Hivos celebrates the completion of MENA’s first advanced online Internet Governance Capacity Building Programme (IGCBP)  

After ten weeks of enlightening lectures, heated discussions, inspiring online chats and challenging assignments, the advanced course on Internet Governance (IG) organised by Hivos successfully completed its first edition. This capacity-building training was done in partnership with DiploFoundation and the Association for Progressive Communications (APC). DiploFoundation provided the e-learning platform, existing curriculum on IG, and staff to facilitate the participants’ learning. APC collaborated by providing expertise on human rights components and modules, as well as country-specific resource material and case studies relevant to the MENA region. More than 90 candidates submitted applications for this programme. Among those, 30 participants (16 women and 14 men) were selected to complete this online advanced course—10 of whom had also participated in the earlier foundational course, “Basic Internet Governance.” The countries of origin of the participants included: Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, and Yemen.

Basic Internet Governance” introduced IG policy and included infrastructure and standardisation issues, legal, economic, socio-cultural, and development aspects, and a section on Internet Governance processes and actors. The advanced course focused on the MENA region while integrating human rights into IG topics. It aimed at training prospective leaders from various sectors—mainly from civil society—on Internet Governance issues and equipping them with the needed skills and “toolkits” to address IG issues at national and regional levels. This advanced course was based on a collaborative learning approach and expected participants to share their knowledge and experience through discussions and interaction within the classroom. The programme aimed to link participants to the situations in their respective countries in order for them to influence local and regional policies. The thematic areas covered during the advanced course included: history of the Internet, infrastructure and critical Internet resources, cyber-security (and its challenges) as well as human rights. Special attention was paid to the right to freedom of expression, access to information, and the right to privacy—going beyond the definition of these rights and exploring how they are protected and understood in different regions, cultural and political contexts, as well as how they are threatened by different actors (governments, corporations, and third parties). Important questions of restrictions and balance between these and other rights were also addressed.

An assessment of the course is currently underway in order to capture the strongest components of the programme, make improvements, and continue to offer a top-notch, competitive programme in the future. Preliminary feedback from participants is already being included and will further enhance the programme. These changes will include: smaller groups to ensure more personalised interactions; integration of the programme with complementary components (such as fellowships for regional or global events, or on-site practical trainings); more customised content to integrate more relevant case studies from the region; and new educational platforms for better interaction.
 
The content of this edition’s modules will continue to be available for participants to consult and access on the platform in the future. In addition, selected papers dealing with the right to anonymity, and personal data protection and privacy laws will be published soon in the blog section of the IGMENA website.

All participants are invited to take part in the monthly live debates IGMENA is organising for the general public, addressing topics on IG and related issues. More information will be available soon for everyone to be able to join and “Hangout with IGMENA”.