This year, the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) took place in Istanbul, Turkey from 2 to 5 September. This UN-initiated body is a multi-stakeholder, non-decision making forum of global importance for forward-looking discussions on Internet issues.
A seven women strong delegation from various Hivos programmes attended, including the Digital Defenders Partnership and Internet Governance in the MENA region (IG MENA). Together with Shita Laksmi from the Hivos office in Indonesia, who played a crucial role in organising the 2013 IGF in Bali and the national IGF in Indonesia, they created a strong presence at this year’s IGF.
In the run-up to the IGF, our IG MENA fellows also had the opportunity to attend a panel discussion online censorship organised by the Dutch Embassy in Istanbul.
Hivos representatives spoke at more than ten official sessions, while 18 fellows of the IG MENA programme from 9 MENA countries actively participated in the forum, interacting with national and international policy makers and peers to bring their own experiences and priorities to the table. This way, Hivos was able to actively participate in a number of coordinating initiatives of civil society and highlight crucial issues during different sessions during the forum – ranging from threats to (online) freedom of expression and privacy to the representation of voices from the Global South when it comes to Internet governance.
Hivos also engaged with the participants of the alternative Internet Ungovernance Forum, which delved deeper into strategies to ensure and protect an open, free and secure Internet.
On 4 September at an exceptionally diverse and well-attended session, we launched together with our partner Association for Progressive Communications (APC) the 2014 GISWatch report,“Communications surveillance in the digital age”, focused on mass surveillance.
It was a particular pleasure to welcome Vice President of the European Commission Neelie Kroes, who delivered a hard-hitting speech on the need to respect media freedom and pluralism in Turkey, and to personally present her with a copy of GISWatch 2014.