International consultations on the build-up of the Global Digital Compact

International consultations on the build-up of the Global Digital Compact

On January 30, 2023, a start was made on international consultations on the build-up of the Global Digital Compact (GDC) at UN Headquarters in New York.

International consultations on the build-up of the Global Digital Compact

The first informal consultation with Member States and Stakeholders was held with the direct participation of Secretary-General’s Envoy on Technology Amandeep Singh Gill. The consultations are being held in accordance with the roadmappublished, the intergovernmental process on the GDC led by the Permanent Representatives of Rwanda and of Sweden. 

Such meetings will be held in a hybrid format till June 2023 and allow for participation of all stakeholders. During the first consultations, the need for various international organizations and platforms, such as the UN Internet Governance Forum (IGF), ITU and WIPO, to engage in the discussion was addressed.

It is worth noting that in his speech, a representative of the European Union put emphasis on the fact that both the European Declaration on Digital Rights and Principles and the Declaration for the Future of the Internet, signed by various Western countries, are important starting points for a digital transformation that is in line with human rights and inclusive solidarity principles.

Particular mention should be made of the statement of a representative of Cuba, who, also, spoke on behalf of the Group of 77 (G77) and China. He underlined the importance of avoiding duplication across UN work processes related to digital cooperation that are already being carried out. The G77 called for closing the digital divide, avoiding Internet fragmentation, and countering fake information, technical monopolies, unilateral economic and financial restrictive measures.

Senior Counsellor at the Permanent Mission of Russia to the UN Stepan Kuzmenkov also stated that it is of primary importance to follow the principle of division of labor [within the UN system] during consultations and discussions, preventing duplication across work processes related to thematically similar tracks.

In particular, he added that issues that come within the purview of the UN General Assembly First Committee and are related to international information security should not be included in the discussions on the upcoming compact. Russia’s representative concluded his speech by expressing confidence that GDC negotiations should be strictly intergovernmental. 

Hence, the very first consultations made clear the differences in the approaches taken by Western states and developing countries as well as Russia and China to the issue of whether the negotiation process should be strictly intergovernmental or can be joined by all stakeholders.

The Global Digital Compact is an initiative of the UN Secretary-General aimed at creating a comprehensive international document that could outline shared principles for an open, free and secure digital future. All stakeholders are invited to make their proposals on the GDC until March 31, 2023. The final version of the document will be presented to the global community at the Summit of the Future in 2024.

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