Internet Governance high level training: A pre-event to the Freedom Online Conference in Tunisia  

During the 3rd Freedom Online Conference: Joint Action for Free Expression on the Internet convened in Tunisia on 17-18 June 2013, Hivos in cooperation with DiploFoundation (Diplo) and Tunisian Internet Agency (ATI) organised a high level training on Internet Governance. The session was held on 16 June 2013 as a pre-event to the conference and focused mainly on emerging policy processes related to Internet Governance.
  • Hanane Boujemi, Coordinator of Internet Governance in the MENA Region Programme, Hivos
  • Matthew Shears, Director of Global Internet Policy and Human Rights, Center for Democracy and Technology
  • Rafik Damak, Internet Governance Youth Coalition
  • Vladimir Radunovic, DiploFoundation

Vladimir Radunovic gave an introduction to Internet Governance with especial focus on effective mechanisms to develop and strengthen capacities of institutions involved with decision-making and policy-shaping. The presentation brought up a wide range of topics including: online freedoms, rights and principles, local content and services, jurisdiction and territoriality, critical infrastructure and resources, economic models, and cyber-security, privacy and data-protection. Moreover, Diplo’s Internet Governance Capacity Building Programme (IGCBP) was showcased as an annual capacity building training programme that trained since its inception many professionals from different parts of the world.

A presentation by Matthew Shears looked at openness, human rights and multistakeholderism. It shed the light on the significance of involving and empowering different stakeholders; that vary from enabling constructive engagement and diversity of views to greater range of expertise, experience and best practice. The Internet Governance Forum was introduced as an example of mutlistakeholderism on the international level. Furthermore, the presentation underpinned multistakeholder policy and governance processes owing to the benefits they bring to policy-makers, national stakeholders and national development as a whole.

The Arab Internet Governance process was discussed by Hanane Boujemi in a presentation that tackled the history, actors and processes of establishing the Arab Internet Governance Forum as well as the issues at stake. A special focus was given to the role of governments being an important stakeholder in the Internet Governance process. The presentation highlighted also the challenges of reinforcing online human rights in the region. In the same vein, Hivos’ Internet Governance and Policy: Anchoring and Safeguarding Internet Openness training was presented as an initiative to develop the capacity of different stakeholders from MENA on Internet Governance.

Rafik Damak delivered a country focused presentation that introduced the Internet Governance report about Tunisia outlining key facts on top of them embracing high principles of Freedom of Expression on the Internet through joining the Freedom Online Coalition and signing the UN Human Rights Council resolution. Additionally, the presentation questioned whether Tunisia will move from principles toward implementation and discussed several recommendations included in the report. The floor was also opened for participants to provide feedback and ask questions. Some concerns were raised about the lack of strategy, absence of coordination and consultation of all parties concerned, and the responsibility of implementation and if it is a shared responsibility or government accountability.

The session, which targeted Ministers, Parliamentarians, high officials and corporate and civil society leaders, has also explored the possibility of conducting joint capacity building programmes in the MENA region as well as setting up regional and global partnerships.