EuroDIG Consultation on the UN Global Digital Compact (GDC)

We have drafted a list of guiding questions (update om 6 June 2024. Please leave your comments on the guiding questions below.
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1. Recent changes to the draft text of the Global Digital Compact

Following the consultations on the zero draft of the GDC held in April 2024, there have been some format and text changes in a revised version of the draft (Rev.1) published on 15 May 2024 which is accessible at: https://www.un.org/techenvoy/sites/www.un.org.techenvoy/files/Global_Digital_Compact_Rev_1.pdf
These changes include:
i. The addition of two principles on equitable distribution of the benefits of digital cooperation, and on interoperability between digital systems and approaches to governance. This has increased the number of GDC principles from 10 to 12.
ii. Amendment of the scope in the heading of Objective 3 to include respect for, protection and promotion of human rights.
iii. Stronger language on support (including financial) for the Internet Governance Forum “as the central forum for multistakeholder discussion on public policy issues relating to the Internet” and for efforts to increase the diversity of participation in the IGF (Rev.1 paragraphs 27 and 28(b)).
iv. Change in the wording of Objective 5 from “Governing emerging technologies….” to “Enhance international governance of emerging technologies…..” There are also significant changes to the text concerning governance proposals for AI and the role of the UN. For example, there is no longer the ambition for the UN to “establish the foundations for international governance of AI” (paragraph 48 of the zero draft). This has been replaced by the UN supporting “ways that complement international, regional, national industry efforts” and help capacity building “to access, develop, use and govern AI systems and emerging technologies” (Rev.1 paragraph 52). There remains the commitment to establish a new UN body but the title of this body has been amended so that it is no longer limited solely to AI: the International Scientific Panel on AI and Emerging Technologies (Rev.1 paragraph 53(a)). The proposal to hold an annual global dialogue on AI governance has apparently been dropped from the text (paragraph 49(b) of the zero draft).
v. All the commitments to actions in the revised text are now linked to specific Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

2. Conduct of GDC progress reviews, monitoring and reporting

vi. Much attention has been paid by stakeholders to the Follow up and review section of the Global Digital Compact and in particular the potential roles of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) and the WSIS Forum in the follow up phase. The UN drafting team has revised its proposals following the consultations on the zero draft. The Rev.1 text recognises in stronger terms than previously how the WSIS processes provide the basis to “advance implementation” of GDC commitments and actions. In particular, there is now specific reference to “leveraging the multistakeholder platform provided by the annual WSIS Forum” which is coordinated and hosted primarily by the ITU with the support of the other UN agencies that lead on the various WSIS action lines (Rev.1 paragraph 66).
vii The role of the IGF in the GDC follow up phase is referred to separately in the text (Rev.1 paragraph 73) as “amplifying the Compact’s purpose and objectives…..through its national and regional networks” (i.e. the 170+ national and regional IGFs such as EuroDIG the existence of which had not been acknowledged in the previous zero draft). The zero draft of the GDC described the role of the IGF as advancing only the commitments relating to Internet governance (paragraph 57 of the zero draft). This text revision appears therefore to extend the role of the IGF eco-system more widely across the scope of the Compact. Furthermore, the IGF is also requested to establish an annual policy discussion track “to facilitate the contribution of all stakeholders to the delivery of the Compact’s commitments and actions” (Rev.1 paragraph 73).
viii. The conduct of periodic progress reviews will involve not only the IGF and the WSIS Forum but also several UN bodies, including:
• The High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (the HLPF: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/hlpf ) and the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC: https://ecosoc.un.org/en ) will have the role of “monitoring and reviewing progress of the Compact, particularly as it relates to closing digital divides and accelerating achievement of the SDGs” (Rev.1 paragraph 74).
• Human Rights Council (OHCHR: https://www.ohchr.org/en/hrbodies/hrc/home) will be tasked with tracking progress “to foster an inclusive, open, safe and secure digital space for all” (Rev.1 paragraph 74).
ix. Effective coordination within the UN system will therefore be necessary and the proposed solution for this is to establish an office within the UN’s Secretariat as an extension of the current role of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Technology (Rev.1 paragraph 70).
x. Regarding periodic reviews to assess the progress in meeting the GDC’s objectives and to identify emerging opportunities and challenges, the original proposal for the UN General Assembly was to convene a High-Level Review of the Global Digital Compact every two years (paragraph 65 of the zero draft). This has been amended in Rev.1 to refer to a review meeting to be held during the 81st session of the UN General Assembly in September 2026. This will involve “the participation of all relevant stakeholders, including the CSTD (the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development which oversees the implementation of the WSIS outcomes), IGF and WSIS Action Line Facilitators” (i.e. the UN agencies, including the ITU, UNDP and UNESCO (Rev.1 paragraph 76).
xi. An annual report of “progress, key trends and developments in the implementation of the Compact” will be prepared by the UN Secretary-General, drawing on the reviews of the HLPF, ECOSOC and the OHCHR. Presumably contributions to the annual report will also be requested from the IGF and the WSIS Forum though this is not stated (Rev.1 paragraph 75).
Mark Carvell

Guiding questions for stakeholders in the EuroDIG consultations – open for comment!

PART 1. General comments on the zero daft

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 [Q.1] Do the five objectives and 12 principles described in paragraphs 7 and 8 of the GDC text provide the necessary framework for achieving the goal of an inclusive, open, safe and secure digital future for all that supports progress in achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs)? Are there any missing aspects of digital cooperation that should be added to these objectives and principles?

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 [Q.2] Does the text say enough about building on and strengthening existing initiatives – including the WSIS process and the Internet Governance Forum – in order to avoid duplication?

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 [Q.3] Does the text successfully address gaps in Internet governance or create more risk of fragmentation of governance?

PART 2. Commitments and actions on the Rev.1 draft Global Digital Compact
OBJECTIVE 1: Closing the digital divides and accelerating progress across the Sustainable Development Goals
(paragraphs 10-17)
I. Connectivity

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 [Q.1] Does the text focus on the right kind of financial and investment initiatives to connect the remaining 2.6 billion people?

II. Digital literacy, skills and capacities

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 [Q.2] Are the goals and targets the right ones for achieving meaningful and safe use of the Internet?

III. Digital public goods and infrastructure

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 [Q.3] Is the focus on standards and safeguards the right approach for promoting public trust and use of digital services?
[Q.4] Are there best practices in Europe that can assist with the GDC’s goal of promoting multistakeholder partnerships for the development of digital public infrastructure?

OBJECTIVE 2: Expanding inclusion in the digital economy
(paragraphs 18-21)
Access to digital technologies

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 [Q.5] Does the text identify the most effective ways for achieving affordable and inclusive access to digital technologies?

OBJECTIVE 3: Fostering an inclusive, open, safe and secure digital space
(paragraphs 22-35)
I. Human rights

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 [Q.6] How can safeguards be established to prevent use of emerging technologies having adverse impacts on human rights? Should Europe support the proposal to create a UN Digital Human Rights Advisory Service?

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 [Q.7] Is there sufficient clarity in the zero draft about how to achieve greater accountability in the digital technology sector for violations and abuses of human rights?

II. Internet governance

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 [Q.8] Should the GDC say more in support of the multistakeholder model of Internet governance and cooperation at the regional and national level?

11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 [Q.9] Is the language of the commitment to “refrain from Internet shutdowns” strong enough?

III. Digital Trust and Safety

12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 [Q.10] Are the commitments to create greater trust and safety online strong enough, in particular for countering violence against women and girls, and preventing online child abuse?

13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0 [Q.11] How can the call for urgent action by the digital sector to increase transparency and create industry accountability frameworks, be implemented in practice?

IV. Information integrity

14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 [Q.12] How can stakeholders (including the technology companies) assist governments with their commitments to counter disinformation and mitigate the risks of information manipulation and AI-generated deception, while also protecting fundamental media freedoms?

OBJECTIVE 4: Advancing equitable international data governance
(paragraphs 36-46)
I. Data privacy and security

15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 [Q.13] Do you agree with the commitment to develop new international and national data governance frameworks or are existing regional and international initiatives and guidelines sufficient for ensuring security and privacy?

II. Data exchanges and standards

16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 [Q.14] Are the approaches to addressing data divides and misuse of databases, by developing common definitions and standards the right ones?

III. Data for development

17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 0 [Q.15] Is there European experience with data collection systems and data commons that can contribute to the creation and operation of  systems in support of sustainable development goals, environmental sustainability, disaster early warning and crisis response?

IV. Cross-border data flows

18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0 [Q.16] How can European stakeholders a) contribute to the development of solutions and best practice to address barriers to the free flow of data with trust (DFFT) and b) support the implementation of regional and global data frameworks?

OBJECTVE 5: Governing emerging technologies, including Artificial Intelligence, for humanity
(paragraphs 47-61)

19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0 [Q.17] Taking into account the number of existing initiatives relating to human-centric AI governance, do you agree there is a need to establish under the auspices of the UN another body, the International Scientific Panel on AI and Emerging Technologies?

20 Leave a comment on paragraph 20 0 [Q.18] Should the work of the proposed International Contact Group of government experts be supported by the Internet Governance Forum and national and regional fora such as EuroDIG which are already discussing a wide range of AI-related governance and ethical issues?

PART 3. Follow up and review
(paragraphs 52-65)

21 Leave a comment on paragraph 21 0 [Q.1] Will the proposed follow up actions and financing arrangements strengthen multistakeholder collaboration and cooperation in order to achieve the GDC’s objectives?

22 Leave a comment on paragraph 22 0 [Q.2] Do the proposals take full account of the potential roles of the Internet Governance Forum and the national and regional IGFs such as EuroDIG in a) advancing the GDC’s commitments, and b) conducting reviews of progress in meeting objectives and specific targets?

23 Leave a comment on paragraph 23 0 [Q.3] The involvement of several UN agencies and committees in the GDC follow up and review phase will require an efficient mechanism of coordination that is open to contributions from all stakeholder communities. Do you agree that the UN should establish a dedicated office for coordination or should this role be undertaken by an existing process or forum established by the WSIS process?

24 Leave a comment on paragraph 24 0 [Q.4] 4 Should the IGF (with contributions from the national and regional IGFs such as EuroDIG) have a more substantial role in a) the annual report process led by the UN Secretary-General, and b) the proposed UN High Level Review of the Global Digital Compact in 2026?

Source: https://comment.eurodig.org/eurodig-consultation-on-the-un-global-digital-compact-gdc/