UNESCO organized, in collaboration with the Center for Studies on Freedom of Expression (CELE), ISOC and Facebook, during the Internet Governance Forum a session entitled “Rule of Law as a key concept in the digital ecosystem” on 28 November 2019, in Berlin, Germany, that was attended by over 100 people.
The workshop highlighted the importance of the digital ecosystem, taking into account the role of judicial operators and the rule of law as key elements of an enabling environment for data governance and safety policies that are aligned with international human rights standards. The debate involved high-level judicial operators from Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America and other stakeholders concerned with internet governance to address why and how the rule of law is a crucial concept when critical policies related to data governance and safety issues are being designed and implemented.
“Judicial operators, judges, prosecutors, lawyers, are and will be more and more involved in the decision‑making process of protecting digital rights and solving inevitable disputes that take place in the digital arena” said Mr Cedric Wachholz, head of UNESCO’s delegation to IGF and Chief of Section for ICT at UNESCO.
Moderated by Mr Guilherme Canela from UNESCO, the session was built on the model of a talk-show to encourage exchange between participants. The session included the participation of Mr Darian Pavli, a judge at the European Court of Human Rights; Mr Edward Asante, President of the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice covering 15 West African countries; Ms Adlin Abdul Majid, a Malaysian lawyer and expert on Internet issues; Mr André Gustavo Corrêa de Andrade, a judge at the Court of Appeals of Rio de Janeiro; and representatives of civil society organizations and the private sector who offered their views on some key elements presented by the judicial operators.
The session facilitated exchanges of jurisprudence related to Internet issues, and how international human rights principles are being applied by judicial systems to address questions in the digital sphere such as intermediary liability, hate speech, disinformation, child protection and data privacy. Particular attention was given to identifying and exchanging practices and jurisprudence in line with international standards related to digital challenges, and how the judicial system could be involved in the Internet Governance discussions.
The session, which is part of UNESCO's Judges Initiative through which more than 15,000 judicial operators were trained on freedom of expression, access to information and safety of journalists, formed a rare opportunity to involve judicial operators in the Internet governance debates and paved the way for south-south and north-south cooperation among existing networks of judicial operators on Internet governance issues.