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German-Brazilian Workshop on Human Rights in the Digital Age

11.11.2015 - Article

Germany and Brazil jointly organized a workshop on Human Rights in the Digital Age during the 10th “Internet Governance Forum” in Brazil.

Not only do Brazil and Germany share their passion for football, they also share the same values when it comes to the Internet and human rights. That why both countries jointly organized a workshop on this topic during the 10th “Internet Governance Forum”.

The conference took place in Joao Pessoa, Brazil
The conference took place in Joao Pessoa, Brazil© Federal Foreign Office

Building on the close bilateral cyber relationship between Germany and Brazil, and their successful cooperation on two joint UN resolutions on the right to privacy in the digital age in 2013 and 2014, the two countries have organized a joint workshop in the framework of the UN-mandated “Internet Governance Forum”. The 10th session of this distinguished forum has brought together more than 3,000 delegates to discuss the future of the Internet and is taking place in João Pessoa in northeastern Brazil from November 10 to 13.

On the opening day, high-ranking speakers such as David Kaye, UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Opinion and Expression, and Joe Cannatacci, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy, engaged in an insightful debate with government, private sector and civil society representatives.

The German-Brazilian round table “From Concepts to Action – Implementing Core Principles in the Digital Age”, at which global Internet principles were discussed, was co-hosted by Dr Thomas Fitschen, Germany’s Commissioner for the United Nations, International Cyber Policy and Counterterrorism in the Federal Foreign Office.

Round Table, co-costed by German Cyber Commissioner Fitschen (centre)
Round Table, co-costed by German Cyber Commissioner Fitschen (centre)© Federal Foreign Office

The fundamental idea that policy-making for “Internet Governance” has to follow democratic values and protect human rights raises the question of how are we to guarantee such protection in practice. Internet Governance is understood to be the development and implementation of shared principles, norms, rules and decision-making processes and programs which influence the further development and usability of the Internet by governments, the private sector and civil society.

Both UN Special Rapporteurs took a close look at the legal challenges that human rights face in our digital age. The particular challenges to the human rights recognized in the UN Charter in the context of cybersecurity were discussed by Kenyan, Indian, Tunisian, South African and American participants in a lively, multi-facetted way. These discussions resulted in new ideas for future projects, such as a mapping project on relevant actors and topics to be considered regarding online human rights protection.

This joint workshop is special insofar as most workshops and panels at the IGF are traditionally coordinated by activists, companies or civil society representatives. This workshop, however, has been initiated by the German and Brazilian Governments, highlighting once again the close cooperation engaged in by the two countries with a view to ensuring that the Internet of the future respects human rights.

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