Launch of an African Declaration on Internet Rights & Freedoms

4 September 2014 - A Workshop on Other in Istanbul, Turkey

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Full Session Transcript

 

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This is the output of the real-time captioning taken during the IGF 2014 Istanbul, Turkey, meetings.  Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the session, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
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 >> STEPHANIE MUCHAI:  Good evening, everyone.  Thank you for coming.  Welcome to the Launch of The an African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms.  My name is Stephanie Muchai.  I work for Article 19.  We are based in Nairobi, Kenya.  Thank you for making the time.

We will start with some housekeeping.  You are happy to know that the air conditioning is coming on very soon.  So please be patient.  So we are here to look at ‑‑ some of you may have seen up on the website, which I will give you a reference to at the end, the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms and we work together just building on the Windhoek Declaration, Declaration on Freedom of Expression.  And we had the African platform on access to information.  This is an initiative following those which aims to define and strengthen standards for the Internet in Africa.  And so we just want to galvanize a movement in support of an Internet environment which is accessible, it is locally relevant and it also supports development.  And so that's why we are here.

The launch is an opportunity to share with you the Declaration and to invite your endorsements which I will be calling for and build a wider conversation about how we can do that.  So we are really happy to have an interactive session.  And we just want to welcome you to that.  So to help me do that today we have some great panelists here with me.  They are all very active on policy on Internet Governance landscape, either through capacity building, convening stakeholders, training on Internet Governance issues and getting organisations and agencies involved in various Internet Governance platforms and just general valuable input in policy making both at the national, continental and international levels.

I will start on my extreme left with Mr. Edetaen Ojo who is known to most of you.  He is the executive director of Media Rights Agenda in Lagos, Nigeria.  He is the Chair of the board of directors ‑‑ sorry, of the Media Foundation for West Africa based in Ghana.  He also chairs the Working Group on the Africa platform on access to information.  And that has its Secretariat in Windhoek.  So welcome.

And next to him we have Mr. Getachew Engida who is the Deputy Director General at UNESCO.  His office is crafting strategic direction.  We are happy to have you here with us today.  Welcome.

On to the lovely ladies.  We have Ms. Towela Nyirenda Jere.  With the wrong ladies.  Okay.  Towela Nyirenda Jere is programme manager at the NEPAD Agency.  It is the planning and coordinating technical body of the African Union.  So welcome.  And we next to me is Anriette, whose last name I am not going to attempt.  APC which is the international network of organisations working with information and communications technologies to support social justice and development.  She is also currently a member of the Mult‑stakeholder Advisory Group of the Internet Governance Forum and serves on the board of global e‑schools and communities initiative in Ghana, Africa.

Welcome to all of you and thank you for coming.  I am going to start off with Ede who I will ask to give us an introductory session on to this, overview of where we are at with the Declaration and how it began and where we are at now and where we are headed and what is the significance and purpose of the Declaration.  Thank you.

>> EDETAEN OJO:  Thank you, Stephanie.  I am going to give a very quick overview of the process and the goals.  I understand I have seven minutes.  I may be rushing a bit.  So please pardon me.  Now in terms of motivation, what really kicked this off was an idea to develop a set of principles that would inform policy and legislative processes in Internet Rights and freedoms as well as Internet Governance in Africa.  Apart from informing we are also hoping that the Declaration would indeed inspire some countries to begin to look in that direction.  And we are hoping that the principle would have broad application at national, regional and, well, in Africa it can be a bit confusing.  We have subregional which are the subregions of Africa and regional levels.  And the major goal for the principles is to be endorsed by national Governments, by regional bodies and a range of actors and stakeholders.

The access to Internet is increasing very rapidly across the African continent, especially with the uptake on the mobile phone technology.  But sadly politically does seeking to adopt policies, regulations and laws appear to be learning or replicating the worst set of international practices.  Often bad laws are taken from other regions of the world and simply adapted in many countries in Africa without taking in to account local needs and local contexts.  And in addition during the policy and legislative processes we often have a situation where critical stakeholders are excluded from those processes and their interests are often not taken in to account.

So this idea is to try and provide some guidance for policy and legislative processes on Internet Rights, freedoms and governance.  And the process began with informal discussions among a small group of Civil Societies and subsequently a planning meeting was held in September of 2013.  And during that meeting a plan and strategies for actualizing the idea was outlined.  And this was followed in February 2014 by a larger two‑day meeting in Johannesburg in South Africa, and that meeting brought together key Civil Society members to agree on a broad outline for the Declaration.  There were quite a number of participating organisations.  I am not going to name all of them.  That would take quite a bit of time, but at that meeting a drafting team was constituted to develop an initial draft of the Declaration.  A task of that group would be to guide relevant and regional, international instruments and opinions of experts such as UN Special Rapporteur on promotion of the rights of freedom to expression and opinion who have done some significant work in this area.  And according to the initial draft of the Declaration was produced by a two‑person drafting team.  And that draft was subsequently subjected to comment from the entire drafting team which was fairly large.  And comments and inputs were received from other experts both from within Africa and internationally.

Based on those comments a revised draft of the Declaration was issued and launched for comment on the 8th July of 2014 in the public consultation phase of the process.  We created a dedicated website where this draft Declaration was available for public comment and the that process was on until the 4th of August.  The draft Declaration was also presented during a number of meetings.  One was the Africa Internet Governance which was held in Abidjan.  Subsequently presented and discussed at the meeting of the Alliance for Affordable Internet which took place in Lagos on the 15th of July.  Comments and inputs were actively sought from a number of stakeholders and experts through direct engagement and solicitation for inputs.  And such key stakeholder groups included representatives of Government, Government institutions, Civil Society organisations, whether national, regional or international, media associations and professional associations and union, academic institutions, NEPAD, African Commission on Human and People's Rights including the Commission of Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and access to information in Africa.

A draft meeting was subsequently again held in Johannesburg in August, on the 5th and 6th of August to discuss the various comments and suggestions coming from the public consultation and as on the other engagements and they were subsequently incorporated in to the Declaration.  The Declaration was also presented on and discussed at the expert meeting held in Johannesburg to address the public legislative related to access to content and connectivity, careful what I write and that meeting was held in the framework of the report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to Freedom of Expression.  It was convened by DEMO and APC.

Subsequent to that a further revised draft of the Declaration went through a series of internal consultations before it has been finalized to the current draft that I believe you all have before you.  And that is a draft that has been presented and hopefully would be endorsed by actors in the room.

In terms of next steps, there is a plan also to have a similar presentation of the Declaration at the Highway Africa conference which has been convened by the journalism department of Rhodes University on the 8th of September.  It is also expected to be represented at the meeting of African Union of Ministers which was to be taken place the end of this month but has now has been rescheduled to early 2015.  Subsequent to that there will be ongoing advocacy efforts to ensure endorsements and ensure wide dissemination.  That's a quick overview of the process so far.  And thank you.

>> STEPHANIE MUCHAI:  Okay.  That's very useful and that sets the tone for the discussion.  So we all have an idea what this is, where it is at and what the process has been to get us to this point and what we are doing in the short‑term future.  Just to pick up on what Ede said about prioritizing some Internet issues on the continent as well promoting various interest through this as well I think would lead me just to jump to Anriette just to take us through how we can use this Declaration, what are the practical benefits for the Declaration.  Thanks.

>> ANRIETTE ESTERHUYSEN:  Thank you very much, Stephanie.  As Ede explained it is not just to leave it hanging on as a document on the Web.  We do want to see this document either in full or possibly only in part but we want to see it adopted by Governments, by Intergovernmental Organisations, by other institutions that work in the Internet and that are involved in the Internet.  And our goal is to gain the status for this document that would then enable us to hold those actors accountable not just for ensuring that access to the Internet exists and ensure that access to the Internet is free.  And we might not be able to get there in one go.  So the document really has two purposes.  It can galvanize collaboration between different actors to get a conversation about Internet policy and regulation going that is focused on Human Rights and on development and on people in Africa.  Generally conversations about Internet and Internet for development.  If those conversations are happening adequately are happening at a level of how do we globalize our economies or, you know, how do we get the necessary broadband backbone.  How can we ‑‑ does Governmental infrastructure or does the private sector build the infrastructure.  And the conversations about the Internet in Africa just not adequately focused on real people and on real communities and on content creation and use and creating Internet access and then freeing that access in such a way that it can build more connected and more rights enabled societies.  We do also think it can be a sectorial application.

So, for example, as a tool for journalists and journalists have very restrictive environments in many parts of Africa.  And so we see this as a tool that they could use to lobby for access but also for the type of Freedom of Expression that they need and because we designed it and as it is drafted in such a way that it looks at all aspects of Internet use or many.  And it addresses different stakeholders, what we'd like to see is perhaps a coalition or a combined action between a group of journalists and a group of Internet service providers and maybe some other businesses.  And some women's rights organisations coming together and saying not having sufficient access and not having freedom on the access is not allowing us to actually write stories and raise issues about child marriage in X country.  So we really do see it as a tool that can bring different stakeholder groups together that can be used for advocacy before it is adopted, but then that can also be used not just to inform policy, but to also hold policymakers and Governments accountable.  So I think it is a rather unusual tool and may be very fitting to launch it in the IGF because we see it living in both the traditional world of improving and changing policy in regulatory environments, holding Governments accountable for protecting rights for ensuring that there is the access needed for those rights to be enjoyed and we see it leveling in a multi‑stakeholder universe, to create a better environment where access and Human Rights can really re‑enforce one another.

>> STEPHANIE MUCHAI:  Thank you.  That's very practical use and I know that there is different also ‑‑ all sorts of different people in the room.  And so I hope that you are able to pick up from that how this is useful to your work and not just stick to the traditional understanding and traditional community that this would usually appeal to.  I think it would be good now if we jump to Mr. Getachew Engida.  There is specific calls to section for UNESCO in the Declaration and also just thinking about Freedom of Expression, Freedom of Information and Education and just those areas of UNESCO's work how you see UNESCO engaging in this and what UNESCO's role is in furthering the objectives of this Declaration.

>> GETACHEW ENGIDA:  Thanks very much.  First of all, I will ‑‑ I have got a very important input from my team both here and in Paris.  First of all, I would like to congratulate everyone who has been involved in this Declaration for an excellent job done.  UNESCO sees this Declaration as a significant normative achievement for the African continent and perhaps beyond.  And this comes in the tradition of the, for example, where UNESCO has been involved in the 1993 Windhoek Declaration, the 2001 African charter on broadcasting, the 2002 Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa and the 2011 African platform on access to information.

So I'm especially pleased that your Declaration mirrors the principles of Internet universality identified by UNESCO.  We mean that there are for the Internet to be truly universal it should at least at the minimum utter some four basic principles.  The first principle is the promotion of human rights, such as Freedom of Expression and privacy and the free flow of information must be respected equally online and offline.  And the second principle is openness.  And openness is absolutely critical to maintain the universality of Internet.  And this should definitely be in addition to include accessibility and accessibility as have been discussed in various fora are being going beyond simply the wires and the pipes being inclusive of all parts of society.

And finally we strongly support the multi‑stakeholder participation.  In other words, we actually coined a term called Roam, not Rome as in Italy, to make it easier for people to remember that R stands for rights and O for openness and A for accessibility and M for multi‑stakeholder.  There will be a quiz at the end of this speech.

  (Laughter).

>> GETACHEW ENGIDA:  I suggest that you take notes.  So we are very pleased to see other important aspects highlighted which also parallel our work including looking at the role of Internet and intermediaries and importance of gender equality and citizen reporting open access to education resources online, as well as media and information literacy.  This Declaration is a direct contribution to UNESCO's work to build inclusive knowledge societies in Africa.  Now we need to translate this Declaration in to practice and ensure rights become a reality for all.

And we all know how challenging this is and will be.  The first step is to build new capacities and new literacies adapted to the information age.  This starts on the bench, as I say a number of times the bench of schools and it is one of the purpose of UNESCO's work, to promote media and information literacy including literacy rights and principles for the Internet as relevant to each regional context.  The second step is to combat the digital divide and to make sure that Internet becomes a driver and enabler for sustainable development in Africa and not an additional burden on top of the existing inequalities.  This calls for African Governments to adopt appropriate policies for connectivity for the integration of media and information literacy for schools, for promotion of local languages and local content online.  Third we need to make a reality of the right to use Freedom of Expression safely online as offline.  Here is a direct link to and this is the UN plan of action for the protection of journalists which UNESCO spearheads amongst many UN and nonUN partners.  In this spirit UNESCO welcomes the call to integrate the Declaration in our priority Africa strategies.  I should also tell you that UNESCO is also conducting a consultive study mandated by UNESCO's Member States.  This is on Internet related issues including access to information and knowledge, Freedom of Expression, privacy and the dimensional of the Information Society.

I am sure this Declaration will be a valuable input to our study and I invite all of you to participate in UNESCO's multi‑stakeholder conference to discuss the first draft of the Internet study.  And this will take ‑‑ and this is going to be the second quiz question ‑‑ on the 3rd and 4th March 2015 in Paris in UNESCO headquarters.  I am confident that these discussions will contribute to the Post‑2015 Development Agenda and the next phase of the World Summit Information Society to make sure that Internet Rights are integrated to development strategies.  And I commit UNESCO to make sure that the principles outlined in the Declaration will be included as priority Africa strategies and help make sure that this document actually gets translated in to action on the ground in Africa because Africa needs the Internet desperately not today not tomorrow but yesterday.  I thank you very much.

   (Applause.)

>> STEPHANIE MUCHAI:  Thank you very much for that, Mr. Getachew Engida.  Certainly enlightened to see the parallels with UNESCO's position and work as well.  We will certainly keep an eye out for the study and the conference as well.  And we agree the sustainability of Internet in Africa is a driver for development and space of enjoyment of rights is very, very important for the continent.  So now we would like to move to Towela.  I think through the various Forums at IGF, at least the ones that I have sat on we tended to demonize the Governments a lot.  We want to hear how the Governments can use this Declarations in their work and how can they plug in to this as well.  Thank you.

>> TOWELA NYIRENDA JERE:  Okay.  Thank you very much.  Good afternoon, everyone.  So I do join the previous speakers in commending the drafters of the Declaration for the work they have done.  I think my remarks will be very brief.  Firstly I think I want to echo the fact that the principles as outlined in the Declaration are universal ones and ones which none of us I think will argue with.  And I think that what's interesting for me is that they do echo some of the aspirations of African stakeholders that have been expressed, for instance, in the submissions that were made to NETmundial and then also in the various other processes that have been described previously.

So it is interesting to note that this is building on what has already come before.  While not wanting to speak for or on behalf of Governments because I am not mandated to do so, I would offer some comments in terms of how I perceive this and maybe perhaps how Governments would wish to actually perceive the Declaration.  To begin with I think I see this as a translation of prior conversations that we have been having around a number of issues, be it around Human Rights, around Internet Governance in to something that is tangible and concrete and something that we can actually reference.  And I think that that is how it should be perceived.  Because it presents the aspirations of various stakeholders in terms of how they perceive the kind of Internet they want and the kind of usage and the kinds of freedoms and the kinds of access that they would like to have on the Internet.  I think that makes it then obviously a valuable reference point for Governments as well because it tells Governments really what the expectations are from the citizens and stakeholders.

I think Governments would for me see this Declaration on the one hand as a way to actually check themselves in terms of how well they are doing as far as meeting some of these aspirations that have been expressed as far as Human Rights and freedoms online and offline.  But on the other hand, I think it also then serves as a guide that can be referenced to actually identify where the gaps are and what needs to actually be done.  I think lastly, too, that the outcome in terms of the Declaration is just as important as the process and I think that, you know, we have had a walkthrough in terms of the various consultations that have happened around the Declaration.  And I think it is also important to note that there is an intent to engage the Ministers of ICT and information around this issue.  And I think that that probably is maybe for me the best way to go about it in terms of making sure that Governments are able to have sufficient time to understand what is being expressed in the Declaration and have sufficient time to then see how they then take that Declaration, appropriate it and translate it in to the policies and actions that are being asked for.

So in that ‑‑ in conclusion I think I see this as part of an ongoing conversation that we are having in terms of Internet Governance and ICT policies, and I do look forward to seeing the endorsements that will come out of this.  Thank you.

>> STEPHANIE MUCHAI:  Thank you.  I think for NEPAD as a coordinating agency of Government those are really good insights.  I like what you say about Declaration would be a scorecard of sorts for Governments and that it presents the aspirations of the people that the Government can then use as guidelines and then just back to Mr. Getachew Engida's point about linking to the broader 2015 SDGs in terms of the value of Internet and what role that can play in that.

So thank you all for your contributions and I believe they are great to get some conversations started from the floor.  So I think I will open up ‑‑ just before I do, I believe you all have copies of the draft in front of you.  If you don't and you have some gadget with you you can get on africaninternetrights.org.  There are copies of the draft in Portuguese and in Arabic.  Unfortunately our French translation is not the updated draft.  It is not translation as the previous one.  But you can follow online if you don't have a paper copy of that.  Any questions or comments or clarifications from the floor, we welcome those now.

Yes, sir.

>> AUDIENCE:  Okay.  Great.  Thank you so much.  My name is Jeff.  I am coming from Uganda.  We work around issues of open net and accessibility as well as private and surveillance.  I don't necessarily have a question but I would like to congratulate the team for having really reached ‑‑ made us reach this far.  This is one of the things that we have been missing in Africa as much as the benchmark to measure the actions of Government.  The only appeal that I see is to convince our Governments we are all aware of what is happening back home.  Internet users, bloggers, journalists are being bashed all over and this place continues to shrink.  And they have enacted laws that really make it difficult for online expression.  Several of our bloggers in other countries are still languishing in jails and I know some NGO workers and employees have been declared personal nongrata.  They can't go to other parts of Africa.  How do we make African Government appreciate such importance of having a tool which is going to measure the openness, the accessibility, the security of Internet?  It is not a question of the people on the panel but for all of us.  Make it a working document.  And I also made the comment during the consultations from the appropriate and proportionate principles that it could ‑‑ this can be a working document.  We continue to update it and can give ‑‑ we can update it annually or after two years or give it a specific period of time or can really update it annually and make it fit in whatever situation.  So I thank you so much and that's it.

>> STEPHANIE MUCHAI:  Thank you, Jeff.  I think we might maybe take a couple of others and then I will start with the person right at the back and then come to you here.  I think that's the lady at the back.  Just on the right‑hand side.

>> GAYATHRY VENKITESWARAN:  Thank you.  My name is Gayathry Venkiteswaran.  I am from the Southeast Asian Press Alliance.  We have adopted a Declaration.  We don't have a Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression.  We don't have any mechanisms like that yet.  I wanted to maybe ask just to clarify or to explain the role of the Special Rapporteur in pushing this Declaration because I think it would be very important for us also to then take the case back to Southeast Asia to say we need a Freedom of Expression Rapporteur, but I wanted to get a bit more of the role that she plays in this Declaration.

>> STEPHANIE MUCHAI:  One more and go to this gentleman and then we will go to the panel, and then take another round of questions.

>> AUDIENCE:  Thank you very much.  My name is Moses from Kenya and my contribution to the African Declaration on Human Rights is about the proactiveness of the team around it.  When we declare ‑‑ it reads very well.  It recognizes some of the key ‑‑ some of the key charters that have been adopted around Internet security and offline Human Rights.  So transferring this to the online community it is very important.  But then maybe just one thing I note.  As this process was taking place the African Union was doing a Convention around so many other issues, cybersecurity, data protection, international cooperation around these things.  And importantly there are some issues especially on Human Rights, the Convention itself uses the word personal ‑‑ I mean public interest 13 times without a statutory Declaration.  I mean we don't know what that means.  So when you know get this down to the countries, it was adopted in late June during the 13th EU conference in Malibu.  And now it is in the domestication phase.  When the Convention goes down to the countries and are expected to drill laws from this Convention, don't you think we are giving, you know, it is a vulnerable point.  So many of these exploits that can be used by retrogressive Governments.

We should also unbox ourselves from just what we do and go out there and, you know, adopt or I mean be vigilant and all these things that are happening that will definitely affect because they cut across.  That cuts on the business community and we should also involve business communities in all these things because it is part and parcel of everything that we do.  So my point basically is let's unbox ourselves.  Let's adopt this and let's also follow up on what other people are doing so we can also have a full, encompassing environment.  Thank you very much.

>> STEPHANIE MUCHAI:  Thank you, Moses.  I think I will come back to the panel.  Jeff from Uganda his question was how do we make Governments appreciate the value of the Internet in a terrain where there is harassment of journalists, bloggers, retrogressive laws and how do we do and I think there was a suggestion of keeping this a continued working document.  I ask anyone to take that.  And I think Gayathry from ‑‑ if I am pronouncing that correctly ‑‑ from Southeast Asia, I will ask Anriette to comment on the role of the Special Rapporteur for the EU and what her role was but also maybe ask Mr. Getachew Engida to just give an overview maybe from a UN perspective also of a role of a Special Rapporteur that might help our colleague understand how she can better agitate for that.  And then perhaps Ede and Towela can comment on Conventions, the problems of domesticating them and make sure that implementation and knowledge awareness of what others are doing as well.  So perhaps maybe if any of the panelists want to take Jeff's question how we make Governments appreciate the value of the Internet and I know there is no silver bullet but perhaps some thoughts would be useful.

>> GETACHEW ENGIDA:  Thank you very much.  I guess you've answered the question, there is no silver bullet.  And if we actually get all the declarations through all the bureaucratic and the African Union adopts it tomorrow the world in Africa is not going to change the day after.  I think we need to be realistic as to the value of the Declaration on what it gives us related to the long‑term objective we have.  I would like to remind that you need to cast your mind back to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that came out some 66 years ago in 1948.  And you just look around you about the kind of challenges we are facing on Human Rights.  That means this is really the painful, long‑term process to educate all hands and change value systems in different parts of the world to make Governments accountable, citizens making Governments accountable.  Having said this obviously in places like Africa there are capacity issues, for which some of the international agencies like mine try to help Governments in building institutions, helping revise laws, introducing appropriate legislations to protect the safety of journalists, et cetera, et cetera.  And this is a kind of dialogue you hold with Government and non‑Governmental institutions as a multilateral agency.  So no magic bullets.  No silver bullet but it is a process.

We currently ‑‑ if we were to give you examples we work extensively with the Tunisian authorities to make sure the freedom of information flourishes starting from drafting of laws as well as the profession itself to make sure that the Democratic space respects Freedom of Expression.  Recent crisis that has been pulled back.  So there are activities which UN agencies do as Governments.  It is in the interest of the country and it is in the long‑term interest of the continent that we advance on the Democratic path.

The second question for which I am not entirely qualified to respond but from what I know of the roles of the Special Rapporteurs on Freedom of Expression and opinion and other Rapporteurs on special rights work with the Human Rights Council.  They provide reports.  They identify best practices, et cetera, et cetera, and similar to institutions like UNESCO they also work with Governments.  They have different mechanisms by which they make Governments accountable.  So Special Rapporteurs and I have experts in that area play a tremendous role in strengthening democratic institutions and advancing the cause of Human Rights.  I hope that deals with the two questions that was raised.

>> ANRIETTE ESTERHUYSEN:  Thanks Stephanie.  The Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, she is the Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression to the African Commission on People and Human Rights.  She has only been indirectly reporting because we didn't manage to get her to attend any of our meetings but maintain regular correspondence with her.  She has been supportive, but I think where she made a contribution is through the meeting of all the Special Rapporteurs to ‑‑ well, not all of them.  After Frank LaRue who was the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and opinion to the human rights delivered his historical report in 2011, there was a process that built on that which included a Resolution at the Human Rights Council by Member States but also included a joint statement from the Special Rapporteurs on, help me here, it was freedom of Association, Freedom of Expression.  I am not sure who else.

What happened was that several Special Rapporteurs and all the regional, they were all the regional Freedom of Expression Rapporteurs.  So Asia as we know we didn't hear that there wasn't one.  But it was Latin America and Africa and I am not sure where else but they endorsed the LaRue report.  And that was very influential and we have been able to use that.  So in that sense there's a link between the work of Frank LaRue at the Human Rights Council and the work of the Special Rapporteurs.

Just to respond to the question of how to make Governments adopt this, it is not just a silver bullet.  It is really, really hard.  But I think what we think can make a difference is to have the conversation and sometimes it has to be a friendly conversation and sometimes not so friendly conversation.  To have it take place in different places and with different people.  And I think if we can get businesses in Africa, for example, and people are working on telecommunications issues, infrastructure expansion, to start thinking about the Internet and Internet infrastructure as a driver for more Human Rights and more democracy.  And they have conversations with Government.  And if they can introduce Freedom of Expression and the ability to be free on the Internet in to their conversations with Governments I think that can make a difference.  So it is a combination of this incentivizing, trying to make the argument that ultimately yes, you are very fearful right now but there is not much ‑‑ there is more to gain from extending access and giving people the freedom to use that access.  This is not easy with a repressive regime, but, of course, that has to be part of the conversation.  And then I think also the not‑so‑friendly conversations.  Demand protest, trying to use mechanisms that exist.

One of the bodies that we have tried to work with is the African Commission on People and Human Rights.  My colleague went there and the traditional Human Rights organisations were actually quite uncertain about this whole conversation about Internet and Human Rights.  We need to get them on board as well because they have access to channels to the African Union.  It is using all these multiple channels.  Incentivizing present friendly conversations and putting pressure on people.

>> STEPHANIE MUCHAI:  Thank you for those practical tips.  I don't know Towela, you wanted to make a response?  Just a brief one.

>> TOWELA NYIRENDA JERE:  Thank you for the questions and comments from the floor.  I think the issue of how we do approach our Governments is one that maybe is a whole workshop in itself perhaps.  But I think maybe one had to also look at one in terms of the language that we use when we approach government.  How are we approaching Government and what is it that we are saying to Government and how are we saying it because that language is also going to determine perhaps the kind of reaction that you get to your message.  I also believe that it might be unrealistic to expect that Governments are going to adopt the Declaration wholesale and all at once.  I think one has to accept that this is a process that there will be certain things that Governments will definitely latch on to without reservation.  And there may be other things that Governments may actually want to take a bit more time to actually interrogate, understand and see how those things fit within the national context.  I think it is a process and I think the idea of this being a living document that is renewed and is refreshed and continues to evolve.  I think that is something that must be taken in to consideration.  But I think the important thing is to have those conversations be that they are difficult conversations or not.  I think that that is the process.

In terms of the cybersecurity Convention, I think what I would say on that one is that where we are at in that process right now it is really up to the individual countries now to make a determination in terms of how they want to proceed with the domestication.  I don't think that we are at a point where we can now get unless there is a specific call to actually change the major provisions within the Convention which again will require separate process, but in terms of the domestication where we are right now I think it is really a matter for the individual countries to actually determine if they have reservations against specific Articles in the Convention.  And they can choose to then ratify with specific reservations.  So I think there may be a process, if there are things that people feel may be need further discussion or interrogation, those are conversations that need to be happening at a national level with the relevant stakeholders.

>> STEPHANIE MUCHAI:  Thank you.  Just moving forward if I will seek your indulgence.  This session started a bit late and the other session was running quite late.  If you allow us 15 more minutes to get some more discussion in I think we have some remote participation questions from Donja.

>> DONJA GHOBADI:  We do have some remote participants.  There is one big hub in Africa.  How enforceable these beautiful principles are.  And the second one is for the entire panel which is which marketing and communication strategies, do they have to convince Governments and spread the documents through the African states.  Thank you.

>> STEPHANIE MUCHAI:  Thank you for those.  We can maybe take two off the floor and have the panel address those as well.  One here and Silimana at the back.

>> PETER BRUCK:  Hi.  My name is Peter Bruck.  I am the Chairman of the World Summit award which looks at best practice, e‑active content within the WSIS process.  I very much appreciate what the work is regarding the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms, but I wonder how one can actually extend this also a little bit more in to the political economy terms when one looks at what is really hindering a lot of African interactive content producers to deliver on what their contribution could be to the linguistic and cultural diversity.  And I think there are a number of issues which relate also to rights and freedoms in terms of people being able to do work and also use the Internet for their cultural production  and to do that in a sustained manner where they are not actually then hindered by corruption, by regulations and also by high pricing so that they are actually getting pushed out of the market, and the Internet becomes actually much more a downpipe for cultural domination other than a way of creative cultural expression.

>> STEPHANIE MUCHAI:  Thank you for that.  At the back if you could raise your hand so she can find you.

>> AUDIENCE:  Okay.  My name is Silimana and I work for the Media Foundation in Africa.  I want to commend the panel for wonderful presentations and to say that particularly inspired, first of all, to hear the inputs from UNESCO about the synergies in this Declaration and UNESCO's processes and planned activities for Africa and also the commitments made by the Deputy Director General to that effect about featuring this in their African programming.  But I also want to highlight the fact that I am particularly excited about the fact that this is an African initiative.  It is led by Africans and this is important.  Most of what you would encounter would be particularly because of the origins of the Internet.  When you talk about human rights as it relates to the Internet, the first thing you encounter where is this coming.  Is it an agenda coming from the west about Human Rights perspectives and it articulates Human Rights as universal as they should be, but I think it is important for me to also say as much as coming from Africa led by Africans it is important for us to highlight the fact that we would need support from folks outside Africa in your bilateral and multilateral platforms with Governments, you need to promote this particularly also on the FOC, Freedom Online Coalition.  We have three African Governments on that because the principles really highlight what about the FOC principles are.  And so just to commend the group and also to say this is an African led initiative but we would need support from all.  Thank you very much.

>> STEPHANIE MUCHAI:  Thank you for all those comments.  I think we will come back to the panel and we will start with the remote participation and we just welcome our remote participants.  Thank you for joining.  They want to know how enforceable are these principles and what do we have strategies to get Governments on board.  And the next one was about cultural production expression in a sustained manner.  And then just the good suggestion to not just engage regionally but to get the international support.  It is important to interact internationally as well.

>> ANRIETTE ESTERHUYSEN:  I will respond to the question about how enforceable are these rights.  We shouldn't think of Africa as a continent with no rights.  We do have some Human Rights mechanisms, our Governments have signed on to Human Rights agreements.  Much of what's in this Declaration is actually already enforceable.  The challenge is to get it enforced and that's the hard part, but I think we are starting from a basis and by drawing on existing agreements and existing Human Rights framework we start from a basis that we can work together to demand enforcement of many of those rights.  We are not starting in a vacuum.  It is not going to be easy.

>> STEPHANIE MUCHAI:  Thank you.  Any other comments?

>> GETACHEW ENGIDA:  Let me try to deal with the two comments or questions.  First, of course, as I say we congratulate all the people who have worked on this Declaration.  And it is not the first time that Africa has led the rest of the world in coming up with such principles.  And one can always refer to the Windhoek Declaration that gave us the World Press Freedom Day.  Yes, Africa needs help from partners outside.  And I am sure that many partners are continuing to support Africa.  And for this Declaration to be translated in to practice there are certain basic conditions that should happen.

In order to respect the rights on the Internet we obviously need to have Internet first.  And that by itself is a huge challenge and accessibility remains a significant barrier in here.  So the infrastructure side of the challenge needs to be dealt with.  Yes, the gentleman raised about the market imperfections and corruptions and how do we actually avoid all the pitfalls that we see in certain markets so that the culture and diversity languages, et cetera, flourish.  As we all know Africa is a continent of rich cultures and the cradle of humanity.  My own country Ethiopia as in the 92 million people with 80 languages and 200 dialects.  And imagine what kind of challenges that would actually give Government and the private sector trying to reach all citizens on the Internet.  It is a huge challenge.  But I don't believe quite frankly that Governments will have difficulty in getting Governments to accept such basic principles.  Challenge will always remain how do we actually translate that in to practice and that's where the hard work is.  Thank you.

>> STEPHANIE MUCHAI:  Sure.

>> EDETAEN OJO:  If I may make a couple of quick points.  I think it is important to stress that this is not intended to be a legally binding document.  It is a set of principles that should guide national governments, regional bodies in adopting legislation or their instruments.  What we have seen so far is that a lot of Governments are moving in to the area of law making.  But they really do not have proper guidance in an area where the issues are extremely complex.  So the whole idea is to provide some guidance with a set of principles that it should strive to comply with as they adopt legislation and policies.  And part of the document also articulates strategies for realising these principles in practice.  Once that happens, once we have those policies and laws that are consistent with these principles, then the mechanisms for enforcement of those laws would kick in.  And that's how we can begin to look at enforcement and that leads me to the other part, how do we convince our Governments.  I think that the responsibility lies with all of us, those of you who live and work in Africa.  Unfortunately we have Governments and we cannot do without them.

So we have to come up with ways of having conversations with them about what is the best way forward.  And I think that a Declaration like this gives us an instrument to make that kind of conversation possible.  If you were to go in to a conversation without any sort of agreed basis, it would be extremely challenging to you to say this is the right way, having a set of principles makes it possible for you to say look, there is this document that has been agreed upon and endorsed by A, B, C, D which provide benchmarks or minimum standards that you should try and comply with.  And I think I would make a task a lot easier in having discussions with Governments and trying to work out some agreement about what policies and legislation should look like.

And finally on the issue of cultural and linguistic diversity it is one of the areas that the document has sought to put a lot of emphasis on that.  Given the cultural and linguistic diversity in Africa Governments need to find ways to reflect that online.  True policy intervention or through assistance for development of facilities, equipment, software and such things that would facilitate local languages and cultures that would be reflected in the online space.

>> STEPHANIE MUCHAI:  Thank you for that.  I promised you all we would be out of here at 6:15.  So apologies, we are on 6:15 now.  Thank you for your participation and your comments.  So certainly take them on board.  We are still here for the rest of the evening and most of us part of tomorrow.  So please do approach us myself or ‑‑ and we also have Dixie in the room if you want to wave, Emular.  And we are all able to give you further information on that and then where ‑‑ would you like to stand?  Nnenna, everyone that has been involved in the Declaration thus far.  If I haven't called your name I am slightly short‑sided.  Thank you.

   (Applause.)

>> STEPHANIE MUCHAI:  Thank you.  We really appreciate the support that's come through for the Declaration from this room and also remotely.  And we appreciate also the comments on how to make the process better or things like that.  You have copies of the draft before you.  The website is africaninternetrights.org.  It is there I said in Portuguese and Arabic.  The French version needs to be updated because it is a previous draft.  You can endorse it individually or endorse it as an organisation.  We are putting a strong call out to you and your colleagues that you are able to disseminate it.  And let's get this endorsed as widely as possible.  As we said please don't limit yourself to Internet related ‑‑ traditional Internet related communities.  Get it out to communities that aren't traditionally in these discussions because the Internet is for everyone.  And it involved everyone as well.  So I'd just to thank the panel.  Thank you very much.  We note also UNESCO's commitment as well.  We really appreciate that and we look forward to collaborating.  So thank you to Mr. Getachew Engida and Ede and Towela and Anriette for sharing this time.  Maybe you can all help me appreciate them as they leave.

   (Applause.)

>> STEPHANIE MUCHAI:  We don't have any Champagne for the launch but I think we can declare it officially launched and enjoy the rest of the IGF.  Thank you.

   (Applause.)

(Session concluded at 1817)

 

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This is the output of the real-time captioning taken during the IGF 2014 Istanbul, Turkey, meetings.  Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the session, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
 

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