IGF 2021 Open Forum #56 Fostering democracy via digital inclusion: a global dialogue

Tuesday, 7th December, 2021 (12:45 UTC) - Tuesday, 7th December, 2021 (13:45 UTC)
Ballroom B

Digital policy and human rights frameworks: What is the relationship between digital policy and development and the established international frameworks for civil and political rights as set out in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and further interpretation of these in the online context provided by various resolutions of the Human Rights Council? How do policy makers and other stakeholders effectively connect these global instruments and interpretations to national contexts? What is the role of different local, national, regional and international stakeholders in achieving digital inclusion that meets the requirements of users in all communities?
Inclusion, rights and stakeholder roles and responsibilities: What are/should be the responsibilities of governments, businesses, the technical community, civil society, the academic and research sector and community-based actors with regard to digital inclusion and respect for human rights, and what is needed for them to fulfil these in an efficient and effective manner?

Panel - Auditorium - 60 Min


There is growing recognition that digital inclusion is about much more than the availability of physical infrastructure required for connectivity. The full enjoyment of human rights online requires a digital environment that is conducive to civic life, safeguards individuals from online harms, and protects personal data and privacy. In the context of competing authoritarian and private sector models of digital governance, neither of which are democratic, digital inclusion offers a meaningful alternative. It reframes the conversation around shared values—such as support for democracy, human rights, inclusion, and building back better—offering a new vision for life online and a way to rebuild trust in democratic values, institutions, and processes eroded by exclusionary practices and undermined by the COVID-19 pandemic. A human rights-respecting digital environment also requires an understanding of how individuals experience multiple, intersecting forms of exclusion online and offline. For example, launched by Ghana and Germany in 2020, the Freedom Online Coalition's Joint Statement on Digital Inclusion notes: "discrepancies in [meaningful] access exist across demographics and abilities, including geography, area/location, gender, class, ethnic background, and differently-abled individuals." This session is a unique opportunity to hear from officials on how their governments and organizations are working to advance digital inclusion worldwide. This conversation will feature diverse perspectives from Africa and the Americas, senior representation from international organizations, and civil society leaders.

Participants will gain insight into how governments and other stakeholders are concretely supporting digital inclusion. For example, via a facilitator-moderated Q&A, participants will be invited to engage in a topical, global discussion that is increasingly relevant in key multilateral and multi-stakeholder fora. Participants will be able to share their perspectives on digital inclusion, its core pillars, and what governments and civil society can do to actively shape a democratic, inclusive alternative to existing governance models for digital technologies. This feedback will inform the efforts of Canada and others to refine their approaches to digital inclusion policy moving forward. Participants will also leave with some key takeaways on what is necessary for a democratic, human-rights based approach to inclusion online.


Government of Canada
Global Affairs Canada



Philippe-Andre Rodriguez, Deputy Director, Centre for International Digital Policy at Global Affairs Canada UN Women (tbc) Derechos Digitales (tbc) Ghana (tbc) Office of the Secretary General's Envoy on Technology (tbc)

Onsite Moderator


Online Moderator





9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

Targets: SDG 9 calls on states to “build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.” Without digital inclusion - full and meaningful access to and use of digital technologies and the internet - access can lead to, and/or amplify, traditional forms of exclusion, or create new ones.