Internet University explored at the 10th IGF

“The Internet Universality framework contributes to the achievement of the 2030 agenda in formulating a holistic, integrated and synergetic approach towards ICTs and the Internet”, the Director of the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science in Latin America and the Caribbean, Lidia Brito, has stated.

Her message was delivered at the ongoing 10th Internet Governance Forum taking place in João Pessoa, Brazil, from 10 to 13 November 2015, during her speech at the High Level Leaders Meeting on 10 November.

Ms Brito also addressed the IGF main session "Internet economy and sustainable development", where she motivated that the Sustainable Development Goal 16.10. on public access to information could be supported by the concept of Internet Universality.

Internet Universality is predicated on the development of the Internet according to four principles: (i) that the Internet is human Rights-based, (ii) Open, (iii) Accessible to all, and (iv) nurtured by Multi-stakeholder participation (summarized with acronym R.O.A.M.).

Discussion about Internet Universality at IGF also highlighted the value of further developing indicators to assess the Internet ecosystem, which is very much in line with the outcome document of the Connecting the Dots Conference, Internet Universality concept and recent decisions of the Intergovernmental Programme for the Development of Communication.

During the WSIS+10 review main session at the 10th IGF, UNESCO representative Ms Xianhong Hu highlighted that Internet Universality resonates with the Geneva Declaration of Principles and the Tunis Commitment. She noted that It recognised the universality, indivisibility, interdependence and interrelation of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the rights to privacy, participation in culture, education, gender equality, association, security of person and development.

Ms Hu also suggested that the link to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) should be strengthened in the draft WSIS Outcome Document and make specific reference to SDG 16.10, which aims to “ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements.”

The positive responses to Internet Universality in Brazil mirrored discussions taking place at the Communication and Information Commission of the 38th General Conference of UNESCO. The Commission on Wednesday recommended the Internet Universality concept for endorsement by the full 195 Member States next week.

Earlier, at an IGF pre-event on the “Social Role of Communications and Strengthening Freedom of Expression”, jointly organized by the Brazilian Ministries of Culture and Communication, UNESCO shared its work on promoting press freedom and freedom of expression online and off-line, as well as media and information literacy.    

Ms Brito also noted there that UNESCO’s media development indicators were “a set of worldwide accepted standards to assess the media ecosystem and, therefore, can be taken as a useful tool to assist governments that are undertaking regulatory reform.”

In his intervention, Mr Guilherme Canela, UNESCO Regional Adviser on Communication and Information, highlighted key challenges underlined by the UNESCO’s 2014 report World Trends Report on Freedom of Expression and Media Development: Regional overview of Latin American and the Caribbean. He said the report was an important road map for debates on media regulation within the regional context.

The challenges relate to a) the need for independent regulators; b) the high concentration of media ownership; c) the need for expanding media pluralism via public service broadcasters and community media; and d) the need for better regulation of governmental advertising.

UNESCO at IGF also organized a workshop on balancing transparency and privacy and gave interventions at workshops on hate speech, encryption, ethics and privacy, civil society's participation, and cyber abuse of women.

The Organization’s delegation also held bilateral meetings with civil society organizations, academics, the private sector, and representatives of governments and multilateral organizations, on a wide range of topics.