The Riga Global Meeting of Experts on the Ethical Aspects of Information Society concluded its two days of work on Thursday 17th October with the adoption of a set of guidelines on ethics in the information society.
The meeting brought together global experts to address the complexities of Infoethics which increasingly are intertwined with our daily lives. This international event was organized by UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Information for All Programme (IFAP), in cooperation with the Government of Latvia through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development, and the Latvian National Commission for UNESCO.
According to Dr Andrejs Vasiljev, Chair of the IFAP Working Group on Information Ethics, “this was a very successful event with a highly stimulating debate on a wide range of ethical challenges in the information society. The discussions reflected the diverse and urgent needs that Internet users are facing. We must now use the momentum created in Riga to share these guidelines and launch related national and regional projects.”
The guidelines adopted by the Meeting reflect the growing consensus that has emerged from numerous regional and international forums on the ethical dimensions of the information society. They have also benefitted from the insights and lessons gained from a variety of national and transnational experiences and research activities.
The guidelines re-echo the importance of enhancing equitable access and inclusive multi-stakeholder processes, respect for freedom of expression and all human rights both online and off-line. They also link the ethical dimensions of the information society to the issues of social and economic inclusion, peace and security as well as environmental sustainability thereby highlighting their relevance to the international development goals.
The Meeting also served to refine the “Handbook on Information Ethics for Policy-makers”. This resource is being developed to enable policy-makers to respond in a more timely and informed manner to technological innovations and their social impacts.
It is expected that the guidelines and handbook will assist in helping to translate the societal values of the information age into principles and practices that guide individuals in their daily lives. IFAP will be supporting efforts to make the guidelines and the handbook widely available in various languages.
The intergovernmental Information for All Programme was established in 2001 to provide a platform for international policy discussions and guidelines for action in the area of access to information and knowledge and to support Member States in the development of national information policy and strategy frameworks.