WG 2 – Digital Development and Openness

The mandate of FOC Working Group 2 “Digital Development and Openness” ended in May 2017. This page holds a record of their work.

At the end of 2014, FOC Working Group 2 – “Digital Development and Openness” – reframed its work to focus on digital development and the rule of law. This Working Group seeks to provide a timely contribution by the FOC to new and arising challenges for promoting the respect for human rights online. WG2 is co-chaired by the Swedish government and Katrin Nyman-Metcalf.

Through better connectivity and availability, the Internet is fast becoming an increasingly important factor in generating economic growth, innovation and social development, worldwide. In parallel, a range of challenges and threats are also emerging online and to online freedom.

Many countries are looking for guidance in how to implement rule of law-based legislative frameworks* that can deal with emerging challenges on the Internet while respecting human rights and maximizing the impact of the Internet for social and economic development.

Some general properties of such rule of law-based legislative and regulatory frameworks are that laws are clear and comprehensible, apply to all without discrimination and operate with  a functioning judicial system and parliamentary oversight. Although the salient value of the rule of law at both the national and international level is now well recognized, actions to further strengthen rule of law principles and good practices rarely include Internet-related aspects.

Since the Internet “ecosystem” is constantly evolving, and considering its borderless nature, recommending specific regulation as best practice would quickly become outdated. Instead, a principled approach should provide policy guidance on how to develop and maintain legal and institutional frameworks for Internet governance while avoiding a level of detail of technical legal examples.

Furthermore, while legislative acts are relatively easy to adopt, practice shows that the required institutional infrastructure, and capacity to implement them, is more difficult to achieve.

Framing and activities
In this context, the WG seeks to, in a multistakeholder setting, explore ways to further strengthen rule of law principles and good practices in a way that addresses emerging challenges, respects human rights and maximizes the impact of the Internet for social and economic development. The Working group members will identify current challenges and areas for future research in furtherance of this aim through a blog series – please see below.

*The recommended rule of law principles should draw upon the internationally acknowledged UN definition on the rule of law (S/2004/616, S/2012/749 and A/RES/2012/67), OSCE commitments, and similar standard setting normative practice from international and regional organisations.

Structure and Membership
The work of the WG is carried out by its members. The Group consists of 13 selected individuals who will join the WG Co-chairs – the Swedish Government and Folke Bernadotte Academy – as well as other FOC country members who have expressed interest in participating in the WG. Non-members of the WG will be able to input into the WG at various points in the process through physical meetings and online. Activities of the WG will be supported by the FOC Support Unit.

Working methods and timeline
The bulk of the WG’s work is done remotely via email, with potential physical meetings on the margins of existing international events like the Internet Governance Forum.

Group decisions and approval of final outcomes will be made by consensus among Group members.

At the fifth annual FO Conference in Mongolia, the mandate of the WG has been renewed until the next annual FO Conference to be held in 2016.