally, because ‑‑ and I think it's quite important to keep that in mind.
You may know that just recently, we released new data on Internet usage in 2019, so we are now at the level of about 58% of global Internet usage, so keeping in mind that we still have a big portion of the population that is actually not even online. We also found that the gender Internet user gap has grown significantly over the past 6 years. And that's another concern we also have to keep in mind.
And that gap is especially large in the Least Developed Countries, in the poorer countries, but in this Region, it's also quite large, so we also need to keep that in mind, and my point I wanted to make the bridge to Capacity Development is that we do have a very good network coverage overall right now because we are also tracking the population that lives somewhere where they have access to a service, a mobile service, so more than 95% of the population live somewhere where they have access to 3G service.
So what I'm getting at is one of the main reasons for why people are not using the Internet is not necessarily because of the lack of access to the service, but if you ask them, a lot is around capacity and skills. That's one of the key barriers apart from affordability, content, we know all that but the lack of capacity and knowledge about Internet and skills on usage for their benefits is one of the main reasons for why ‑‑ that we have now to address in the future in order to get more people online.
So this is why it's so important to talk about Capacity Development and let me now come back to this particular issue of Internet Governance. So we were asked by our membership in our last World Telecommunication Development Conference in 2017 to specifically look into building capacities on Internet Governance for our membership.
Okay, so we do a lot of training on all sorts of topics but they're usually very specific. Internet Governance is not specific, and as you can see here at the Forum, and we have seen the evolution of the Internet Governance Forum over the years. The topics that are being dealt with are very wide and very complex and they reach into many, many different aspects, because governance aspects are related to so many topics we are discussing related to Internet.
So when we then said how are we going to do this and how can it actually be done in a meaningful way?
So first we looked around what is actually already done and we engaged with Diplo at that stage to do stock‑taking and a mapping of who is doing what on Capacity Development and Internet Governance, and there are so many stakeholders out there, all of us being here. There is the academic institutions, there's the tech community, there's the Civil Society, there are all the International Organizations, so everybody is involved to some extent in that field and what should ITU be doing here?
So we were looking, we were taking stock. There were also recommendations made in this report that we commissioned, and we are trying to address specifically our membership, which means our policymakers, our administrations, regulatory authorities, because that's a very specific target group that we work with in ITU, and we are trying to get them more involved into the debates on Internet Governance.
But ‑‑ and I would like to share with you three main points that we have, how we have approached it, and what we found at least for now useful but we are looking to developing this further.
One is the topic to be addressed in the Capacity Development in this field, so we have started and also because we worked with Diplo at the beginning to look at the basket approach that Diplo already has which covers many different topics and we have used that as a basis also in our Internet Governance capacity‑building workshops so we look at different topics ranging from infrastructure to cybersecurity to Data Protection to digital economy, to of course the Domain Names. We are looking at these different topics because they all have governance aspects and that needs to be clearly communicated.
However, at the same time, each Region has a different set of priorities, and in the last Workshop, because we decided to embark on a series of Regional workshops on this, in the last one which Christine referred to in Bahrain, also then started out with asking people, so what do you think are the Regional priorities here in your Region?
And then later on, when we ‑‑ during the Workshop when we put people into the breakout groups they also had to work on issue prioritization for the particular Region so while we need to look at being comprehensive, we also need to look at what are the priorities in the particular Region.
And then the second point is on the multi‑stakeholder approach, so okay, you will say, so what's new about that? That's what we are all doing here, but in terms of capacity‑building in our viewpoint in ITU it's a different approach than what we've done in traditional training where usually we hire experts who are experts from Academia or others who are knowledgeable on one certain subject and then they deliver the training.
This is obviously not the case with Internet Governance, because every different stakeholder group has a different role to play in the Internet Governance process. So it became clear very early on, we need and we want to work with other partners on this, so that we get the diverse view and also the expertise from every partner that is involved in the particular subject area.
So this is why we have partnered in our last Workshop in Bahrain. We had Diplo, we had RIPE NCC, we had ISOC, we had ICANN, we had, who did I forget?
ISOC, I think I mentioned, yeah, so they were all there, and others ‑‑ everybody who is now also on this panel and also in the subsequent panel and it's quite important because of the different subject matters that are being dealt with, so that's another different approach that we are taking in this particular work on capacity‑building on Internet Governance and then the third element is how we are delivering the training.
So we have experimented to do it in a way where we have a mix of presentations to have some knowledge transfer but then we have a lot of engagement of the participants through breakout groups, through role play, through simulation exercises where they can actually try to do some real‑life practices in terms of discussing and even negotiating in different groups, and also taking different perspectives.
So the policymakers will have to take perhaps the ‑‑ defend interests of the Civil Society so that forces them to look at things from a different perspective and this is also something that actually participants like this most about this kind of delivery of training, so that's something that could be also looked at more in the future.
>> CHRISTINE ARIDA: Thank you very much, Susan. So maybe I can turn to Adil. Adil, now speaking about different initiatives and about collaboration, the African Union has the PREDA niche initiative or PREDA project. And since the north African vision part of the MENA Region is obviously an area when we have many colleagues also from the north African Region and the north African IGF present, maybe it also needs a lot of work in terms of engagement. I'd like to hear your experience as African Union in that and also what you think, how can we actually connect dots between the different initiatives in light of the PREDA project? And maybe reach out beyond the Region? Because I know you have many collaborations with Europe in that.
>> ADIL SULIEMAN: Thank you, Christine. I think PREDA, policy integration initiative for digital Africa so it's an I, not an E.
I like the questions that were asked by the way in the beginning and this goes to the heart of the issue. In the African Union, we looked at why African are not participating in the global debate, actively participating as you mentioned? And we tried to answer this question and in collaboration with the European Union, we came up with this policy and regulation for Digital Africa, which has several tracks, but one of which is the IGF track, Internet Governance track, and I think we need not focus on the mechanics like having the IGF and so forth, but we have to look at the impact. We need to create value, not only to those who are attending the Forum but those who are not lucky enough to be in the Forums, whether it's at a National level, Regional level or the global level.
So PREDA I think tomorrow at noon will have a session where we're going to talk more about the PREDA initiative but basically, we are trying to address the question of creating value and impact, and having active Africa participation in the global debate, so PREDA has two streams, right? Particularly when we talk about IG.
Number one, we wanted to make sure that we strengthen and enable processes at National, subregional and Regional level. This is number one.
Number two is to build capacity, build capacity also National, Regional, and continental level, as well. So in terms of strengthening the processes, first of all, there are countries who don't have IG processes. We wanted to make sure that all 55 African countries will have processes in place, and there was a discussion about the policy development process. We need to make sure that these are enabled, so that they can of course they are free to develop their own National policy on Internet public, public Internet policy. Just make sure that we create the enabling environment for them.
They have the structures, the processes. Actually in fact we develop a toolkit under PREDA project which will enable countries and regions to be able to develop their National IGF or Regional IGF, and it's a very detailed toolkit. It has all the questions that have been asked around IG and IGFs are answered in the tool kits and where you can find resources and who are the stakeholders and how to get them engaged in the process and so forth.
We are also helping the regions to make sure that they have Regional IGF and Regional schools. In fact, we did that for the Western African Region ECOWAS, they did their IGF and schools back in July. We helped the East Africa community. We are next month we'll also do for the center of Africa and in fact we're doing something for North Africa, not the Regional IGF but the school on IGF, we are contemplating on having the school, in Mauritania because it's an underserved Region in the country.
So on the capacity‑building, we had ‑‑ we hired African expert who were able to develop content, modules. We have modules and we had back in May, we did a train the trainer program where we brought 70 African experts from all the regions, and by the way they're not only Government, they're from Civil Society, business, Academia. It's a mixed bag. We brought them to Addis Ababa. We trained them on IG and they are our ambassadors in the regions and we call them our trainers. Whenever there is an event at the National or Regional level, we ask them and support them to go and train at the National level and the Regional level, as well.
So under ‑‑ PREDA I think we wanted to be able to answer the questions and create value for the community at different level.
Furthermore on the capacity‑building, we are collaborating with DiploFoundation. In fact, the content that we developed, we wanted Diplo to fine‑tune it and make sure it's also good for online consumption, and we also want to develop specific content for diplomats, with the help of DiploFoundation.
Moreover, we want to make sure that whatever we are doing is sustainable, so that's why we also, Diplo is helping us with a study on the sustainability of training, whether it be using the school, the model we use today. Every time we have an IGF at the National, Regional, continental level, it's preceded by a school on Internet Governance, so is that going to be the platform that is going to be sustainable? Or there's going to be some other ways of capacity stakeholder within the Member States so Diplo is helping us also on this front.
I think I'll stop at that and then maybe there's follow‑up questions.
>> CHRISTINE ARIDA: Thank you very much, I think I still have, like, 5 or 7 minutes, 10 minutes, to hear from again from the floor. So there were comments at the back. Again, please introduce yourself.
>> Good afternoon. UN retiree. I have several of my colleagues here. Hello, I greet you. I am at the other side of the table now. I'm happy to see all of you here. I am now working at the African Internet Governance Forum as the Secretary and the West African Governance Forum as the Chair of the scientific Committee so I'm still in the business.
I was not here when we started, but I would like to pay tribute to our colleague Tarek Kamel, who passed away, who was a very big asset on IG and ICT for development issues on the African Continent.
After that, I've heard what you have said. You have all spoken on valuable issues, and you have defended your position. One thing I would like really to stress is the need for collaboration between the MENA and the African Region.
Because some of the countries in the MENA are part of the African Region and they are full members and active members of the African IGF, but we hear about MENA only when we have the global IGF. I think it's useful to correct that and we should find ways and means on working together to our programs and working smoothly from a Continent to another Continent. Thank you.
>> CHRISTINE ARIDA: Thank you very much, and very inspiring comments and thank you for the tribute.
I also invite you if you have any questions to actually address them, comments or questions, please, are most welcome, please.
>> Hello. My name is Ibar. I'm from Syria. I'm just ‑‑ I think that I want to add my voice to Christine when she talked about the convergence, the recent convergence between ITU and ITU‑D specifically on the other actors in the field of Internet Governance when it comes to capacity‑building. I think we need to stress the fact that ITU is historically respected organization amongst Arab countries in general, and the Arab Group is very well represented there and very actively participating.
And the issue of Internet Governance issues are quite controversial in several aspects, and even if you are telling the right thing, you can be mistrusted at one moment because of perceptions, even when because in several cases, what is being said is not the most important, but who is saying it, so probably the role of the ITU could be, and the ITU‑D specifically again, could be very welcome in trying to provide a more credible and more respected point of view amongst all these countries who are more keen on listening to them than what could happen if this message is delivered by someone else. Even if it's true, I'm not debating this.
And the more initiatives in this field are more than welcome, and I think that, well, given that this is about capacity‑building, it's not easy to come with a neutral content on Internet Governance, because it's a very controversial issue. A lot of controversial issues especially if you talk about the old concepts about critical resources and things like that. Now with the new issues in Internet Governance are less controversial but the controversy is still there. So it's let me say thanks to the ITU for what it has done, and we hope that it will always be there. Thank you.
>> CHRISTINE ARIDA: Thank you, Ibar. Any reflections maybe from the panel? Does someone want to take the mic? Or do we have more from the floor?
>> ADIL SULIEMAN: I just want to talk about the engagement by the North Africa Region within the PREDA context. We have good engagement with the Region. In fact, we had before we came here we had a consultation Workshop in Addis Ababa where we presented PREDA IG implementation strategy, and I think it's one of the regions who actually stood up and they told us they would like to engage more and kind of form a Working Group around the strategy. I'd be glad to share the strategy with you if you indulge us.
They want to have more engagement having a Working Group to make sure that the specificity of the north African Union is taken into account when it comes to the implementation of the IG strategy for Africa and PREDA. We welcome that and this was very notable in the meeting where I think we had very good resources in the North Africa Region. I think we need to utilize these resources to make sure that we are not going to subscribe to one size fits all. We wanted to make sure that we address the specificities of the Region individually and so the Region would be able to tell us what are the priorities and what needs to be addressed from the Regional perspective.
>> CHRISTINE ARIDA: Okay. Yeah.
>> SUSAN TELTSCHER: Thank you, thank you very much. And I wanted to make a comment on the two interventions. Maybe first Makahn, and I'm happy to see you. We have seen each other a lot throughout our careers, so it's nice to see you back in different functions.
We are actually experimenting also with having joined workshops across regions. We have done it on other topics and I will ‑‑ I think you make a very valid point. I will also relay this to my colleagues in the respective Regional Offices to see if in the future we could have something, if that is a wish to have some joined cross‑regional Capacity Development workshops.
We have trialed this on other topics and it was quite successful. Thank you very much for your comments concerning ITU. In fact, I didn't mention that but that was also one of our approaches when we started to develop these Capacity Development programs on Internet Governance, trying to have offer a neutral platform, maybe you say it's not possible, but ‑‑ or maybe not easy but put it differently, we wanted to bring in diverse views at least to not have just one view, so this is also the idea of bringing in partners who work on ‑‑ who have different angles and different perspectives, so that the policymakers get exposed to all of them and not just one, so this is also why we are emphasizing the importance of working with other partners in the delivery of the Workshop precisely to bring in the diverse perspectives.
>> CHRISTINE ARIDA: Thank you. You can pass to Manal.
>> MANAL ISMAIL: Yes, very quickly, just a few Tweets, so I think maybe in terms of capacity‑building maybe we can take it a step forward and think about institutional capacity‑building. I think it's important to have this institutionalized somehow within the Region. This would help building the right teams in place. I don't think relying on one person who took the capacity‑building is enough to follow up the very broad spectrum of topics that are being discussed like Vlad mentioned so we need a variety of skills, a variety of calibers, a variety of backgrounds that would definitely not be available in one person, but in a cohesive team. This team could be built across the Region by the way and across Africa and the Middle East, of course. But I think it's time to do this institutionalization, and also not only building the teams, but also building the appropriate channels at the National level, reaching out to other relevant parts of the community.
We're talking about Data Protection, about GDPR, at the same time about human rights and technical issues so it's very difficult to have just one person carrying all this over.
And should we manage to do this, we will then have a good succession, a good hand‑over, so again when this specific person leaves, or gets promoted, or whatever, then we don't witness a drop.
So again, this is more of food for thought. I fully agree with Iman on the impact and the importance of the impact. I would caution immediate impact versus long‑term impact because sometimes you need to continuously engage until you reach the impact and I'll stop here. I know we're running out of time.
>> CHRISTINE ARIDA: Just quick reactions from Vlad, Chafic and Fahd if you want to.
>> Just two comments. One comments, first yes I agree with Vlad on the silos. This is another issue we're facing when we do this capacity‑building. When we do this capacity‑building, the level people or technicians or technical managers and we want to deliver the message to decision makers. We have them here, because culturally these people can't go up and talk freely to their managers so we need to go up to the managers and talk with them that we did this and this, they say okay we'll talk to these people and there's no follow‑up.
And second, you talk about the MENOG, Christine. It's a very interesting and I think platform to use it. Why we don't use MENOG for all these Internet Governance issues? Because MENOG is there. We have two parallel, two paths, we have the training, we do capacity‑building for three days and we have Conference for two days where we deliver and share the knowledge regarding technical and regulation.
So let's try to have this platform which is neutral, which is very successful. Next year it will be in Bahrain in March, I believe. Let's try to use it. It's there. We can build on our expertise that we have to have some kind of institution, but let not us try to start from scratch. We have the base this institution.
>> CHRISTINE ARIDA: Thank you.
>> On the cross‑regional cooperation, and I again emphasize the possibilities of the online, so walking the talk. Usually disregard particularly Middle East as well, is the culture of meeting face‑to‑face, discussing but online training programs and I'm not just talking about Diplo's online course which is interactive. There are various ways. Online briefings, online webinars. It's much less costly. It can be much more in‑depth sometimes than meeting face‑to‑face. Of course it has to go blended. It's one thing to always think about the online opportunities are great.
And the second point is on the cross‑stakeholder if you wish. The new topics that are on the agenda. We shouldn't stick to the things which we have been discussing the last 10 years. I mentioned artificial intelligence. It is a highly controversy topic. Take a look at embedding the ethics or principles into AI. The ethics and principles in Middle East, in Asia, in Europe, in U.S. are completely different. Embedding it into AI which will become a global thing is a matter of geopolitics. These things are not only very important to discuss already but they're very sexy might I say to the politicians, diplomats because AI, I want to be an expert and talk about it. Try to embed these new topics. Talk about AI from different perspectives, from economic, security perspectives, human rights perspectives, humanism. We have this session tomorrow on humanism and AI so knees are the approaches.
Just a quick comment on what Fahd mentioned at the end when we're packaging that we used to be packaging it as IG. We don't have to do that. It can be IG or digital policy, data governance, data cooperation, name it the way you want. As long as we stick to that whether that is diplomatic, just pack it differently so it appeals to the target group you want.
>> CHRISTINE ARIDA: Thank you, very quickly and we need to close this segment.
>> Very quickly. In the beginning I didn't talk about PREDA. I wanted to give you a little perspective and overview of PREDA. It has three tracks, one to do with spectrum and the second one harmonization of ICT Policy and regulation, and the last is to do with IG.
So these are the overall. Part of PREDA also we are building a digital platform where we have rooms where people can exchange ideas, and I think the objective is to be able to have a Common Position, like before you go to these kind of meetings then somebody will throw a document, right? And then the document is going to be deliberated among the stakeholders that are in the room.
And then eventually it's going to come up a position on that document and then now we don't talk about many people attending, maybe one person can attend the meeting and then reflect the position that reads in this room and there's also another room that is going to be for policymaker at the Government level where if they don't want the information to be shared with others they can have one on one interaction and this is specifically before you go to bilateral, multilateral discussion. If you're not sure about what to do, what kind of issues, then the person will get advice from the expert on the possible positions and the position they can take to this bilateral and multilateral meetings so they can be coached before they go to the meetings. We'll have more discussion about PREDA protection in our session. African Union open Forum.
>> CHRISTINE ARIDA: Fahd, do you have anything? You're okay. So please join me in thanking the panelists and it was a very interesting discussion. Thank you very much.
[ Applause ]
Over to you, Hisham.
>> HISHAM ABOULYAZED: Thank you, Christine. Thank you, everyone on the panel. Thank you for our audience. We are not finished yet.
So we are coming to the actually the more interesting and the more bold segment of this event. Segment 2 of this event will look at initiatives in the Region, part of it is National, part of it is Regional.
We will have Hanane Boujemi leading us. So we can, if you wish, we can have a few minutes just in the room, just to state yourself for the time for our speakers to get to their seats, but please keep in the room. And if you would, those in the room, if you want to take your seats, as well.
[ Brief break ]
>> HANANE BOUJEMI: Hi. Gentlemen, ladies? Okay, I'm just ‑‑ excuse me Hisham? I would like to call the next panelists to come to the podium. Hi.
Whenever oh I think I'm going to take the stage and.
I think we're just missing Ayman. We'd like to maybe settle down. First of all, thank you all for staying in the room and putting up with us. I hope the second segment of this interesting meeting will be as active and interactive so thank you Hisham and NTRA with the support of ISOC to invite me for this event and I think the first part was really very important discussion. We will build on it. There was a lot of talk already about digital policy, so we'll go a bit deeper here. We have an excellent panel, gender balanced and everything which is good news.
My name is Hanane Boujemi. I'm the Executive Director of Tech Policy Tank. It's a newly established consultancy helping Governments, companies and different actors with their digital strategy working mainly on legal and policy analysis, and strategic advice.
I have other roles namely Vice‑Chair of the IGF. I set up the north African IGF and I work in different capacities with different organizations, you probably know, with DiploFoundation. I recently joined the PREDA program as an expert so I'm helping them with the implementation since I also specialized in implementing large scale programs specific to IG.
So today, I think the focus of this session will be mainly on digital policies, the challenges that we face in the Region. Are we instrumental really in influencing policy in our local context, regionally and globally? So the first session was more about engagement, about the different stakeholders that are doing a lot of work in this field already for quite some, work which is led by excellent colleagues for a long time. I really know them doing a lot of work to make things happen in general, and even though we still lack influence from the Middle East in the global context which is really, really challenging because the lack of capacity, the knowledge gap, and the priorities, so we know that digital policy or Internet Governance specifically does not feature high on the agenda of Governments from our Region for many, many, many, many reasons.
Having said that, there is still work that is being done. We're not going to wait for things to be 100% okay for us to be this work because there's a large group of people from the Region who are already doing great work and we should just build on that, support that and carry on, so without further ado, I think it would be good, I know everybody on the panel very well but I would like to give them the space to also introduce themselves, I have Zeina. Sasha from UNESCO, I have a veteran of IG. He plays a big role in many processes, Tijani from Tunis. The Division of ( ? ). We have a representative from Kuwait. He was the first convenor of the IGF in Kuwait in 2012. He's AMAC Chair. He was previously MAG on the global IGF, many, many roles we have Nadira Al‑Araj from Palestine, a Civil Society activist and quite prominent in different forums, mainly ISOC and ICANN and she's very active in the Asia Pacific Region but also many regions. We have Jane Coffin Senior VP Advisor to the CEO of Internet Society.
They all bring a lot of experience. They have concrete on the ground experience on how to develop digital policy in our Region so maybe to start with Jane, because she's got this kind of zoom‑out scope. She works globally but she's very familiar with the context of the Middle East and if you may just shed some light of your experience in developing digital policy in the context of the Middle East and the role of ISOC specifically in doing so and if you would like, you can be more specific talking about the work you're doing on community networks because access is still one of the key issues that we actually have in the Regional context so Jane.
>> JANE COFFIN: Hello, and thank you for being here. I work at The Internet Society, and focus on infrastructure and connectivity, and I will give you a quick overview of some great work we're doing in the Region and I would be remiss if I did not recognize Nermine from Egypt, the Regional Vice President for The Internet Society, and I sent her a quick note earlier and I said make sure I get all the points in you want me to get in.
We have two studies that we're working on right now from this High Level perspective. One is the enabling environment for policy for infrastructure, and there will be a separate focus also on Internet exchange points. IXPs are localized version of the Internet in a country. When you have them you have cheaper, better, faster Internet. We help build those around the world and our team that's done work in Subsaharan and Northern Africa and around the world has been responsible with partners of course we don't do anything alone for putting in more IXPs than anyone I know as far as the nonprofit and for profit side of the house so that enabling environment report will be out in January. We're conducting a public ask right now for comments on that report.
The second report we're working on is one on security in the Region, more on infrastructure security so more of the cybersecurity perspective, so there's another call out right now for comments from colleagues so please take note if you're on any of our mailing lists and our Chapter lists, we do try and reach out to our community to get feedback. That is often complicated when you have a report of that size and nature but again two things, the enabling environment in general with Internet exchange points and infrastructure there, and cybersecurity/security for infrastructure and as you've said, Hanane, some of what we do is take a look at that global level, then dive down into the Regional and right now some of the other Regional work that we're doing and I will make a nod to the panel before that spoke about the importance of different political changes in the Region, but also the work we're doing with Government.
This is a shift change for us on the nonprofit side. Recently I was in Riyadh at the end of July, beginning of August. We've done more work with the Region and the Government there than in a long time, and this is on the enabling environment and it was at the request of the Ministry and the regulator in Saudi to work with and we really appreciated the great collaboration and we're doing Internet exchange point development work with them there as well and actually a team is going tomorrow.
So we've had three different meetings in the last I'd say 3 or 4 months. We've been in Bahrain, Jordan, Oman, as well so there's more and more work that will be done bun on this Internet exchange point side which is that localized Internet development. Content will of course come into the question. There's always this other issue of security which is coming through, how to secure information and how to continue to build up that infrastructure.
Now, this also goes into someone had mentioned earlier the ITU. We work closely with the Development Sector and I'm a vice Rapporteur in one of the Study Groups and it's important we do more and more work, together collaboratively and we were on a panel at WSIS in March and we had UNCTAD, WTO, The Internet Society, APC, so we had Civil Society, UN organizations talking about the importance of collaborative policymaking, collaborative infrastructure work together and I think this is where we're seeing more and more of a happy break down versus a siloing of we should do this and someone else should do that. So this is top of mind for us to try to see where we can work collaboratively. Sometimes people will say that's just a small thing you're doing. It's not small when you're working with ICANN and ISOC and the team at RIPE NCC and any of you where we go in together. Someone had said, oh, you go in and you tell, and we do not tell.
We go in and listen. It is very important that to us that we're asked to come in to work as a partner, but also we don't know all the countries that well. We know a lot about the Region, but when we go in, we go in with local people and part of the key thing we try and do is what I call local‑local, local training for local people for sustainability. I used to work on big aid projects years ago in the former Soviet Republics and you can come in for years and do work on certain projects but if you're not collaborating across organizations you might as well have I said throw the money out of the window of the plane as you flew over the country. Because if you're competing as organizations in a Region it's much less effective so I've been doing this a long time and I believe that some of this very strategic focused work is far more sustainable and scalable and this goes to community networks as well.
These are small localized networks. They are not illegal. We had this long debate with some people recently who said gosh, these are small networks that are coming in at a local level, local people are helping design them. These are ways to connect the unconnected. We're trying to look at ways to change the old policy regulatory models not to overturn spectrum policy overnight. Do not worry. You're in the room I've had a lot of experience in this area and people have said, gosh, Jane.
And I said nothing's changed. If we've been doing this for 20 years and people are still unconnected, we have a problem. We have got to do something. So instead of calling those people who are unconnected at the last mile, let's call them the first mail. Connecting from the local ‑‑ mile, connecting from the local instance out, working with people to train them how to build those networks and how to train each other for sustainability so this is a critical factor of what we've been doing. You have to take care when you're working at the local level and we work closely with Governments to make sure they don't think we're doing something that is inappropriate to their rules.
But we do want to see if we can change the way people think about licensing and small networks.
>> HANANE BOUJEMI: Thank you, Jane. The example you brought up is very important to highlight the level of collaboration among the technical community and how you decided to all work together to channel your efforts, because the objective is one, is to help all these countries improve at the level of policy implementation, and I think that is a very good asset for the Region.
You just have to work out obviously the cultural difference and how each country in the Middle East and North Africa is quite distinct in the way it does things which makes your job a little bit more tricky and I know that you all have a great team of people who are very, very experienced in dealing with Governments in our Region.
So I will kind of ask you straight away, what are the challenges, apart from the cultural diversity, before I move on to somebody else, what are the nitty gritty of what you do? And how do you kind of tackle it? So you're not very familiar you said with how things are done, and you get the support from other people but what are the challenges? And how do you tackle them?
>> JANE COFFIN: I think the challenge often for non‑profits is that we're a very technical neutral group. We have people who are very experienced from many years but we come in with that technical trust. Often it's hard for Governments to believe that we're, I don't want to say ‑‑ I would like to say an equal partner so it's taken some time and we participate in a lot of those UN meetings as well at the ITU in order to talk to Government about the importance of working with us because we're not there to ‑‑ we're not just going to jump in country and jump back out. We've watched people do that and that's not something we believe in. We think you're in a longer haul. It's a three to four to five‑year process. It depends on the country as you've said but also some Governments are afraid to change the rules so if you can show them that the older rules are not working to connect people with the new Internet Infrastructure and the way content is being delivered, then that actually is something when you show them the models that work in other places in the Region, then they start to see that they can create that sort of newer way of working.
>> HANANE BOUJEMI: Thank you, Jane. I confirm that having a vision more or less than actually short on plan, is more valuable and it generates more results when you're working in the context of the Middle East, and maybe this is a good opportunity for me to turn to Sasha, because she's working on a very important project that was launched recently by UNESCO, the Internet Universality Indicators, and you mentioned briefly to me before the meeting that you actually apply them to two countries in the Middle East, and you may shed light more on that experience. And I know that you just basically launched them and you're still deliberating on these indicators so you might bring us to the picture on what's going on on that front.
>> SASHA RUBEL: Thank you very much. Very glad to be here today and also on a panel with many of our very close partners including The Internet Society that have been central part in the work we've been doing in looking at the development of our Internet Universality framework and Internet Universality Indicators to very briefly to highlight what the indicators and the concept that's guiding this work is. We work as many of you in the room are very familiar with all around the world and we have several field offices on the ground working closely not only with Government counterparts but also with counterparts from Civil Society and from the technical community to look at how to ensure that the Internet is harnessed to meet the Sustainable Development Goals.
So in 2015, our Member States at our general Conference adopted what we call the Internet universality framework and this framework is guiding our work on Internet but also more broadly on our work on digital transformation, including right now our work on artificial intelligence and the ethical dimension specifically on artificial intelligence. What is the internet universality framework? This underlines that in order for the Internet to be harnessed to contribute to Sustainable Development it might be right‑spaced so all rights that exist offline exist in the online environment. It must be open, it must be accessible. And it must be multi‑stakeholder.
And that without these four principles, we cannot actually harness the Internet for the future we want and for Sustainable Development so following the adoption of this Internet universality framework in 2015 for over three years and with many partners including some in the room we worked to develop the Internet Universality Indicators and they use a multi‑stakeholder process in order to consult with various actors on the ground at the local level and also at the global level to say okay, if we want to harness the development of the Internet to contribute to Sustainable Development, what needs to be done? And the result is an instrument that was welcomed by our Member States at the most recent meeting of UNESCO's international program for the development of communication in November 2018.
And since then we have begun applying these indicators in partnership with National counterparts at the local level and as you underlined first and foremost in the Africa Region in Tunisia and Sudan. What are the objectives of this Internet Universality Indicators framework? First it represents a comprehensive and substantive understanding of the National Internet environment and policies because in order to assist Governments in developing inclusive policies for the Internet, we first need to ensure that a gaps analysis exists to say what is missing in order to ensure a compliant Internet?
The second is to assess the alignment of the environment and policies to these four principles, right spaced, open, accessible, and multi‑stakeholder. And the third is based on this analysis, to develop policy recommendations and practical initiatives that enable at the country level the Governments to develop inclusive policies through multi‑stakeholder approaches that ensure that the Internet ecosystem and advanced ICTs contribute to Sustainable Development.
So what concretely do these indicators look like? There are five categories of indicators four of which reflect the ROAM‑X principles and the fifth of which is concerned with cross‑cutting issues so things like gender equality, needs of children and young people, the economic dimensions of the Internet, trust and security, and legal and ethical aspects of the Internet, and here I'd just like to salute my dear friend from the ITU who is in the room, because we worked very closely with the ITU, having complementary mandates, the ITU specifically on issues related to infrastructure and UNESCO in the follow‑up to WSIS. Looking at questions of multilingualism online for example, how do languages, this is a huge issue in the Middle East and North Africa Region, how does the Arabic language on the Internet ensure production of local content that meets the needs of local communities? These internet universality indicators. There are 303 indicators, 110 are core indicators for assessments of National Internet contexts so the way we look at these indicators is they're a toolbox not only for governments but also for Civil Society and NGO actors on the ground to undertake gaps analysis to understand what needs to be done in order for the Internet to take its rightful place in Sustainable Development. And here again I'm not talking just about access to the Internet, but use of the Internet to ensure that specifically here Marginalized Groups like young people, like indigenous communities, like women, can actively be producing local content and local solutions using the Internet that contributes to Sustainable Development.
So what are some of the challenges to preempt perhaps one of the questions you may ask in implementing these indicators? The first is that obviously it requires careful planning. It also requires sufficient time and resources for effective data gathering and one of the things we're seeing on the ground is that this question of collecting data is a real issue because many Governments do not have centers for data, or statistical offices.
So how do you say okay, here are these great indicators, let's get data to identify gaps analysis, when in fact one of the first things that needs to be done is understand and ensure the challenges on the ground and ensuring appropriate statistics and access to data that could guide informed policymaking?
Here also another challenge I would say is to ensure that this process is inclusive. This is not a Government‑only led process. This is process that is multi‑stakeholder so that involves Civil Society, that involves the technical community, and that involves NGOs for example on the ground that are doing informed work so here we're also reimagining the way in which Public Policy related to the Internet is undertaken, where it is no longer a top‑down policy development by Governments alone, but an inclusive Public Policy approach so this is another aspects of our work is to say okay how can we reimagine thanks to the Internet and thanks also to artificial intelligence the way in which we collect input and data from multi‑stakeholder consultations in order to ensure inclusive public policies?
Very briefly to give an overview of what the implementation of these indicators means and how we go about it, there are really 8 steps to how we see the implementation of these indicators. The first is establishing a Multistakeholder Advisory Group to ensure that this process is indeed participatory.
The second is building a collaborative research team to make sure that the different stakeholder groups so technical community, Academia, Civil Society, the media, the Government, and the private sector which play a huge role in the way in which Internet Infrastructure and access is rolled out at the National level is around the table from the beginning to ensure inclusive Internet policies.
The third is developing a research plan and here again I'd like to underline specifically for the MENA Region say okay, what infrastructures as it concerns for example Department of Statistics exists in the actual ecosystem that we can rely on? And how can UNESCO with its partners reinforce the development of this ecosystem to ensure inclusive research?
The fourth aspect is really data gathering and data analysis, which looks at how to make sure we collect this data to informed Public Policy development, and then the two last tasks is really looking at developing a National validation Workshop and related advocacy activities, because it's hard to say, we need to work towards harnessing the Internet for Sustainable Development, where many people on the ground if you go up to a young person who's 13, for example, and thinking about what they would like to study in high school, they don't necessarily understand why this issue is directly relevant to Sustainable Development.
And again in partnership with the ITU and the framework of WSIS follow‑up we've looked at mapping specifically how the WSIS follow‑up action lines relate to Sustainable Development, and a huge part of that is also related to Internet access and Internet use.
And then the last task is really looking at impact assessment and monitoring so how can we not only develop the Public Policy but look at how we need to backstop National counterparts in the implementation? Because there are lots of very beautiful policies out there but the difference between the policy and the actual implementation is also another huge gap that we're looking at and so these multi‑stakeholder groups really serve as a platform to ensure both development, implementation and monitoring so we can adapt accordingly with a very, very fast changing and disruptive tech ecosystem in Middle East and North Africa how we can make sure these policies are adaptable and inclusive and keep up to the speed with the actual technological developments on the ground that are going on.
>> HANANE BOUJEMI: Thank you Sasha, that was amazing. I'm really impressed by the work you're doing. I think it sets the benchmark for policymaking at the global level and I think it will increase the level of acceptance of how digital policymaking should be inclusive and I think being UNESCO and other UN institutions leading this process it would be more appealing to governments from the Middle East to adopt and adapt also this specific process.
So I'm not sure if you have any outcomes yet about the implementation or the application of the universal indicators in the case of Tunisia and Sudan, was it Sudan? Yes, so just briefly, quickly, what have you kind of noticed from your initial exercise with these two countries?
>> SASHA RUBEL: So this is in progress in Tunisia and Sudan but what I would invite Member States around the table today and also Civil Society organizations who are here, we have a policy of open access, so all of our work is published openly online including obviously the Internet universality indicators and framework so they are downloadable for free in several languages, also including in Arabic so I would invite countries and counterparts here today to consult that.
The assessments will be available online. I'd like to underline here though that in no way is this tool indicated to say, okay, Tunisia is better than this other country. It's not at all a ranking. It's really a toolbox that's being used on the ground to assist in digital transformation and Public Policy making.
So in no way are these indicators meant to rank countries as it concerns their Internet development but really used as a toolbox to ensure multi‑stakeholder engagement in Public Policy making. We will be sharing the results of these indicator applications including actually this morning and this afternoon in our open Forum dedicated to this question, specifically to ensure lessons learned and best practices and challenges encountered between different regions.
As you underlined, challenges that are encountered for example in Middle East and North Africa may be different in the challenges in these indicators in Africa and South Asia.
>> HANANE BOUJEMI: Showing there's some kind of competition between countries is not desired practice but it would be good to actually measure the uptake of how to apply these indicators because then it will help us move forward as far as policy implementation is concerned.
Thank you very much, Sasha. That was really very helpful and with that, I think it's time to zoom in now and speak about the Middle East and specifically what are the kind of initiatives in place at the moment in terms of digital and I think the best person to maybe start would be Ayman El Sherbiny, who is the Head of the ICT, the vision of UN ESCWA. Ayman and his team with us today do a lot of work and collaborate with many, many Governments on different fronts so it would be good if Ayman can give his Point of View when it comes to the current digital initiatives, digital policy initiatives taking place in the MENA Region before we jump on ‑‑ .
>> AYMAN EL SHERBINY: Thank you so much, Hanane. I'm trying to raise my voice to keep energy flowing for the remaining one hour so actually I'm going to speak with sometimes two hats. One hat is mine which is the United Nations economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, and one hat for my main close partner which is the League of Arab States. Myself, my team, and others are tomorrow doing an open Forum related to these topics from very Regional perspective and it is open Forum 21. It is after tomorrow. It is from 5:20 till 6:20, don't remember the room now but we'll give more details. So back to my original hat, which is the United Nations.
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>> ‑‑ and then the first step I think in making it effective was in Marrakesh, where the Charter was approved and NomCom was appointed to select the first mark. Which was done and the first Internet Governance Forum from North Africa was held in Egypt. The second was in Tunisia, and the third was had last September in Morocco. This last one we decided to change, to modify or to review the Charter to avoid the problems that we faced during this three‑year first years of this Forum.
So this is the North African IGF. This initiative has common problems with the other initiatives I was speaking about.
>> So this is where you're going to speak about the gap?
>> Exactly. The main problem is participation and I don't know if you noticed that but the Forum is an annual Forum to discuss public policies related to Internet. So it is open to everyone. It's not for engineers to speak about the unique identifiers of Internet. It's not only for lawyers to speak about the legal aspects of Internet. It is for everyone to speak about the problems they are facing, about the threats they have about their children, about their privacy, et cetera. The problem is that we have always the same people participating, a few, not a lot, and mainly local people, because of funding, you know this is always a problem but this is not a problem. The main problem is that the participation is very low, and even it is of low level, because after the end of the Forum of this year, people will disappear and they will not remember anything. They will wait for the next year, which is not effective at all.
So the ‑‑ I think that the best way is to try to build the networks. We have several networks. For example for North African IGF we can have the network of the Arab IGF. We can have the network of the African IGF and take all North African people from them, to be in contact with them, to try to inform them on a legal basis, to try to ask them about their opinion about what kind of topic they want to see addressed during the Forum, et cetera.
So the problem with participation is very important and the problem of the quality of participation is important. If we want the Internet Community participate in policy development, we need to make them aware, and we need to make them interested and to make them know that they have to ask to participate in the policy development and this cannot happen if they don't understand what is happening, if they don't participate in the discussion, because participating in the discussion will make them understand what is the issue, what is the real issue, and how to overcome it and this is the way to make them ask to be informed in the policy development about the Internet Governance.
>> HANANE BOUJEMI: Thank you, Tijani. Tijani brought us back to earth probably because he mentioned the basic issue, participating. It's like we're looking at each other now, like, why is this a problem? I know organizations are deploying a lot of resources to organize events and you want to see new blood in these processes because you want to feel like you're creating some kind of impact. It's not always about talking to the same people all the time and I know how that can be very draining because it's like we're all the usual suspects and we have good reason to be here but we also have very good intentions if I may say but I hear what you're saying and I have to say also that there is hope. I like to be very positive because I have seen progress and I have seen new faces in the latest edition of the summer school on the Internet Governance at least which was organized by the Chair of the North African IGF and it was very successful with a bunch of Ph.D. students I was very, very overwhelmed to talk to and I felt really like I don't know anything. They know really more, and it's just a matter of kind of putting more effort into the engagement, and I don't see Fahd anymore in the room, and I know that he's doing a lot of work on the part of ICANN to the engagement and I know ISOC also is pulling a lot of resources to make this happen, and luckily we have two hands we can clap because you cannot clap with one hand but the thing is these efforts are still limited. That's not meant to be negative, you know. It doesn't have negative connotation but I think these people need help to be able to scale up so it will be good if ITU, unfortunately the lady left the rule and maybe UNESCO pool resources together to see how we can scale the work at the Regional level because it's maybe easier and then piggyback on other initiatives like PREDA, because PREDA has the resources to make things happen so we have to take advantage of these opportunities and gain momentum so we can bring in more people into the process so we can create a base of people that we can talk with and I think this is the challenge I faced myself when I led a program five or six or seven years back, there was nothing. I had to start from zero and then at the end we could see a little bit of movement but unfortunately, the momentum is not kept, so we need to make sure that whatever is happening on the ground we build on it to make sure there is some kind of continuity. Otherwise we'll have people coming back to say there is no participation which is to a certain extent correct. You are ‑‑ I get your point.
>> TIJANI BEN JEMAA: One of the initiatives that the November African IGF try to do is to involve more and more youth people, young people.
>> HANANE BOUJEMI: It's a lot better now.
>> TIJANI BEN JEMAA: There's two initiatives in this. One the Internet Governance School that will be always with the Internet Governance Forum for young people, and second, the youth Internet Governance Forum.
>> HANANE BOUJEMI: Yeah, thank you, yes. The participation of youth in IGF and all IGFs now it's a lot more prominent than I don't know 10 years ago. I think you all remember how it used to be in the last decade of the IGF, but now I think it's improving.
And to just feed into your conversation before I end up with Zeina I will have to go to Nadira because Nadira also has a lot of experience on the ground in two kind of contexts, that is the Asia Pacific and the MENA Region and maybe you want to dwell a little bit further on the gaps that we have in our context.
>> NADIRA AL-ARAJ: In fact, I want to thank first of all the organizer to include something to bring the voice of the Civil Society, the end user and one of the gaps I see in the Region, there is no sharing environment. There is ‑‑ people start to contribute to the policies either where they are stuck with some problem or when they find a nurturing environment to pull them into the level by doing not by going back to the earlier session about the capacity‑building, not necessarily to have to be organized. It could be by doing, and that's the experience I have when I was engaged into attending the Asia Pacific Regional Internet Governance and I found that in that Region, anybody who are interested to join, you can be part of the multi‑stakeholder group and the program Committee and they do have work modalities, the work modalities when they have rules and procedures and every year they have to open it to everybody, all the comments, the community who participated and you could see the input coming from newcomers so it's not lack of participation, of how to bring people, it's open, inclusive. No selection process so everybody learn by doing, listening and reading what's going on.
So this is another approach of ‑‑ this is a nurturing environment which I would like to encourage to bring to the Region, as well.
I mentioned about when we are stuck, we start working with digital policies, I want to talk about the ‑‑ on the National level, for example when two years ago the cybersecurity was implemented, it has a lot of kind of control of the freedom of speech, the first effect had been like a lot of journalists, they were being affected by that and then the think tank, the Palestinian think tank which they don't bring the research, digital research, into their studies, they start discussing these issues, even the journalist syndicates also start bringing this initiative.
We also me and Tijani, Fahd is not here, another nurturing environment which we created in the Middle East, it's community‑driven initiative where the Middle East, ICANN Middle East group, created the Middle East space where very close to each ICANN meeting will handle one of the issues, and we call for participant to write a comment on the discussion of that and then ‑‑ discussion and it will represent the Regional perspective, so it is by doing, learn by doing and getting engaged, but also such environment, it will help.
Another issue about, I was really happy to hear about the new move of the ITU, and I was happy that I was part of the delegate, the ITU PPT18, and I could see ‑‑ you talked about the Arabic, I heard about the Arabic group, and in fact, I felt alienated because I was not allowed to sit with the group, to bring the perspective of the end user. I'm not competing. They have to listen that we are working through the multi‑stakeholder opinion, different opinion to bring everybody to the same understanding. It's not top‑down. We need to go to the grassroots and find out the exact needs.
>> HANANE BOUJEMI: Nadira made really good points, developing policy can be intimidating. If you don't know the terminology, understand the concepts and how to link the dots and if you're not well connected in this fora because we all know there's few people that can get things done, and to do that, you need to have access to a lot of different layers in this fora. And it's not ‑‑ we shouldn't take this for granted so if we're bringing new people to participate, we have to obviously overcome the siloed environment and I think I heard this conversation in the first panel and to do that is extremely challenging and I know other fora where developing policy can take years so you are on the same page with other Veterans in the process but it's not impossible. It's doable. It takes time, and people need to be persistent but not everybody that we know should be contaminated with what I call the IG bug and it's a bug. Like when you hit that moment, you understand the issue, you suddenly feel like you want everybody to buy into what you're doing but I can assure you that it took me a long time to convince people that I know outside of the IG world what I do can be understood because nobody ever understood what kind of work that I do.
So I do feel you and I hear you, a need to kind of have that representation on equal footing with other stakeholders just because you want your voice to be heard as Civil Society members. So thank you very much, Nadira, for that intervention.
And last but not least I'm turning to Zeina. She's the convenor of the Lebanese IGF and she's also the Head of international cooperation with Ogero Lebanon. Are you still ‑‑ you are still?
Okay. Your experience is interesting in this panel because you went through everything, you know, to be able to set your National IGF, and it would be actually good if you can give us a snapshot of how did it go from the very beginning. When you got involved in IG to become a MAG Member and now you're trying obviously to influence policy in your country. Using perhaps the IGF as a mechanism maybe, so let us know what's going on.
>> ZEINA BOU HARB: Thank you, Hanane. First let me tell you a little bit about who is also here because maybe there are some people in the room that doesn't know. Ogero is the public incumbent operator in Lebanon. We're mainly tasked with pure technical project like connecting the nation with Lebanon with fiber optics. We are currently working on implementing a super computer for the students, to enhance innovation with e‑Science.
But also we are trying to align our business strategies in order to accelerate progress towards the SDGs so not only ‑‑ we're not only working on technical issues, we initiated the discussion for the Internet Governance in Lebanon. I've been involved with the UN ‑‑ I've been a Member of the UN MAG and Member of the Arab MAG and we saw that the experience we gained from this international and Regional Forums should be implemented also in Lebanon and luckily the management at Ogero were happy to have ‑‑ to contribute to this initiative.
So we started by gathering the multi‑stakeholder community to compose this Lebanese MAG from the different stakeholders. We tried to involve as many people from Academia. We have more than three universities on the MAG. We have the big technical communities, Cisco, Microsoft, and others.
We have the Regional organization like ESCWA. We have private sector, Civil Society. Currently, the Chair of the Lebanese IGF is from the Civil Society. So we initiated to prepare for the Forums. We had our first Forum last year and our second yearly Forum was planned, was scheduled, on last week, yes, but unfortunately due to the current situation in Lebanon, we had to postpone it till maybe the first quarter of next year.
We set for ourselves a Mission. I will share with you what was the initial idea for the Lebanese IGF. It's to build capacity and to promote better understanding of Internet Governance issues by different stakeholders in Lebanon and to facilitate a multi‑stakeholder consultation exchange of ideas and views to enhance the cooperation between all the different relevant stakeholders, and to communicate with young people to achieve their aspiration in that area, and maybe we can be a model in the region in that regard.
>> HANANE BOUJEMI: Thank you, Zeina. The Lebanese IGF could perhaps be the best practice, you know, in the Region, because you actually managed to integrate the IG process. You managed to learn a lot from the global level and you're trying to apply all the learning that happened in due course in your local context which is very good and I hope other countries from the region will come to learn how you did it so they can actually probably follow steps, it's the easy way kind of.
>> ZEINA BOU HARB: Actually because of the experience we gave from the Regional and international, we are now heading the Lebanese IGF Secretariat, because we know how ‑‑
>> HANANE BOUJEMI: We know how it works. I hope other countries will follow course and I think we still have a bit of time and I would like to open the floor for any questions, because there is maybe a last point that we want to discuss and how to create synergies to overcome all the challenges that we discussed today when it comes to digital policy frameworks in the context of the Middle East.
We touched upon this specific question with Jane and Sasha, because you spoke a lot about how to create synergies but if you we have any questions from the floor on this specific point or other questions, the floor is open.
>> Yes. I am a Professor at University of Morocco, and I'm also the Chair of North Africa IGF. Just a remark about to follow that Tijani and Hanane said about the participation of young people in IGF. Despite of all efforts made by ICANN, by ISOC, by ‑‑ and others about fellowship program, I think in my opinion, that our universities need to introduce in their curricula the courses on the governance Internet. We tried this experience in my University, and of course, it's a course in the University, and for me it's the best way to involve these younger people.
And I am very happy now to meet some students in different meetings. I met three students and now two persons here in Berlin.
>> HANANE BOUJEMI: That's pretty great, yeah.
>> It's my hope to introduce the courses of Internet Governance in the University.
>> HANANE BOUJEMI: That's a very good point. I think whoever has access or influence in universities or institutions to adopt a curriculum specific to IG, that would be good. I also heard that this specific topic is appealing to media students. I don't know where I heard that but I think media students and media practitioners are very interested in understanding the politics of the Internet.
So we have to kind of capitalize on that and maybe also streamline what we do, so we don't only kind of restrict our work to specific disciplines but be more open to gauge interest from other people.
I see Halit ‑‑ sorry, there's a question from the gentleman.
>> HANANE BOUJEMI: Please introduce yourself.
>> My name is Mohamed from the Data Protection Authority, CNDP. My question is addressed to Mr. Ayman. It seems that some Arab Governments are still struggling to shape their digital policies.
My question is, what's missing exactly? Are they self‑centered? Or do they miss the mid-east stakeholders approach? Or what's missing?
>> HANANE BOUJEMI: Ayman?
>> AYMAN EL SHERBINY: Actually what is missing is also the linkages, multisectoral linkages that has been evident in many countries. The silos is not between only the organizations but it is a silo between the Ministers, and particularly the machinery related to planning, so the machinery related to planning does look at the socioeconomic issues and plan for it, in the Conventional classical approach that has been done a long time ago, without the digitization. When they mentioned digitalization as my colleague and friend said, they just push it in somewhere in the National agenda.
What is needed is an overarching and let us say disruptive approach to digital planning at the National level, so the approach we are introducing this starting this year onward is National Digital Agendas. We are working on National digital agendas. That by definition includes all Sectors and it is of course engaging the Champion sector which is the ICT sector.
But not anymore the ICT Ministry has its own agenda and the National planning has just stamp that we use the word digital and there are some here and there, so what does this entail? It entails a process. What the process would be and multisectoral interdisciplinary process, that also multi‑stakeholder in nature across all Sectors but for this to happen we have to also start with multisectoral reviews and this is what we introduced. This is very tedious and very heavy but this response to the question of the gap, this responds to the question of stock‑taking of problems and challenges at the National level, and it's a feet forward to the think tanks. We cannot really give one size fits all policy advice.
So this is really the starting point for correct advice and advocacy so without that thing ‑‑ and this is what happened in the 2030 community. They started with the VNRs, voluntary National reviews. These voluntary National reviews is the starting point for the 2030 planning so we're doing the same, voluntary National reviews for the Digital Development and from there we hope in two years' time we will have this National things, at the country level. The rest is details.
I mean, who to implement, what are the partners, who trains? But the vision should start from that holistic standpoint.
>> HANANE BOUJEMI: Thank you, Ayman. That was very useful, and we have a question from Halit.
>> My name is Halit from the Centre for Human Rights, and I wanted first of all to agree with you and when you started this session about the lack of governance when it is about security but then we have other problems we need to address. I just give you quickly example. In March we brought before March at the start of this year, we brought some young activists who are really expert and they have interest in promoting free and open Internet and they managed to write a proposal for the IGF, it's about the dual that's used by our Government to monitor online activity. It was a well-established proposal and unfortunately it was rejected, and I believe there was no justification for such a rejection now.
We just need to work together and I agree that really Civil Society should be involved all the time. Whenever you have an initiative consider them, there are a lot of them working in the field. We are here just as I see it, we are here to work with you to have a prosperous future. We're not different from any other nation that needs to be civilized and to have respect for Civil Society.
So I am trying to organize with some colleagues a meeting in which all the stakeholders could work together, that's our purpose here. We want to work together. We want to promote the free Internet. We want to respect the human and Civil Rights of all citizens.
>> HANANE BOUJEMI: Thank you, Halit, very good point and it's pertinent. Yeah, it was definitely room for improvement when it comes to engaging Civil Society. So yeah, so point taken I think.
Thank you very much. I think maybe we don't have any more questions, and I would like to give the panel an opportunity to make concluding remarks if any. If not, I think this session is over, and I'll pass on the microphone to Hisham. Everybody may stay in their seats so we can conclude the session. Thank you, Hisham.
>> HISHAM ABOULYAZED: Thank you Hanane and thank you for the speakers from the co‑organizers and the speakers of the first panel as well. I know how challenging it is to stay until 6:00 p.m. on Day 0, only on Day 0 so thank you all for sticking around.
Just to highlight some of the take‑aways of the discussion and I will keep it very brief so that we can still enjoy the evening, I think the word context is king, reflects many of what we have discussed and learned from our speakers during the session.
Several speakers actually talked about the importance of how we package Internet Governance to keep it interesting, as Tijani, you mentioned, and repackage it in a way that matches the context. There was obvious also that our countries may be not just the Government but other stakeholders as well, taking different approaches to Internet and Internet Governance, as Youssef also highlighted, and this is maybe one reason and also a result of how we engaged at different fora like IGF, like ITU, like ICANN and so on.
So it's obvious that the need to institutionalize at various levels, at Regional or National is key to could be done.
There's a lot to be done at the National level, whether from the planning for digital strategies or for how we can also engage with different stakeholders, with Civil Society as Halit mentioned or technical community or other private sector actors.
Process is important. Emanual highlighted this, so having the process right is very important to our stakeholders to properly engage.
And of course the last thing is the long term, so digital policies, Internet Governance, is not something that just works overnight. You need to invest on the long term rather than just expect quick results, so the impact is usually the long term.
So by that, we conclude the session. Thank you all again for participating and being part of this. Thank you all our speakers and our partners for responding to our invitation to this one, and till next time maybe. Thank you all.
[ Applause ]