IGF 2023 WS #407 Why Digital Sovereignty Speech is Attractive to Global South


Organizer 1: Laura Pereira, FGV
Organizer 2: Kateryna Bovsunovska, Internet Society Youth Standing Group
Organizer 3: Qasim Pirzada, 🔒falcon youth learning platform

Speaker 1: Wolfgang Kleinwaechter, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Jaqueline Pigatto, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 3: Trisha Ray , Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 4: Mark Datysgeld, Private Sector, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 5: Innocent Adriko, Civil Society, African Group


Laura Pereira, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)

Online Moderator

Qasim Pirzada, Intergovernmental Organization, Intergovernmental Organization


Kateryna Bovsunovska, Technical Community, Eastern European Group


Round Table - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

1:To what extent claims for digital sovereignty have been implemented in specific regulatory mesures in the Global South jurisdictions?
2: What are some of the specificities of the digital sovereignty discourse in Global South countries? How are they related to policy-making agenda?
3: Can Global South claim of self-determination help to enhance global cooperation if it happens without risking the fragmentation of the Internet? If so, how is that possible?

What will participants gain from attending this session? Participants will gain insider knowledge by having contact with different views of global experts in digital sovereignty. These experts will share their theoretical expertise on the topic and their practical experiences as Global South-based researchers and policy-makers. The audience will have the opportunity to deepen their knowledge and collectively contribute to the identification of consensus and disagreements in the field of Digital Sovereignty and Internet Fragmentation.


The session will discuss the uses of the digital sovereignty concept by state and non-state actors from the Global South. Although this notion is not by all means exclusive to the Global South, its application in this geopolitical context often assumes specific contours which may entail specific reasons such as the common background of colonialism, as well as political and economic inequality.

In recent times, the concept of digital sovereignty has been invoked to advocate for an array of protectionist policies within Internet Governance. This perspective has been embraced by influential actors, including the European Union, China, and India, who employ the concept of sovereignty to assert local and regional interests in a global context, with potential implications for Internet Fragmentation.

As a policy argument, there are many approaches to types of Digital Sovereignty. Legislation with varying degrees of protectionism, local infrastructure development, local companies' economic self-determination, data localization requirements, and even geographical blocking of application providers, as in the recent case of the Brazilian blockage of Telegram, have one thing in common: they can all be justified by the preservation of a national sovereignty in a digital space.

Taking these multiple approaches into consideration, an effective method to deepen and enhance our understanding of this phenomenon might be to focus on a geopolitical setting where the claim of national sovereignty in front of global power predates the Internet itself and often relies on specific historical backgrounds to establish legitimacy. In this sense, we aim to offer participants and viewers a unique opportunity to reflect on the topic and work together to systematize relevant findings.

Expected Outcomes

Our session would represent a first-ever effort in IGF to think about digital sovereignty and Internet Fragmentation, specifically focusing on the geopolitical context of Global South countries. In this sense, we believe that it can have groundbreaking outcomes regarding further analytical and policy understanding of the different approaches of digital sovereignty per se. It will also shed light on the challenges and perspectives on balancing national claims of self-determination and risks of splinternet or other types of Internet Fragmentation that are now being explored in Internet Governance. This goal has been operationalized on our proposed outcomes. First, we are prepared to transform our session report into a white paper that summarizes the session's main conclusions, also reaching out to speakers and audiences who wish to engage. Second, we also aim to engage in follow-up events focused on exploring other uses of the notion of digital sovereignty for specific contexts.

Hybrid Format: Effective and meaningful participation onsite and remotely is one of the priorities of this workshop. In this sense, different strategies are proposed:

First of all, onsite moderation is already guaranteed and will prioritize an interactive and fluid exchange between the speakers onsite and online. The onsite moderator has IGF experience and has already done something similar in a 60-minute session with more speakers.

In addition, the format adopted integrates onsite and remote audiences. Speaker’s time will be strictly followed, as previously arranged with speakers, to guarantee time for interventions. Over the course of the whole session, the onsite moderator will encourage audience participation and the online moderator will gather the questions and comments through Zoom chat and tools such as Slido or Mentimeter.

As an extra strategy, the workshop team may use social networks to spread the word about the roundtable, getting more audience, and also collecting questions in advance.