UNESCO is now seeking feedback from stakeholders on how it should design and implement a comprehensive study of Internet-related issues that will present options for future actions within its mandate. Comments are requested before 30 April, after which the draft concept paper and questions will be finalized, and the research will commence.
This wide-ranging Internet study arises from a resolution agreed by UNESCO’s 195 Member States during the Organization’s General Conference in November 2013.
By mandate of Resolution 52 of UNESCO’s 37th General Conference in 2013, the study is required to cover the fields of (i) Access to information and knowledge, (ii) Freedom of expression, (iii) Privacy, and (iv) Ethical dimensions of the information society, and also explore possible options for future actions. The results will inform the Organization’s reporting to the 38thGeneral Conference in 2015.
The resolution requires that the study be done through an inclusive multi-stakeholder process which includes governments, private sector, civil society, international organizations and the technical community.
These consultations will be done through an online questionnaire, meetings with UNESCO Member States, and UNESCO participation in events such as the Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance (NETmundial), WSIS High Level Review Events, the Internet Governance Forum, the Freedom Online Conference, and the Stockholm Internet Forum.
The draft concept paper for the study, proposed by UNESCO’s Secretariat, outlines how the fields can be conceptualized and presents related research questions. The guiding framework is the draft concept of “Internet Universality”. By summarizing core Internet principles relevant to UNESCO’s mandate and fields of competence, the notion of “Internet universality” highlights four R-O-A-M principles: (i) that the Internet should be Human Rights-based (ii) “Open”, (iii) “Accessible to All”, and (iv) nurtured by Multi-stakeholder Participation. As part of the consultation, feedback is also sought on this draft concept.