The following are the outputs of the captioning taken during an IGF virtual intervention. 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, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
>> AVRI DORIA: Okay. I guess this is the beginning of the main session, and basically I was actually looking for Sook to start us, and still getting used to the screen and I see some of our, this is the main session on digital cooperation, Quo Vadis? Where are we going? Where have we been?
To start off, I would like to pass the floor.
>> SOOK-JUNG DOFEL: I hope you can hear me properly. I also would like to express my warm welcome to the main session on inclusive Internet Governance ecosystems and digital cooperation, and before I start or before we start our discussion, I would like to introduce the distinguished panel to you, and, of course, the moderator, Avri, thank you for taking over this job.
I would like to start with Jean Paul Adam, the Director of technology, climate change in the United Nations economic commission for Africa.
We also have Vint Cerf with us, the Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist at Google.
We have Raül Echeberria.
Justin Fair, Senior Advisor for cyber and digital policy in the Bureau of international affairs at the United States Department of State.
>> I welcome Anita Gurumurthy, founding member and executive member of IT For Change. Milton Mueller will join us later, he is currently in another session and will come and join us, I think, 15 to 30 minutes later, he is Professor at the Georgia institute of technology, and the Director of the Internet Governance project.
We have Nnenna Nwakanma, chief web advocate and Worldwide Web Foundation.
Director General in sector programmes, German Interest Corporation, GIZ, and last but not least, Maria Francesca Spatolisano, assistant Secretary‑General for Interagency Affairs and Avri Doria who is very much experienced with the IGF, currently a member of air ICANN board and an independent researcher. And, yes, I will also post the very short bios in the chat while we will be discussing. And so back to you, Avri.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Yes, quite a list of panelists we have, so before I say anything else, I will admonish us all to be fairly brief to try and keep within two, three, four minutes on any of our statements, otherwise, with nine people, and three different questions or four questions, we will never get very far.
The IGF since the beginning of its existence has been about digital cooperation. We haven't all called it that, but the names change, the times change, and such, but that has been and in fact from the very start, we said, and we have to be as good at digital cooperation as the Internet has been at digital cooperation, something that Mirjam reminded us of at yesterday's opening.
All through its life, the IGF and the MAG have gotten various recommendations for how to improve and they have always worked very hard to implement those as best they can. Now, we have the roadmap, and it's follow‑ons with more improvements and I think this conversation basically the last question we will ask is, okay, given that we understand what we understand, how is it going to happen?
How is the IGF, the MAG, the UN Technical Envoy and all of that going to work together to make this happen? But we are going to start basically with various perspectives. The first set of perspectives are from the people outside the roadmap, not so much outside the roadmap, they didn't draw the roadmap, they are on the road, perhaps, but basically people who weren't part of putting it together just looking at our line.
And on that, I would like to first go to Vint and ask for his perspective on the roadmap and digital cooperation, where are we going?
>> VINT CERF: Thanks so much, Avri, and good morning, good afternoon, everyone.
Let me begin by suggesting to you that the Internet is an artifact. It's a glibly designed global and shared infrastructure. It bears some of the characteristics of other shares ecosystems like the atmosphere, the oceans and space.
Learning to maximize the utility of the Internet while managing its risks is like training wheels on a bicycle. If we can develop common norms and international behavior agreements for the Internet, we can apply these lessons to other more important SDGs many of which are aimed at shared and equally vital infrastructure.
Secretary‑General Guterres Digital Cooperation Initiative is representative of this mindset, and it could not be more timely. The Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace on which I sit has proposed a variety of norms aimed at protecting the use of the Internet and its users. Some actors advocate for policies that would fragment the Internet and erase its global potential. The term data sovereignty is invoked in aid of this argument.
One understandable motivation for this argument is to achieve control of access to data, a concept adjacent to privacy, but this desirable protection can be achieved by other means that need not fragment the Internet. At the proper levels in the Internet's architecture, one can introduce cryptographic means to both enforce access control and to apply strong authentication to the identity of accessing parties and the integrity of the data.
The free flow of data across borders is actually one of the most valuable aspects of the global Internet. It's widely appreciated that the applications of the Internet have simultaneously given rise to powerful collaborative capabilities such as the development of a response to the global COVID‑19 pandemic, and also opportunity for harmful and cross‑border behaviors.
It's no wonder that national safety and security concern have arisen, but to cope with a global system, one must apply global methods and thus the call for digital cooperation extends to law enforcement and the apprehension of criminals.
We have seen recently some very effective cooperation across national and international law enforcement agencies and the private sector in aid of such work such as tracking down and apprehending ransomware hackers. These examples reinforce my belief that learning to work together to maintain and advance the benefits of a global Internet and increase safety and security in its use will inform our efforts in the other SDG domains.
Let us go now and learn together to preserve our global natural and artificial habitats. Thank you, Avri.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you, Vint Cerf for your comments. Now, for a perspective, I would like to go to Elke Siehl.
>> ELKE SIEHL: Thank you very much. First of all, thank you for inviting me to this very special panel. I'm very happy that I could share some of my thoughts with you. Our digital initiatives are very much in line with the UN Secretary‑General's Roadmap for Digital Cooperation and its main goal of making meaningful digital connections available for all. And we highly value its multi‑stakeholder approach where diverse institutions and organisations, especially in the development of the roadmap shape the global perspective that we need to have on digital transformation.
So, for instance, the roadmap has been a relevant process to put public digital goods on the political agenda. Let me give you a short example from our work. Our engagement in the Digital Alliance and our initiatives are founded the International Telecommunications Union, Smart Africa and the Digital Impact Alliance is very much driven by the UN putting digital public goods on the map.
I imagine the roadmap has certainly also been helpful to coordinate the effort within the UN, and I would wish for much more institutions and communities beyond the UN to take inspirations in this roadmap and use it as a tool for coordinated efforts and activities.
But also, in order to make this roadmap a tool for cooperation, I would like to point out the that transparency of results in the multi‑stakeholder process and the further reflection about the question who is at the table will be very necessary. What I can see is that there is a lot of digital cooperation outside the roadmap. Be it, for example Smart Africa, or also initiatives within the European Union.
Digital cooperation does take place on many different levels, but not yet in a very coherent way. And as we all know, roadmaps and documents only help to a certain extent. What we need are strong institutions with sufficient resources and an inclusive governance model that ensures better coordination not only between states but also with private sector and civil society.
Moreover, we need the mindset of co‑creation and feedback as it already integrates in the digital development principles. To sum up, for better Internet Governance, we need more than roadmaps and joint declarations or technical standard setting bodies. We need strong relationships, good partners and fast and agile cooperation. Thank you very much.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much. And very happy to hear the theme of we need a lot more cooperation when we are talking about digital cooperation and a roadmap to cooperation. So I very much appreciate that theme. Nnenna Nwakanma, next I come to you, somebody who is actually up here with me. And so please, can we have your perspectives on our road to, on the roadmap and to greater digital cooperation.
>> NNENNA NWAKANMA: Thank you very much.
Hello, everyone. I would not be reading a speech to you. I will speak from my heart as always. And the first thing I want to say is congratulations to the people who are sitting up on the east coast and the west coast of the U.S. in this session. Thank you for waking up early.
It is the 8th of December today. It is the 16th edition of the IGF. Avri, yourself and myself, we have been here from prep com to WSIS, we lived through the digital solidarity base. Do you remember? Do I sound better now? I'm sorry.
I wanted to say hello to those who woke up early. And I'm saying that we are on the 8th of December today, and we have come a long way. We have come a long way from the preparatory days of the WSIS, is digital solidarity. We have done 16 years Internet Governance Forum I have done it globally, and nationally.
At the Worldwide Web Foundation, this is our fourth year of digital cooperation. So we have been there since the High‑Level Panel that gave us a report, and we have been there at the launch of the roadmap. We welcomed the formation of the office of the UN Technical Envoy, and we have seen the launch of something called Our Common Agenda.
And so my first and initial submission today is that digital cooperation is only a subset of the digital ecosystem. I'm glad that Vint Cerf spoke before me. There is a whole lot of things happening out there in the digital ecosystem that doesn't come under the purview of the roadmap, and that is very important for us to understand.
The digital cooperation roadmap only has its pillars, and so as civil society, as the Worldwide Web Foundation, we are not satisfied. It is important to know that. It is only a subset of our issues. But as they say, the UN only steps in when countries and its Member States cannot solve out a problem themselves.
So I believe that the UN is not there to make us happy, but to make us equally unhappy. And so unhappy as we are, we are going to forge along with digital cooperation, and now we have a roadmap.
We have been working on the roadmap on global connectivity. We see that a lot of things have been left out, but it is better than having nothing at all. So we want to congratulate the work that the ASG, Maria Francesca Spatolisano has been doing, despite restrictions, but I want to leave my final word with everyone, the Worldwide Web was created, invented and given to humanity for two reasons, to be for everyone and to be for good. The part of everyone is the one I want to bring in here.
That is why The Web Foundation has dedicated to digital cooperation. So part of my work is digital cooperation. If you want to know what digital cooperation looks like in human forms, that's what this person is speaking. I'm a West African woman from the Global South, and I will be here on digital cooperation every day. That's my commitment. And make sure that everyone, every voice will be heard. Whatever plan of digital cooperation is going to come out, either from the USG office or from Digital Cooperation Office, I will be there. So my commitment and the commitment of the Web Foundation is the same question of web we want, that it will be for everyone. And until then, you will have me. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you.
And hopefully the USG office, perhaps, will have an icon to look at and say this is what we are heading for. This is what we are looking for, perhaps.
So next I go to Justin, and comments on perspectives from outside the roadmap.
>> JUSTIN FAIR: Good morning. Certainly a hard act to follow. Happy to be here discussing this important issue.
These are timely conversations and I just at the global level, I work at the US State Department where recently our secretary announced a program to arrange our digital offices into a coherent structure that allows the United States to better coordinate on cyber and digital cooperation efforts in our diplomacy. I'm sure other organisations around the world are going through a similar process, so it makes sense that the United Nations is doing that as well.
We need that same foresight and thinking at the global level about how we organize to respond to these current challenges but also take advantage of the opportunities. And so global digital cooperation, rooted in an inclusive and multi‑stakeholder approach is essential to ensure the Internet and digital technologies continue to be a force for good around the world. These are some of the key policy issues of our time and we need to get them right.
It's also important to take stock of the process over even just the past year on some of these issues including within the United Nations system. The ITU just released a report about global connectivity which had concerns that need to still be addressed but there is also good news about the growth since over the last couple of years in global connect. The UN OEWG and GG produced consensus reports. Earlier this year the UN Member States have agreed to a process to develop a global cybercrime treaty and UN entities from the Security Council, to UNGA, to the Human Rights Council, subsidiary bodies and commissions and specialized agencies have incorporated digital technology work into their work plans and produced some really important outcomes this past year, which in the work plans in general but also in response to a global pandemic.
So there is a, and who we are at another IGF having a wealth of conversations and that's just in the UN. I know many here are also involved in similar conversations at national, regional, multi‑stakeholder, the NRIs, industry events, civil society events. So digital cooperation on the one hand is, I think, fairly alive and well. There is a wealth of activity out there happening, and so the question for us then becomes where are there gaps? What is not being done? What can be done better?
How do we capture all of this good work that is happening, that is often just not shared or percolating up to policy makers or decision makers in various ways. I think in this regard the roadmap has highlighted some of the areas that we can continue to improve, whether that be redoubling efforts on global connectivity and access, enhancing Digital Inclusion, we think that importantly it focuses on the shared values that many of us have including human rights, fundamental freedoms and this work should be done through multi‑stakeholder efforts.
And then, of course, I think it importantly highlighted the central role of the IGF in that process and how the IGF has over the years taken this very important central role on how these conversations come together and should be part of the UN's digital cooperation work going forward. So I will stop there for now and save other comments for later. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Great comment. And our last voice in this particular section on the outside perspectives is Anita Gurumurthy. So please.
>> ANITA GURUMURTHY: One cannot disagree with the semantic categories of the Secretary‑General's report. From Digital Inclusion to human rights, it's all there.
But the problem diagnostic about what exactly ails our interconnected world unfortunately falls short. This means the solution simply misses the point. In 2018 the Secretary‑General appointed a High‑Level Panel Co‑Chaired by whack keen and Melinda Gates to advise him. Their report on which the Secretary‑General's report is based identifies the lack of trust and humility as the key problem preventing multi‑stakeholder cooperation.
Multi‑stakeholderism does not fail because of lack of humanity or trust. It fails because in a multistakeholder environment fundamentally equal road the strongest nodes of the network will dominate the overall network. In any such network with no clear lines of responsibility, it's impossible to hold any actor accountable for governance failure.
So we turn to the blind spot in the Secretary‑General's report, the ordinary story of extraordinary power of transnational digital corporations whose primary stake in digital cooperation is about ensuring the status quo.
Sanitized of the means to moderate power, multi‑stakeholderism retains no connections to the claims and entitlements of people. It also distracts attention from the responsibility and legitimacy of states in digital governance. The specific proposals in the Secretary‑General's roadmap do not clarify any binding mechanisms. Instead, they propose a high level body to address urgent issues supported by private finance and offering membership based on financial contributions as the Just Net coalitions open letter to the Secretary‑General signed by over 170 civil society groups notes.
We face the incredulous prospect of a big tech led body for the governance of big tech. Back to the moment when the EU and the Biden administration and Governments in the south including mine are stepping up public policy for stringent regulation of big technical. The vision of the Secretary‑General's recent report, a common agenda falters similarly. The document calls for a Global Digital Compact and strengthening the governance of the global digital comments and public goods, however it contains no recommendations for a new legally binding intergovernmental treaty or directions to enhance the implementation of the international rule of law.
These are the emerging digital public goods. On the contrary, it argues that this does not require any new institutions, coming on the heels of the UNCTAD digital report 2021 which observed the need for a new institutional setup to meet the data governance challenge. This is indeed surprising.
A collective future based on a non‑approach to global governance without political leadership or accountability based on voluntary actions by various actors where vocabularies coalesce around the high ideals of rights and inclusion and the yet the road to cooperation does little to address injustice or exploitation. It's nothing short of a tragic paradox that the mandate of the United Nations for decolonizing of territories is being reconfigured to enable a new digital colonialism. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much. I very much appreciate the range that we had in our speakers from those who sort of support it, those who are willing to go along with it, and those that see it as flawed. Sort of the perfect distribution for a panel.
Now, I would like to go on to perspectives from the UN and from MAG members or ex‑MAG members. The first person I go to Jean Paul Adam.
>> JEAN PAUL ADAM: Thank you very much. So as you can see, technology is always challenging, whether you are in person or virtually. Thank you so much, and thank you for the perspectives we have heard already.
I think, first of all, I'm speaking from the perspective of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, and the support that we are bringing to African countries to address digital cooperation. Unfortunately, we have to recognize that in Africa, governance of the Internet is something which is experienced rather than led.
In most situations, African countries have limited agency in terms of the governance of the Internet. And one of the key elements that we hope we can achieve through this roadmap and through the interventions being done by the United Nations is to improve this element of agency for Developing Countries, particularly in Africa.
So despite the significant progress in terms of Internet access that has been achieved in Africa, it is still well below and well behind the global average. And what we have seen in the context of the pandemic is also an aggravation of the inequalities of access.
So to fully be able to harness the potential of digital technologies, we need to look at digital cooperation from the perspective of inclusion, of ensuring that there is affordable, reliable, secure and safe access to the Internet. This also means democratizing access, strengthening connectivity, funding infrastructure, improving digital skills, and having a fair and safe regulatory environment.
We should note that the good quality Internet will require access for all of these people for broadband infrastructure will require investment of at least 100 billion dollars, and that does require an appropriate regulatory environment that will facilitate that. In terms of the Economic Commission of Africa we have launched the High‑Level Panel on Digital Cooperation, which is aimed particularly at implementing the African Digital Transformation Strategy.
This is being done jointly with the African Union Commission. And the strategic aims of the framework is facilitating for the African economy and building on the opportunity of the African Continental Free Trade Area and using networks for corporations such as Smart Africa aimed at bringing investment into key infrastructure to improve this investment in Internet infrastructures.
The Economic Commission of Africa and Better Than Cash Alliance launched a series on digital cooperation to share experiences and good practices. I think one of the opportunities in Africa is that a lot of the innovation is being driven by necessity. A lot of the inclusion around access to, for example E‑commerce is being driven by payment platforms and we are continuing to see that in the context of the AfCFTA and the regulatory framework around this is going to be important.
The Economic Commission is trying to address access among those that don't have regular access to the Internet currently and develop schools through an African Girls Can Code initiative which is a training platform across the continent which offers introduction to ICT skills for African women and girls. In the context of COVID, we have also seen the use of online platforms such as the African COVID‑19 Information Platform, or ACIP, which has aimed to use existing mobile infrastructure to connect people in a way that is useful and realistic for daily users, and this is the kind of example of cooperation that can be achieved on the African continent by working on digital cooperation through the African Digital Transformation Strategy.
And finally, also we have seen in terms of responding to COVID the opportunity to develop procurement platforms for medical supplies, which have demonstrated the ability to connect producers and manufacturers in Africa with the procurement teams, both within Africa and beyond, and creating more opportunities in terms of the real economy. Over $70 million worth of merchandise are being processes under the medical supplies platform, empowering African producers but also creating real solutions to the immediate problems of addressing COVID‑19.
And in conclusion, I think one of the key elements around digital cooperation is being able to empower Governments by giving them the right information to be able to act in a way which really addresses the needs of their populations. And, therefore looking at E‑government indicators is going to be one of the facilitators to allow Governments and organisations to properly allow digital cooperation to flourish and achieve the levels of access and inclusion that we want to see. Thank you very much.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much. And quickly I would like to go to Raül Echeberria who has basically been there since, with the IGF since before there was one, so, please, Raül Echeberria.
>> RAÜL ECHEBERRIA: Thank you to all of the organizer for the opportunity to participate and, hi everybody to my colleagues and speakers in this session.
I think as Nnenna pointed out, I have been around from the time of the preparatory meetings of WSIS. So, yes, we have seen a lot. Okay. Let's start with three things that I see as the main motivators for doing something on digital cooperation. We are seeing a lot of present issues in terms of development and policy and digital policy issues coming up every day in different parts of the world, and many times we are speaking about the same things and there are multiple discussions about the same things and in different places.
Second point is that there is a huge disconnection between the multiple discussions we hold in different forums, and the daily policy makings in each of the countries. My fourth point is that there is a perception sometimes, maybe it's an illusion, but until we don't prove that it's wrong, there is a perception that sometimes we could get agreements on some issues but we don't have the right mechanism to conduct the discussions toward those possible agreements.
So based on those three points, we have to do something. And the U.S. Secretary‑General has taken responsibility on this, has I think that he has read correctly the concerns from the international community, from the Member States, and he took the leadership in conducting this process on digital cooperation.
This is an imperfect process, of course. Of course, if the process is imperfect as well as the solutions probably because the role of the UN is not to make happy everybody, but to make equally happy everybody. So maybe that's the reason.
Sometimes it's a little frustrating because the processes are very long, and so we each have to make baby steps. When we see a light at the end of the tunnel and we think that we are close to arrive to some valuable conclusions, we discover that around the corner there is a new process and new forums and new discussions, but this is the way that the information cooperation works and so we have to be optimistic at this moment. This is the moment to be optimistic and to suggestion spend this belief and to commit all of us trying to do something different.
One thing you hear is the UN has to understand that they don't have to solve everything. They just have to pave the way to facilitate better cooperation between all of the stakeholders, and there is a huge responsibility from the UN side to bring on board the right people from the Government, from the public sector that to ensure that the discussions we have in this new mechanism have impact on the daily issues.
We need some concrete achievements in the short term because what I said before that there is sometimes those processes are frustrating and we need to achieve something and to move ahead and to claim some wins. Of course, the multi‑stakeholder model should continue being the basis of any solution, and in a way that permits to take advantage of the highly distributed in every sense geographically by different sectors but highly distributed knowledge, perspective and expertise, and, of course, for the benefit of everybody.
Because the ultimate objective as always is to build together a better world. Some of us are convinced that digital development is central is key for human, social and economic development, and, of course, digital governance and digital cooperation should play an important role in ensuring that we achieve those subjective source of building a better world taking advantage of the digital development. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much. At this point I would like to check with Sook‑Jung to check and see if there have been any comments in the chat or such that you want to point out.
>> SOOK-JUNG DOFEL: Thank you. There was one question on how does the SG see the links between the global digital comment and the role of the TE office and the IGF about relevant processes? What will be the role of the office with the Global Digital Compact, but I suggest that we pose this question later because we will have an input from the UN on the global compact, digital compact later, right?
>> MODERATOR: Yes.
>> SOOK-JUNG DOFEL: So no other questions or comments in the chat, but maybe Anriette or, oh, Vint Cerf is raising his hand.
>> MODERATOR: If it's a very brief thing. I have not been a good moderator in terms of keeping time yet, so please help me, because I do want to get to Maria Francesca Spatolisano's comments that are responding to all perspectives.
>> VINT CERF: Well, I wanted to react to Raül Echeberria's comments because I thought they were spot on. The thing that I particularly wanted to observe is that in my participation in the IGF, one of the most useful sessions has been with legislators and bringing them into the discussion for me, anyway, was very useful because they have a perspective that the technologists like me don't necessarily have.
So I would like to encourage increasing participation in IGF processes among the legislative community.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you. In fact, I think this IGF has had parliamentarians and legislators. So it's really good. Thank you, Sook, and thank you for being brief, Vint. So please.
>> MARIA FRANCESCA SPATOLISANO: Okay. Thank you for having me and thank you for all of these perspectives and input that I am absorbing as much as I can. The IGF is very important also for this. So the question I think is about the Global Digital Compact basically and the Office of the Technical Envoy. And what can we expect from this proposal and this initiative?
If you give me ‑‑ how many minutes you give me, three?
>> MODERATOR: Five, but you have used one.
>> MARIA FRANCESCA SPATOLISANO: Four, okay. Four will be enough to explain, I think, in a nutshell. So let me do a step backwards and remind everybody that last year was the 75th anniversary of the UN and we celebrated by asking everybody what they think, what they want the UN to be, and a million people, over a million people answered the surveys and the consultations, and we had a lot of work to do sorting out, you know, and sifting through all of this rich input.
Membership also read it very carefully, and then condensed, if you want, through negotiation into a Political Declaration, a document on the commemoration of the 75th anniversary where in one paragraph they wrote that we must, and I quote, "We must ensure safe and affordable digital access for all. United Nations can provide the platform for all stakeholders to participate in such deliberations." So I think this really addresses what we are discussing here.
We want access for all. We want everybody to participate, and the UN is a platform. I could stop here, but I won't, I'll continue and tell you that, of course, on the basis of this declaration, that the system, the UN structure started elaborating how to do that, and the result, if you want, is in the vision of the Secretary‑General, the report we call Our Common Agenda, which was presented in September this year. And it is a very broad report. It contains over 90 proposals in all areas of action of the UN for what is digital cooperation.
I have to say, we are blessed with a lot of work because the digital cooperation as many of the panelists already said, is a tool, is a means which can help to reach other SDGs, is a cross cutting element of our future, and we have to get it right. So there is a lot there regarding the digital cooperation and the Internet.
Basically it says that it is a global public good, and that there has to be, you know, a contribution which brings a process which through multi‑stakeholderism brings to some agreement in a document, we called it a Global Digital Compact. The Secretary‑General proposes that we all collectively work to create this consensus around basic principles, and that the Office of the Technical Envoy will coordinate this preparation.
But this preparation will be based on the, as I said, the inputs of all of the UN system, and all of the multi‑stakeholders, and there is no draft. We start from scratch. Let's be clear about this. This is why IGF is so important. Other venues will also be called to feed this process, and we will progress, we hope progress together.
So the common agenda suggests, indicates some areas to include in this compact. As I said, first of all, the connecting all people to the Internet, universal connectivity. Second, and it was also mentioned, avoid Internet fragmentation. Also protecting data. People's data. Apply human rights online as we do offline. Introduce, and I come to the criticism, introduce accountability criteria at least for content, misleading content, fake news, harassment online, all of the harm which can be regulated through these tools.
And then also promote regulation of AI, and as I mentioned already treat the digital common as a global public good. So this is a tall order. You all understand it's not easy, but we are set to do this, and we hope to do it using the existing venues, resources like the IGF, the multi‑stakeholder nature of the IGF makes it a perfect building block to look into the future, the digital future we want, and also using the various NRIs that exist in this context will be very important.
So I think that for now I will stop here and I hope this addresses a little bit of the questions which we are asked. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: A good next step in the conversation. Thank you. And next I've got a quick question to both Vint and then to Nnenna, which was, and this is a gut question, I don't know if you do gut questions, but this is a gut question, is do you think that the compact as described, as to be developed, do you think it will have a positive effect? In fact, the question I was given was do you think it will have a huge positive effect? But just telling me now whether you think it will have an effect or a positive one would be good enough.
For advancing digital cooperation, in other words, to the two of you who were both kind of in the, yes, let's work with it! Kind of attitude, if I can describe it, and, please, if I describe it wrong, tell me, what do you think? Vint, please.
>> VINT CERF: I'm by nature optimistic, and I believe in principles. And I think if we start from a belief that we want to preserve the utility of the Internet and the systems that have grown on top of it including all of those that are facilitated by the Worldwide Web, we have to start with a set of principles whose adoption will lead to the kind of network that we all want, which is open, safe, and secure and all of those other wonderful adjectives.
I think I am in favor of working in this way as opposed to ignoring the problem, and having everything get worse. So it seems to me that this is an agenda we should be pursuing.
>> MODERATOR: Same question to you, Nnenna.
>> NNENNA NWAKANMA: UN work is boring work so I see that the Global Digital Compact is going to be boring. That's my gut feeling. I also foresee that it will be equally unsatisfactory to all parties because I would never get enough and Governments will think they are giving too much.
However after WSIS and Tunis Agenda we have not had any global kind of agreement, and so I think it is a break through. I believe in find solutions or keep quiet, and since I have decided not to keep quiet, we are going to find solutions together. I have retired from optimism and pessimism. I have ‑‑ I just want to be realist, and so we are going to get in there. If we need to fight, Maria Francesca Spatolisano will do it, but then the Global Digital Compact is ours. Yes. We do believe that we are part of the Global Digital Compact, and our voices need to be heard.
So halfway, halfway, but now is the time to get in there and make it what we want it to be. If you are not going to be part of the solution, keep quiet.
>> MODERATOR: That's why I have been quiet all of these years. Next, I wanted to go and ask having heard that, having seen what we have gov, what changes do we need, and I have a programmatic set of questions I have been given. What changes do we need in order to advance digital cooperation? Perhaps in addition to this? Perhaps part of this? Perhaps instead of this? And in order to make a new model of success. So there is a presumption of the need for a new model, but what changes do we need?
Is this the change or that? And Elke I would like to go to you first.
>> ELKE SIEHL: Unmuting was just a problem. Let me address a question from maybe two different sides. First of all, I think this is also what we heard right now collaboration between public and private sector Governments and international organisations is not always easy and, therefore, that really makes everybody happy.
Particular interests of certain groups or regions make it very difficult to establish a common ground for the cooperation. And if you find common ground we all experience that it's very often a very general nature that cannot be easily translated into implementation or it is within a strong form, specifically interested driven. This works quite well in comparison to a cooperation at a very general and global level.
This is also how we approach and we currently deal, therefore, with a lot of issues where policy approaches and decision making often takes place under this great uncertainty. We also already heard of, and we are only related to limited questions and regions. For example, the design of the design ID application is relevant for every country worldwide.
It's not effective if every country designs its own solution. This is where cooperation is for like the digital public goods alliance come into play, and to navigate this difficult question, we took a regional approach, for example. We have made very good experiences with the networks and alliances, for example like Smart Africa. We also heard before and that our private sector, ITT ministries under one roof. This is maybe from the one side.
The other side as an implementing agency, we have also to rethink our ways of cooperating. Every digital solution has to be problem driven and developed in an iterative approach. This iterative approach is a challenge to our existing procedures of projects for development and planning, especially also taking into account the increasing measures securing compliance in the recent years.
Moreover, learning with evidence‑driven feedback also needs to be encouraged and built into regular management that allows for real time adaptation. And finally, we need to look deeper into why some stakeholders put a lot of effort in engaging and some might not. And I would also like to raise the question beyond intrinsic motivations of individuals, what are the incentives for engaging because working and putting personal efforts consumes time and resources.
So ending up, it is my strong belief that the greatest success comes from joint efforts, so we are keen to collaborate in new models of digital cooperation, whether in Europe, or digital cooperation between the team Europe and its global partners is fosters through the D4D hub, for whether the UN puts strength in its role of coordinating efforts. Thank you very much.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much.
Same question to you, Milton Mueller. Three minutes. Please.
>> MILTON MUELLER: All right. So what changes do we need to advance digital cooperation in some ways that is easy to say, but, of course, hard to do. So more digital cooperation will happen when the world's major state powers are ready to cooperate. This is the elephant in the room that nobody in the UN likes to talk about.
By ready to cooperate, I mean ready to stop engaging in intrusive forms of cyber espionage, ready to stop seeing trade in information and communication technology as a national security threat, ready to stop building walls around their digital economies and their citizens' access to information. In other words, I'm saying that digital cooperation is more of an effect than a cause and you would advance it by addressing the sources of digital conflict.
In order to get progress on that, instead of these grand goals like everybody is going to have broadband Internet access in the most remote parts of the world, which is actually going to be something that happens in the market rather than through the UN, you need to break problems down into smaller more focused problem areas or what we call policy problems in my discipline and public policy studies.
An example of that would be the cybersecurity problems related to trade and telecom and computer equipment, right? Like the Huawei U.S. controversy. Can't we work out agreed mechanisms to support trust that would allow free trade and competition in 5G equipment, for example? Why can't we cooperate on that?
What about competition and trade in information services? Why doesn't China trust Google and Facebook and other platforms to actually be available in their economies and why is the U.S. starting to question whether TikTok and other Chinese companies can be present in their market? Can we focus on that area and work something out?
And on the relationship of these trade and information services to privacy is another focused area where maybe the U.S., Europe, and China can work out common mechanisms and standards for protecting the data of individual users of the Internet.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you. And next I have Justin, and seems like a coincidental timing, but, please, Justin.
>> JUSTIN FAIR: I think first I was an engineer in a previous life, and the first step in solving an engineering problem is to define the problem and what tools you have to solve it. I think we need to do the same thing here. What are we trying to solve? And then are those solutions that we have identified actually focused on solving those problems?
I have been working or tracking these digital cooperation issues for a few years now, and it seems to mean a little something different to everyone. I think we are going to need to as we move forward really hone what we are trying to do, use more precise language, and ensure that we are focused on the same problems. If digital cooperation becomes to use an American analogy a Christmas tree where by everybody is trying to hang all of their priorities, it may make it hard to get any outcome and any outcome may be delighted and may not ‑‑ diluted and may not be impactful in the way folks want it to.
More precise would be helpful, which takes me to the second point. I think we need to be careful of magic bullet thinking. Some of the most fruitful UN fora on these issues over the years took time to develop break through and they had fairly narrowly defined mandates.
That's not an excuse for inaction or lack of ambition or lack of a sense of urgency, but it does highlight the need for focus and pragmatism and realistic expectations in how we move forward on some of these issues. It's probably very unlikely we can flip over to some new governance model or architecture or agree to a resolution or declaration or something that's going to address all of the challenges in the digital age.
We need a more balanced approach, and ensure that we are, you know, taking lessons learned from the past, and focusing those on the problems of the present.
And then finally, I think that a lot of what the UN can do on digital cooperation be effective is help strengthen and elevate the tools we have including the level of participation in existing fora like the IGF, help ensure that this and other processes are transparent, inclusive, properly resourced, and then help elevate and champion all of the important work that is happening in the IGF, inside other parts of the UN, outside the UN, so that information is available and useful and informing policy makers and decision makers and users around the world. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much. The last person on this particular question I will go to is Raül Echeberria. So what do you think is needed?
>> RAÜL ECHEBERRIA: Thank you.
Okay, when we created all together, we created IGF, I realized not only in the beginning but the following years that we have created probably the most innovative thing that has happened in international, scenario, international cooperation for many decades, but I still think that, but, of course, we are now facing the need of new round of innovation, so we need to go to the next step now.
And of course, including the IGF, because it is too early to let the IGF go out. Still we can take advantage of IGF for many, many years. But we need something aligned with the what other colleagues have already said, I think that we need some mechanisms to arrive to some high level principles related to the most pressing issues, some general frames to address the whole things.
I'm not, I don't think that we need to, we need something to develop binding solutions. Not at all. But, yes, mechanisms that allow us in a multi‑stakeholder fashion to arrive to some high level ideas, frames and principles to address the problems that or the challenges that we face.
So we need to identify what are the things are in the agenda international and bring many people on board to discuss that. I know that many people are skeptical with regard to arriving to this common ground. I want to remember that three days before the WSIS Summit in Tunis, it seemed absolutely impossible to get an agreement. And in three days we focused on developing, of finding and identifying the common ground and we did it. So always, it’s always possible to find some kind of common ground.
And we have to optimize. We need mechanisms that allow us to optimize the building of the common ground. One thing that is very important is that we need to bring many, many people on board, everybody to have really solutions that impact global policy making we need to involve everybody. I'm afraid that sometimes, and as I said in my first intervention, the processes are frustrating, very long, very complicated and we lose people along the way and this is the opposite of what we need.
We need to make things easier and more simple to everybody to participate. Thank you very much.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you. The next is, I wanted to check with you, Sook‑Jung Dofel to check and see if there is any comments that you have been picking up in the chat that you wanted to bring forward?
>> SOOK-JUNG DOFEL: Yes, thank you very much. There is a lot of huge agreement on the need for shared principles and there is one question that was sent to me, and I would encourage Emia if you are here with us to raise your question directly.
>> MODERATOR: I don't see a hand up or is it a person in the room that would get a microphone. I see the hand, yes, please. On the aisle about halfway. Yes, you see.
>> AUDIENCE: Very well-articulated points from our moderators. My name is Keith Andere, coordinator for the Africa Youth IGF, and I like the conversation about the digital cooperation that is currently ongoing. However I don't see anyone looking at the youth going into this conversation because I think we are leaving young people behind and that the key players who will make this digital cooperation work, and I really want to see what are some of the strategies ECA, you know, for example because Africa is a youthful continent, and also within the Office of the Secretary‑General what are some of the strategies to plug in young people. Thank you?
>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much. And, yes, as I look around the panel first at myself in the mirror and then at the rest of my colleagues, hopefully I'm not insulting any of them, none of us is youth, and it is remiss that we didn't have a youth. So thank you for speaking up.
And we really have got to do better at that.
>> NNENNA NWAKANMA: Thank you very much, sir. I don't think we are that old, it's just that we have been engaged for some time. It's really very important that we go away first of all from multilateralism in which UN Member States get together and do things. I think that is one of the reasons why we are here.
But please also allow me in your thinking to say Madame moderator, we need to go beyond the normal IGF crowd because the normal IGF crowd is the one that will get connected to indigo and register and get a PCR test, and you basically need a passport. Everyone who attends IGF has a passport and can fly planes, right?
>> MODERATOR: No, we have hybrid.
>> NNENNA NWAKANMA: Good. Then you connect online. You need a good connectivity, you need the right device that can do voice, you actually need a fast connection to be able to get connected. And so what we have proposed, we are proposing ASG is that we go beyond, in fact, we go beyond the people who are connected. We go to the unconnected people and explain what global digital cooperation is and what the vision that led to the launch of the Global Digital Compact is, and ask them what's one, two, three things do you want to see.
And our engagement at The Web Foundation is that this does not just happen in Paris, New York and London, but it also happens in Senegal, in Djibouti, in Bangladesh, in Sudan, in Tanzania, in the places where people are mostly offline. So in one sentence, Mr. Young Man, it's not only the youth that are marginalized. There are a number of other marginalized communities, and that's why we say everyone, not everybody, because peoples who bodies are not complete also have a voice.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you. I'm hoping we can do it this time. I remember that over ten years ago and beyond we were going to reach out to the unconnected. It was always part of our mantra, the connected and the unconnected. We haven't done it yet, so I wish us luck. Jean Paul Adam, you wanted to say something.
>> JEAN PAUL ADAM: Thank you very much. And, again, a great question. The Internet is supposed to be a tool for inclusion, but the reality is in Africa, and the pandemic has shown it remains relatively unequal in terms of access, and one of the key issues as well is affordability.
So I think a lot of the regulatory aspects should not only be top to bottom, but bottom up. So it's really about hearing the expectations of particularly young people, women and girls often who are, don't have a seat at the table.
And in that regard some of the work that is being done is about ensuring that there is capacity building. That's one of the pillars of the African Union Digital Transformation Strategy because ensuring that there is awareness and understanding of how to make use of, for example digital connectivity, to be able to, and in terms of developing entrepreneurship and building of companies is a key element.
And then the digital ID element, which is a part of the compact is something which has to be developed in a way which is not only about how Governments connect with their citizens, but are ensuring that all citizens are able to connect to make use of those services. And then the final point I would make is in relation to emerging sectors.
We talked about AI, the need for regulation, and one of the things we are trying to do in Africa is making sure that these emerging sectors are brought closer to young people through an African regional centre on AI which is being set up in Congo. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you. I wanted to check. Amir, I see a hand raised. Is that a hand from before or is that you? No.
>> AMIR MOKABBERI: Thank you for this opportunity to share my comments. Hello, everyone, and distinguished panelists, my question is that don't you think that to promote trust and to shape peaceful and development‑oriented Internet, rather than new battlefield and war zone, the world needs to establish a security‑based civilian national organisation for cyberspace management so that we could structure the cooperation for all layers, all states of governance, state standardization, digital standardization, online safety and cybersecurity. I'm referring to something like international Civilian Aviation Organisation.
I would like to suggest establishment of an organisation for Internet. I would like to know the view of distinguished panelists on this suggestion, and also I would like to mention a vital issue regarding nature and characteristics of good Internet.
What is the good Internet? People are going and discuss about digital cooperation. We should first define the nature and characteristic of good Internet. And good digital space. What kind of Internet and cyberspace we are going to shape and globalize? A vision of good Internet as civilian only and development oriented environment or militarized and unstable Internet and battle field? Which region?
>> MODERATOR: Thank you. Good questions.
>> AMIR MOKABBERI: How do we want to put digital economy and digital trade and communications between nations on such a stable and Government environment? Don't you think that a global declaration by all Member States to recognize Internet as a civilian space only for peaceful and global public good could help achieving this goal. Thank you very much.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much. You have given many points for people to think about, and perhaps as we go forward some parts will be touched upon.
I certainly don't have an answer for you. It's quite a philosophical set of thoughts that would be hard for me. So I wanted to move to the next section because I do believe we are running on time, well, actually running behind time.
The last question I had which was how can the IGF adapt, innovate and reform itself to advance global digital cooperation and what role should the IGF play in advancing global digital cooperation and the first person I have is Maria Francesca Spatolisano and then I will go to Anita and Milton. Please look at our time and be frugal.
>> MARIA FRANCESCA SPATOLISANO: Yes, indeed. Thank you, Avri.
If I, you know, have understood the and correctly taken into the comments made in this second part of our exchanges, I think I heard many encouraging voices telling us, yes, we have to start with a set of principles. It won't be perfect, but it is good to have a common ground, and it might be boring as Nnenna said, but it is going to be ours and we will work on it, and I'm very encouraged by this.
And I thank you for these comments. I also heard others who said, okay, principles, enough. UN, please be concrete. Be focused. Don't be, don't use your broad language. So I want to address that point, because I mentioned the content of the common agenda and the set of principles which would inspire this document, but I also need to add that we hope that together with those principles we will have also coalition of proposed and actions which would implement those principles or at least to start to implement those principles.
So it's not just theory that we want to put together. We want also to have action. I didn't mention it before because, of course, it's, again, very ambitious, and I don't want to raise expectations. We have to work on that. We have to work together. I come to your question, the role of the IGF.
The IGF can do many things in this respect. It can be and it is an important meeting point where you elaborate ideas, but I wonder also if it shouldn't be or become or trend towards being a meeting point where you can also start testing concrete cooperation, pilot actions, coalitions of voluntary natures whereby those principles can be then brought to the real world.
So I dare say that you might want to think along those lines as well. And then there are many other things IGF can do to, as the world says, adapt, innovate and reform itself. You have started already by streamlining the agendas and focusing around some themes and this is very important, timeliness of the issues that can be discussed is essential.
We also have the, as I mentioned before, the national regional youth forums and those, I think, are very peculiar and very relevant mechanism of the IGF which can help to raise awareness with the broader community going also beyond those who participate directly and spread awareness and also capacity building through those networks, which is important.
I also know that now we are in the process, of course, of building this new element of the IGF, which is the leadership panel, and I think it's very important because it has a tremendous potential to build on and support the MAG, but also to raise the profile of the presume as a whole to amplify the key messages, to help decision makers so that is a new element which we think will be very important.
And the parliamentarian track, the closeness with regulators will certainly make the IGF more visible, more interesting, and it's ideas better known. So I think that all of this plus, of course, necessary funding to do even more will all improve and raise the profile, I think of this incredible good and necessary network we are as IGF.
And I look forward as Technical Envoy office to receive those key messages, to be, you know, an entry point for bringing these ideas into the common agenda. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you, very appropriate view. So thank you. The next person I have is Anita, please.
>> ANITA GURUMURTHY: So while the IGF is not like other UN bodies that develop norms and soft law. This is something we know very well. The WSRs give the mandate to provide public for policy questions and not to forge consensus. As a recent letter highlights, the IGF must provide the best conditions for open, diverse and inclusive policy discussions. Unfortunately the IGF does not pass this inclusivity test.
And thankfully, because we have all been around for so long, there is a lot of research material out there which painstakingly documents various things including in quantitative ways. The IGF lacks representational diversity in terms of who contributes to the pool of public opinion and by logical extension what digital issues become public or get politicized.
The folks who come here may whir different halts, technical community, private sector, civil society, and many also do wear different hats across different years which in common parlance is referred to as revolving door, but broadly the interest in political ideologies present a shared consensus.
This consensus is not good for the political agenda. It suggests elitism and discounts particular intersectional locations. Many Developing Countries and businesses other than big technical are not there. One study has found that it takes 95 countries to reach the amount of civil society representation from just one country, the United States.
So what's vital going forward is to see how rebooted network, multilateralism for public policy from the complementarities that IGF did cover to galvanize Republics. The power of the IGF is in the ideal type global community it can grow to represent as the public of publications in the post national fora. This is crucial because states may not prioritize certain publications. The IGF is support the overlapping communities of interest to challenge corporate and state interests in pursuit of the highest ideals of human life. The mono culture of multi‑stakeholderism need to be broken by injecting democratic representation into the ways of the IGF.
For instance, health activists from the Global South have a lot to say about data rights, as do bio diversity activists who care about digital sequence information. How can they be involved? Hopefulness means looking outward and downward. Making the effort to understand how the disenfranchised communities see their role in relation to public policy making.
We need a post multi‑stakeholderism IGF that can deepen the democratic public policy go baits in the digital. Making way for less powerful voices and providing new frames that a new institutional framework for global digital cooperation can benefit from. Thank you very much.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much for that. And Milton, please.
>> MILTON MUELLER: Thank you.
So how can the IGF adapt, innovate and reform? So we need to understand what the IGF is and is not and what it can and cannot do. The IGF is not and never will be a policy making body. It's an open forum where stakeholders of all types can meet in equal status, and the equality of status is crucial to its identity and its function.
It affects policy indirectly by bringing networks together where people come to trust each other, learn from each other, and then possibly go off and do something together, but it's a micro level phenomenon.
So cooperation requires trust and familiarity, and IGF can help build that. Most of the proposals to strengthen the IGF are based on a false idea that the IGF can become something more than what I have described.
And I don't think those ideas will succeed. At best, they will create some new organisations and crown a few heads with the status of leaders. And the digital world will move on not noticing. At worst, it will contribute to the decline of the IGF status as an open, equal footing forum where new ideas can bubble up.
So to adapt to the future, the IGF has to boldly embrace the real policy controversies that face the Internet. This means that the MAG needs to be strengthened. We need less people on it, and more focused people, separate tracks that are run by the Secretariat and not from the bottom up need to be eliminated.
The people on the MAG should be people with real ideas about what issues are important, not people selected because they can conform to some category. And those issues that they think are important should be truly global Internet Governance issues and not things that take place at a local and national level and are handled by them or not things that are adjacent domains of policy like climate change.
We need to stop shying away from raising problems and issues related to powerful nation states or corporations. I'm told that at last year's session on the U.S. China competition which I helped organize, there were pressures behind the scenes, but ultimately we did get to do that, and it was a very successful panel that raised, developed a lot of benefit in terms of clearing the air about some of those tensions.
But those are the kind of discussions that can advance cooperation via the IGF, so we have to avoid any kind of veto power given to nation states in the UN process. This is not the Security Council.
In conclusion, I would say if discussions in the IGF are not making certain powerful global players a little bit uncomfortable, then that's a sign that it's not succeeding. It would mean that they care about what goes on here, and they may have something to hide from the global community if they are afraid of having things discussed.
So you can't have digital cooperation without full transparency, and the IGF is a great place to bring those issues to light. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you.
Amazing number of points. I need to come back to you again, Sook‑Jung Dofel, although we have very little time to see if there are comments that you wanted to bring forth from the chat. And while we have very little time, four minutes as far as I can tell, I did have a hand raised in the room from our last time that might want to go back, but first to you to see if you had anything to bring forward.
>> SOOK-JUNG DOFEL: We have seven minutes, not four.
>> MODERATOR: Oh, good.
>> SOOK-JUNG DOFEL: But actually I would like to pose a question to Anriette, . Anriette Esterhuysen is the MAG Chair and she has been with the MAG and IGF for a long time. Can you hear me?
>> MODERATOR: Yes, I can hear you. She is looking around for a microphone.
>> SOOK-JUNG DOFEL: So, I would like to raise or pose the question to Anriette, the MAG Chair who is with us and has been with the IGF a long time, and there are a lot of things that Milton suggested with regard to changes to the MAG and I would like to hear from Anriette, what is your perspective on the IGF? That would interest me.
>> MODERATOR: That's a good question to ask. Anriette, I see you have a microphone.
>> ANRIETTE ESTERHUYSEN: Thank you, and thanks to everyone. I agree with what Milton said, but not all of it. I think that the IGF strength is as a public participation platform. It's not a policy making body, but it can make other policy being made elsewhere better. But to do that, Milton, we do need the environmental activists, we need the labor movement here. We need people that work on social and economic injustice. That's the strength of this.
So Sook, I think the MAG is vital and I agree with Milton, we need a strong MAG. The IGF is diversifying. That's important. It does have to be an all-around year process. It needs high level components. It needs to bring Governments and intergovernmental organisations into the space.
And legislators, but I feel that the strength of the figure, which is its bottom up character, the fact that we have this channel from people on the ground through the MAG building a program that is relevant to them, that we are losing that by fragmenting the IGF ecosystem into so many different components.
I think we need those components, but we need to not stop having them being brought together and connected to the bottom up process through the MAG. So I'm not opposed at all to the idea of a leadership panel. I think we need that, but I would like to see it be integrally part of the MAG and work hand in hand with the MAG.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you. It was really great to hear you speak on it. Okay. Sook‑Jung Dofel did you have anything else before I go to the hands that I have seen in the room.
>> SOOK-JUNG DOFEL: No, please go ahead.
>> MODERATOR: Mr. Is a person at the back there. And then I saw one back there. So that's three that we will get, so, one, two and then three.
>> AUDIENCE: Thank you very much. My name is Ebas Weicek, from Syria, I have been working in this field of ICT and IGF and policy making for the last, since the WSIS and Tunis Agenda. I don't want to talk about politics but if you remember the in‑house corporation then which was drafted in Tunis Agenda.
Until today probably we don't know exactly what was intended by that time, and we still life in that ambiguity. What I'm deeply concerned, but I'm not kept skeptical is that we are facing a new, at the time that the Internet was just a technical world which was almost detached from the life of everyone, at that time there was so much about the Internet Governance and how it's going to be governed, ruled and managed, that that time the very ambiguous language had been used and that process was expedited to an IGF which did not have a policy making power, but was very useful to bringing IGF forward.
What's concerning is that now that the Internet is entrenched in almost every single aspect of our lives, we might be facing something very difficult and complicated to discuss. The figure would be very likely become too broad for so many people of us to be able to follow, especially in small countries where we don't have enough resources to follow.
We wish, and, well, I wish, and you can consider what does it mean, but what you are representing, but I wish this would be taken in consideration, small countries could be very simply lost in this process. Their voices cannot be easily channeled. The Under Secretary‑General in the first, in the zero day panel when he talked about the wonderful cooperation of the world related to the pandemic, he mentioned that there were so many cooperations to provide vaccine for the others.
I hope that this new introduced form of digital cooperation would bring, would be able to bring a concrete result like that and help at the end of the day, no, it's not the market which bring in people connected to the Internet. Business as usual would result in the same uneven and distribution of access and uneven capability to influence it.
We can keep saying it's a bottom up process, but at the end of the day, we remain out of it. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much for your comments. Request can the microphone go ‑‑ there is the hand.
>> AUDIENCE: Hello to everybody. My name is Mr. Jalo Alasin. I'm from Guinea. It's the first time I'm coming to IGF, but since I came here, I did some remarks, so I assist to some session and meetings, but I remark most of the sessions they are speaking in English, so there was a suggestion I would like to do, because there are some people not everybody speaks English.
So I assist to some Conference in other countries, but they are using ear phone translator. I think it will be good to think about it for the next session because if people come here is to get benefit of the meetings, so to give their ideas, but I see also the room is almost empty, not so full, so maybe it depends on the language also. Thank you very much.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you. In this room, in these main sessions, we do have translators at the back. There were microphones and such that people could have gotten. It isn't the case in all sessions, but in these main sessions, indeed, there are multiple languages.
>> AUDIENCE: Thank you very much.
>> MODERATOR: You are welcome. Please, the microphone comes here.
>> Well, at the international governance forum we meet amongst people who come from many different countries, but please remember that we can also hold IGF Summits in national languages. You can do it whenever you want. Here we speak English, but we can also speak French.
>> AUDIENCE: I'm Christina and I work for Ukrainian section of Polish radio. I have a request about the digital divide because I guess we have pretty many countries which are a divided and you said a little about China. I have a question, if we can expect that one day China would allow events to use legally Facebook, TikTok, not just great firewall, if we can expect this, and if there is any way to cooperate with China about this theme. Thank you so much.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you for the question. I don't know if anybody on the panel has an expectation. I think we have hope, but I don't know about expectations.
>> AUDIENCE: It was a question for Mr. Milton Mueller.
>> MODERATOR: Mr. Milton Mueller.
>> MILTON MUELLER: Do we expect China to open up its information economy? No. The trend is in the opposite direction at the moment. It's a very disturbing trend in many respects. China goes through cycles of openness and closedness and they are very much in a barrier building cycle right now, kind of a paranoid cycle, which I have to be fair the U.S. is also kind of in that space, at least certainly was during the Trump administration.
So that's why I think when we talk about digital cooperation, we need to talk about these relationships between the great powers in the geopolitical space, and right now we have these three major blocks, Europe, the U.S. and China, and I'm sorry about, you know, sounding maybe ‑‑ I am just reflecting reality, I'm not saying that the rest of the world is not important, but when I'm saying is that these three blocks of really making decisions about policy that really sort of set the terms for the rest of the world.
So I would be very much in favor of the U.S., China and Europe negotiating freer arrangements regarding the flow of information and the services between these countries, and also working out acceptable privacy and data protection practices among them.
And I think that that's the kind of issue that the IGF needs to facilitate. Somebody earlier said it takes time to develop things and, again, expecting the IGF to suddenly become an influential player and this is not realistic, but we can set the ground work, we can form the networks.
I have met and worked with many people from China.
>> MODERATOR: I have been getting the signal that our time is up. And so forgive me for interrupting, but it sounded like it could have been a really good lecture if I had been able to let it go. So I want to thank all of the panelists. I want to thank all of the participants, and I want to say that I'm heartened to see the Secretary‑General again paying attention to the IGF and to the digital world, and I'm curious to see where it goes. Thank you. The session is ended.