[FoME] Can the UN Roadmap for Digital Cooperation succeed?

Christoph Dietz Christoph.Dietz at CAMECO.ORG
Do Jul 9 12:07:29 CEST 2020

>>> Global Partners Digital info at gp-digital.org> 08.07.2020 17:14 >>>
The UN’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation: can it succeed?

In June, the UN Secretary General published their long awaited Roadmap
for Digital Cooperation.

The Roadmap promises to operationalise the recommendations from last
year’s High Level Panel report
 fter an extended period of discussion and negotiation among various
multistakeholder roundtables. 

On paper, there’s plenty to welcome in it. As our friends at Chatham
 and Access Now
 have observed, it’s a highly ambitious framework (“universal
connectivity by 2030” and “digital inclusion for all groups” are just
two of its eight aims). Importantly, it also centres and promotes a
multistakeholder and human rights-based approach to digital cooperation.
That these values are so central to the framework is clearly
significant, and encouraging.

How the Roadmap will be implemented in practice is less clear. We know
that it will involve several new alliances and initiatives—including a
multistakeholder digital inclusion coalition and a multistakeholder
advisory body on artificial intelligence—and that a new “tech envoy”
(appointed in 2021) will support it.

However, the precise role of these new entities—and how they will be
selected—has not been explained; nor do we know the fate of the
multistakeholder roundtables which have played such an important role in
the post-High Level Report discussions. Will these roundtables be
involved in the implementation of the Roadmap—or simply dissolved? Can
member states get involved in Roadmap-related initiatives? And how will
the UN ensure member states actually implement the recommendations which
concern them? 

A more fundamental question: can the Roadmap’s multistakeholder and
human-rights approach be implemented at the UN? Our experience engaging
at the First Committee
 suggests it’s going to be a hard sell—with states largely split on the
question of whether non-governmental stakeholders should be involved in
discussions around digital technology. For the same reason, it’s hard to
be optimistic about stakeholder inclusion in the upcoming discussions at
the Third Committee
 on a new cybercrime convention.

A lot of challenges, then—and many questions to be answered. But the
mere existence of the Roadmap, and the fact that a multistakeholder,
rights-based approach to internet governance is being championed at the
UN, is hopeful. We’ll be following its progress closely. 

Notes One of the aforementioned multistakeholder roundtables (chaired
by Germany and the UAE, tasked with taking forward the discussion on
different models for digital cooperation) is due to release a more
detailed “options” paper in July. It’s expected that reform to the
Internet Governance Forum will play a key part.


Christoph Dietz
Postfach 10 21 04 
D-52021 Aachen, Germany
Tel.: 0049 - 241 - 70 13 12 14
Fax: 0049 - 241 - 70 13 12 33
christoph.dietz at cameco.org
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