The 2014 Istanbul IGF came at one of the most significant moments in the IRPC’s contribution to IGF outcomes since the coalition began its work with the IRPC Charter of Human Rights and Principles for the Internet at the 2009 IGF meeting in Egypt. A very successful set of workshops in this week culminated with the IRPC meetings and workshops:
- The IRPC Charter of Human Rights and Principles for the Internet: Five Years On
- Human Rights for the Internet: From Principles to Action
- Anonymity by Design: Protection while Connecting
- Online Freedoms and Access to Information Online
The above meetings were all very well-attended and shed light on the increasing relevancy of the IRPC, and the outstanding progress made in advancing human rights principles in Internet governance, while looking towards the future to reinforce the coalition’s position and the role of Dynamic Coalitions in general. The first workshop, “IRPC Charter of Human Rights and Principles for the Internet: Five Years On” was a fitting occasion to highlight key achievements of the coalition:
- dissemination of the Charter, its publication in hard copy, and translation into an evergrowing number of languages (Spanish, Arabic, Turkish, German).
- the Charter’s critical role in guiding the drafting of Netmundial
- the Charter used to guide the policy draft of the New Zealand Greens’ Internet Rights and Freedoms Bill.
- The Charter’s as inspiration for the launch of an African Declaration of Internet Rights and Freedoms
The Internet Rights and Principles Coalition’s central mandate is to provide an authoritative framework for addressing the importance of human rights law and norms for the online environment and internet governance policy agendas. This work has been enhanced through collaboration, and funding support, from other coalitions and organizations such as Hivos International, Web We Want, Article 19, Amnesty International, Freedom House, Unesco, and the Pirate Party Movement of Turkey. The launch of the translation of the Charter into Turkish in time for the Istanbul IGF was a milestone in the implementation of the IRPC Charter through collaborative work with translation teams around the world. The success of the IRPC Charter’s implementation in this regard underscores the importance of the IGF and its Dynamic Coalition constituency.
We would like to make a few organisational points in relation to the Istanbul meeting:
- The final programme looked good and worked well, however, the IGF website can be more up to date with status of workshops before the programme is released. There was very late notification of acceptance of one of our human rights panels which led to there being a lack of time to resubmit revisions. Also, this panel was merged with another submission at late notice and this led to organisational difficulties. We are happy with the tougher criteria in relation to proposal submissions. The eventual feedback from the Multistakeholder Advisory Group was, however, at times inaccurate and asked for things not relevant to the proposal, and the limit on Dynamic Coalition submissions should be communicated at an earlier point.
- We support an initiative in which the Secretariat creates a page for newcomers highlighting the basic criteria for any workshop or session submission with information on, for example, representativeness, gender, geography, links to others etc. During and after the meeting it is essential that the full version of a workshop is fully accessible, either as a transcript or on Youtube. This year some newcomers from civil society were deeply concerned about apparent censorship of workshops covering human rights issues. To respond to these concerns we suggest:
- a simple mechanism for improving the subtitles to the video so they match what is said, rather than what was noted in real time which is quite errorprone.
- the development of a proposal for ensuring persistence of the Youtube videos in the event that Youtube decides not to keep them readily available.
- On Remote Participation: At times the wi-fi connection in the conference rooms was weak and unstable. This led to difficulties for those DC members who were live tweeting or live blogging and, more importantly for the remote participants’ access. This is an essential tool to disseminate the discussions in real time and we need the technology to support this.
- If we could note that in all of our human rights sessions the hosts managed the console to poor effect i.e. not allowing our moderators access or talking loudly. We request that the IGF allows session organisers to have moderator access to the remote participation console as a rule and that this is clear to the host country.
As a Dynamic Coalition we support the strengthening of the IGF and, in particular, ensuring that the DCs are in a position to guide critical dialogue and to achieve their aims, whether individual or collaborative. For instance, we would support a move to include Dynamic Coalition chairs or contact persons in the MAG and IGF Secretariat communications around the program. At present they are not.
There is, therefore, a need for better channels of communication to support Dynamic Coalitions in their active shaping of the agenda and formative contribution to the IGF outcomes during the annual meetings and intersessionals. We would like to draw attention to the joint statement submitted to the stocktaking plenary on the need to strengthen and clarify the roles and responsibilities of the Dynamic Coalitions.
The IGF Dynamic Coalitions represent a diverse, expert and committed community; strategically strengthening their profile will, in turn, increase the standing, influence and reach of the IGF as a whole at this crucial moment in Internet governance.