» UNESCO’s Internet governance work on freedom of expression, multilingualism, local content and ethics in high ...
09.11.2012 - Communication & Information Sector

UNESCO’s Internet governance work on freedom of expression, multilingualism, local content and ethics in high demand at 7th Internet Governance Forum in Baku

Jānis Kārkliņš, UNESCO's Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, addresses the IGF plenary opening session - © UNESCO/Cédric Wachholz

The seventh meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) closes today in Baku, Azerbaijan. UNESCO has played a large role in this year’s meeting, whose theme is “Internet Governance for Sustainable Human, Economic and Social Development”.

“UNESCO has been at the forefront of efforts to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image, freedom of expression, and cultural and linguistic diversity, both offline and online,” said Mr Jānis Karklins, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, who led the Organization’s delegation.

UNESCO used the IGF meeting as an opportunity to launch the 2012 EURid/UNESCO World Report on IDN Deployment, as well as the Global survey on Internet privacy and freedom of expression.

The Organization’s five (co-)organized sessions at the IGF meeting attracted more than 300 participants in total.

In their joint workshop "EURid/UNESCO World Report on IDN Deployment 2012 – opportunities and challenges associated with IDNs and online multilingualism", UNESCO and the .eu registry organization EURid shared their latest report on the global deployment of Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs). The report analyzes the statistics of IDN registration in a dozen countries and identifies two groups of reasons for the relatively slow uptake of registrations of internationalized domain names. Among the technical challenges worth mentioning is the insufficient support of IDNs by web browsers or popular social networks, as well as the absence of an IDN e-mail protocol, which would allow fully multi-lingual e-mail functionality. The registration ecosystem – country code domain registration policies and the existence of a wide registrants’ network – facilitate IDN deployment. Participants discussed the findings of the report and the need to bring these results to the attention of the respective communities.

The "Information Ethics and Internet Governance - Identity, design and preservation" session examined information ethics that have an impact on Internet governance from technological, legal and socio-cultural perspectives. The areas of identity, design and digital preservation were highlighted in the session, which was organized in cooperation with UNESCO’s Information for All Programme (IFAP).

The "Internet privacy and freedom of expression: UNESCO launches a global survey on legal frameworks" session attracted more than 100 participants. The authors of the newly-launched UNESCO study presented the findings of their global research, which aimed at mapping the issues in the current regulatory landscape with regard to Internet privacy, and to provide an overview of legal protection, self-regulatory guidelines, challenges, and case studies relating to the topic.

The Joint Open Forum entitled “Safety of online media actors: as a precondition for media pluralism and freedom of expression” focused on the increasing dangers that journalists, bloggers and citizen journalists face when expressing themselves over the Internet. Panelists analyzed the role of governments, international organizations, media, civil society practitioners, and corporations;  proposing concrete actions toward ensuring the full protection of the fundamental right of freedom expression online. The session was co-hosted by UNESCO and the European Broadcasting Union, the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

The UNESCO Open Forum provided an overall presentation on the Organization’s Internet-related activities, such as the World Report on IDN Deployment, the “Memory of the World in the Digital age: Digitization and Preservation” conference held in Vancouver, Canada in September 2012, as well as the forthcoming Internet event to be held on 26 February 2013 in UNESCO headquarters in Paris, on the occasion of the first multi-stakeholder WSIS+10 review meeting. The modalities for the preparation of the 2013 WSIS+10 review conference were also presented.

Transcripts of the IGF meeting discussions are available on the IGF website.

UNESCO will host the next IGF Open Consultations and Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG) meetings from 28 February to 1 March 2013 at its Headquarters in Paris, immediately following the WSIS+10 review meeting.

About UNESCO and Internet governance

UNESCO acknowledges the potential of the Internet for fostering sustainable human development and building more democratic societies, and also for enhancing the free flow of information and ideas throughout the world. The Organization has consistently stressed that the mechanisms of Internet governance should be based on the principles of openness, privacy and diversity, encompassing universal access, interoperability, freedom of expression and measures to resist any attempt to censor content. Internet governance should also promote cultural and linguistic diversity, as stated in the “Recommendation concerning the Promotion and Use of Multilingualism and Universal Access to Cyberspace”.

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