This post was written by Nnenna Nwakanma, Chief Web Advocate at the Web Foundation.
The pandemic has ushered in a new world. To chart a way forward for human development, for renewal and rebuilding, and for a greener, better future, the United Nations Secretary-General published “Our Common Agenda”, a set of 12 action points to accelerate action toward concrete, positive global change.
This global crisis has made one thing abundantly clear: access to the internet is a lifeline and a fundamental human right. That’s why we at the Web Foundation welcome especially the seventh action point of our Common Agenda: Digital Cooperation.
Drawing from the ongoing engagements and efforts of the Roadmap for Digital Cooperation, this pillar advocates that a Global Digital Compact be launched during the proposed Summit of the Future in 2023.
The Global Digital Compact is an unprecedented move toward an agreed set of actions so that everyone, everywhere can benefit from involvement in our digital world. These actions include:
- Connect all people to the Internet, including all schools
- Avoid Internet fragmentation
- Protect data
- Apply human rights online
- Introduce accountability criteria for discrimination and misleading content
- Promote regulation of artificial intelligence
- Digital commons as a global public good
In the lead up to the Summit of the Future, the UN is conducting open consultations among its member states and key stakeholders. As conveners of the Contract for the Web community, it’s our duty to make sure civil society voices, especially from the Global South, are represented in the content of the Global Digital Compact and represented in the process of its development.
Below is the text of a statement I gave at a recent open consultation.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
My name is Nnenna. I come from the Internet. I am the Chief Web Advocate at the World Wide Web Foundation, which was founded by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the web. I am speaking today on behalf of 100 civil society organizations who have been engaged in the Digital Cooperation agenda, some for the past three years, others, since the launch of the Roadmap for Digital Cooperation.
Our organizations have been actively engaging with the United Nations in its digital cooperation and technology work. For example, since its establishment we have worked with the Office of the Tech Envoy on the Digital Cooperation Roadmap, contributing to the working streams of our various fields of expertise. We have also been engaged with the Office of the President of the General Assembly and the Executive Office of the Secretary-General.
At the moment, we are scoping further engagement with the Office of the Tech Envoy, our Common Agenda in general, and in particular the Global Digital Compact. We plan to bring in more voices from the grassroots, especially from the populations in the global South. We are confident that we will keep our engagement until the Summit of the Future and even beyond.
We therefore call on your Excellencies:
- to note this engagement from the civil society organizations,
- to encourage and support us,
- to continue to support the office of the Tech Envoy to be able to do more with us and ensure that grassroots participation in the Global Digital Compact becomes a reality.
I also call on your good offices to establish clear, transparent and web-enabled processes for the engagement of the civil society to the entire process. Our desire is that this process will be open, inclusive and multistakeholder.
On behalf of the platform of Civil Society organizations working on digital cooperation,
I thank you for your attention.
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