» UNESCO urges Internet stakeholders to embrace the 2030 sustainable development agenda
10.06.2016 - Communication & Information Sector

UNESCO urges Internet stakeholders to embrace the 2030 sustainable development agenda

Academic Mattias Kettemann interviews UNESCO’s Frank la Rue at Eurodig. © UNESCO

Frank la Rue, Assistant Director General (ADG) of UNESCO for Communication and Information, highlighted synergies between the Internet and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), this week in four interventions at the Eurodig conference in Brussels, Belgium.

Eurodig is the European Internet Governance Forum, and its 2016 conference was titled “Embracing the digital (r)evolution”.

Speaking at the opening session, the ADG noted: “The SDGs are relevant to all continents; for example, there are problems everywhere of poverty, gender inequality and climate change”.  

He drew the conference delegates’ attention to SDG 16.10, which calls for “public access to information and fundamental freedoms”. This target is essential to achieving all other goals of sustainable development, said the ADG.

The Internet is key to “public access to information”, he affirmed, stressing that this also depends on online respect for Human Rights, Openness, Accessibility and Multi-stakeholder participation – UNESCO’s ROAM principles for the Internet.

Mr La Rue explained further that a ROAM-based Internet could align the aims of the 2030 Development Agenda with that of the World Summit on the Information Society.

In a session about UNESCO’s work, the ADG described UNESCO’s plans to build on the 2016 Connecting-the-dots conference including a study on good practices for multi-stakeholder decision-making in areas that impact on the Internet.

He also alerted delegates about the forthcoming conference jointly hosted with the Government of Quebec, Canada, which would tackle the issues of online incitement to violence.

Mr La Rue also took part in a “High Level Group on Internet Governance” discussion as well as a session “Internet intermediaries and human rights – between coopted law enforcement and human rights protection”.

He underlined the UN guiding principles on business and human rights, arguing that while Internet companies had an ethical role to play, this should not substitute for the responsibility of states to protect human rights in terms of international law.  

A code of conduct by Internet companies was welcome, but it should not be a substitute for state responsibility, and nor should it be made outside of transparent multi-stakeholder processes, said the UNESCO ADG.

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