IGF 2022 High-Level Leaders Session II

Monday, 28th November, 2022 (11:05 UTC) - Monday, 28th November, 2022 (13:05 UTC)

This second session of the High-Level Leaders Track, titled Digital Rights, will focus on the Global Digital Compact (GDC) Action Areas: Apply Human Rights Online and Protect Data.

Digital rights have increasingly become a critical aspect of human rights in recent years. The number of UN resolutions addressing various areas of human rights in the digital space is on the rise. The UN SecretaryGeneral has outlined key recommendations in the Roadmap for digital cooperation. Human rights defenders and NGOs around the world have been fighting hard for the recognition and legitimization of diverse ranges of digital rights to promote a more equal society in the digital age. Business enterprises are encouraged to follow the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights built on the “Protect, Respect, and Remedy” framework. And governments around the world are passing legislation to improve frameworks for digital rights.

International discourse on digital rights has ranged from freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, access to information online, data protection and privacy, to social justice and equal opportunities in the digital space. We are witnessing an increasing number of Internet shutdowns around the world; some countries have effectively created closed domestic networks for their citizens. Globally, our personal information, behaviors, and preferences encounter frequent processes of dataficiation and exploitation. Even as we celebrate new progress being made in AI and other advanced technologies like the Metaverse, VR/AR, cloud computing and 3D printing, we are constantly interrogating how our privacy is being molded as a result of these new tools.

Without a comprehensive solution to normalize and defend various digital rights, we risk facing severe erosion of our collective human rights and security: Internet shutdowns, censorship and surveillance are excluding many populations in the world from accessing critical information that can save lives and allow them to make informed decisions. Digital controls and uneven access to information threaten democratic progress and perpetuate inequality.

This panel will discuss what different stakeholders can contribute to the standardization and defense of digital rights. Specifically, it will reflect on how a basic framework can possibly be established given the diversity of governance structure and individual identity. Looking toward the future, digital rights will continue playing a larger role in human flourishing in this increasingly digitized world. They are, undoubtedly, important components of advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

Moderator: Ms. Shivanee Thapa Basnyat - Senior News Editor/Presenter, Nepal Television


  1. Mr. Vinton Cerf - Chief Internet Evangelist, Google/ Chair, IGF Leadership Panel
  2. (Ms.) Dr. Alison Gillwald - Executive Director, Research ICT Africa
  3. Mr. Iginio Gagliardone - Associate Professor, University of the Witwatersrand
  4. Mr. Tewodros Besrat - Technical Expert, Digital Payments
  5. (Ms.) H.E. Karoline Edtstadler - Minister for the EU and the Constitution of Austria
  6. Ms. Irene Khan - UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Opinion and Expression*
  7. Ms. Mazuba Haanyama - Head of Human Rights Policy, Africa, the Middle East and Turkey*
  8. (Mr.) Msgr. Lucio Adrián Ruiz - Secretary, Dicastery for Communication, Holy See
  9. (Ms.) H.E. Monica Mutsvangwa - Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Zimbabwe
  10. Ms. Thoko Miya - Founder, Startup Thoko
  11. Mr. Amandeep Singh Gill - UN Secretary-General's Envoy on Technology
  12. Mr. Thomas Schneider - Ambassador and Director of International Affairs, Federal Office of Communications, Switzerland
  13. Mr. Benjamin Brake - Director General, Data and Digital Policy Department, German Federal Ministry of Digital Affairs and Transport
  14. Mr. Viktors Makarovs - Special Envoy on Digital Affairs, Latvia
  15. Mr. Volker Türk -  UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (video message)* 

* Online