IGF 2023 WS #124 Safeguarding freedom of expression in digital platform regul

Organizer 1: Ana Ruelas, UNESCO
Organizer 2: Rachel Pollack, UNESCO
Organizer 3: Lucas Ferreira, UNESCO
Organizer 4: Guilherme Canela Godoi, 🔒UNESCO

Speaker 1: Andrew Puddephatt, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Flavia Alves, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Ella Serry, Government, Asia-Pacific Group


Guilherme Canela Godoi, Intergovernmental Organization, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)

Online Moderator

Ana Ruelas, Intergovernmental Organization, Intergovernmental Organization


Rachel Pollack, Intergovernmental Organization, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Round Table - 60 Min

Policy Question(s)

1. How best to ensure better global governance and co-operation among stakeholders
2. Protecting human rights in the context of digital platform regulation related to the systems and process to manage content.
3. Addressing the human rights concerns of vulnerable groups subjected to harassment and threats online
4. Addressing the whole of the society role when in the context of digital platform regulation.

What will participants gain from attending this session? UNESCO began the global consultation process for these Guidelines in September 2022. Hundreds of stakeholders from more than a 100 countries have participated at various stages and in a very active way. This is a moment to jointly think about the next steps for the operationalization and adaptation of the guide according to the different contexts and local realities.


UNESCO’s global mandate, which includes the promotion of “the free flow of ideas by word and image”, has guided the Organization’s work for nearly 80 years as a laboratory of ideas and a standard-setter for international cooperation. This history has shaped our mandate within the United Nations system to protect and promote freedom of expression, access to information, and safety of journalists.

The advent of the Internet and social media have greatly expanded ways of expressing information and organizing ourselves. But we are also increasingly conscious that they have become a breeding ground for widespread disinformation, hate speech and conspiracy theories that regulatory systems need to catch up to safeguard freedom of expression and access to information.

In the face of these challenges, greater guidance is urgently needed. Based upon experiences from regulation, in addition to relevant principles, conventions, and declarations over the past decade, UNESCO developed, through multistakeholder consultations, Safeguarding freedom of expression and access to information: guidelines for a multistakeholder approach in the context of regulating digital platforms (the Guidelines).

The multistakeholder consultation that started in September in 2022, will end on June 2023 and UNESCO aims to present the final document in different regions and settings, one of them at the Internet Governance Forum.

The Internet Governance Forum’s community is key for the follow up actions on the regionalization and operationalization of the Guidelines as for the creation of multistakeholder communities to promote smart regulation.

Moreover, as the Guidelines aim to to inform and feed into the broader UN processes of the Global Digital Compact and the Summit of the Future 2024, the workshop is an opportunity to bring different elements of the UNESCO initiative into a broader scope.

Expected Outcomes

The final document of the Guidelines for Regulating Digital Platforms: a multistakeholder approach for safeguarding freedom of expression and information.
Begin conversation with stakeholders from different regions to build and facilitate the creation of coalition of stakeholders for smart regulation.

Hybrid Format: First, we will ensure fluent communication between our onsite and online moderators to keep track of the questions and comments from both groups and ensure that everyone has a chance to voice their thoughts. Through audio and visual equipment, we will allow online participants to have both auditive and visual input in the online session. Also, to ensure dynamic input throughout the session we will also allow for a chat function (accessible for everyone onsite and online via their phones or computers) so that attendees can post their questions, thoughts, and comments online and have a back-and-forth conversation.