APC member RITS at the IGF opening panel: focus on an open and inclusive internet

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By Graciela Seilamen for RITS

HYDERABAD, India, 03 December 2008

“Throughout history, humanity has been able to challenge the most rigid power structures with its creativity and with the urge for freedom that is inherent to the human spirit. This has brought us here – we’re a result of human hope, solidarity and tenacity. We’re here to discuss internet Governance structures and policies and, in this third meeting of the IGF, we must move forward, building upon the relevant work that has been done by this forum so far,” explained APC member RITS’ Graciela Selaimen at the opening ceremony of this year’s IGF in Hyderabad on December 3rd. As a part of the inaugural panel discussion, Graciela stressed in her speech that the IGF can also be a space for deliberation and participative decision-making.

Good afternoon Mr. Chairman and all the distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen.
Thank you for the opportunity to be here. And also thanks to the organisers and to the government of India who provided us with this excellent structure and a kind reception. I take this opportunity to express our solidarity in the face of the sad events in Mumbai last week.

The internet has vertiginously developed in the last decade mainly due to its open, interoperable and non-hierarchical open standards nature that has promoted the free flow of information and communication, consolidated a culture of collaboration and led us to new paradigms of cooperation, knowledge sharing and production. The public and egalitarian nature of the internet also fostered the expression of a wide diversity of voices and worldviews in a way that has definitely challenged the media monopolies and the cultural industry – although we know there’s a long way ahead until the human right to communicate – including through the internet – effectively reaches all the people in the world.

Today we face an ideological confrontation among two main tendencies that are manifested in the internet’s several layers – one, aiming to deepen the free flow of information, the construction of the commons, broadening the public space and the public domain in the use and in the development of the internet. The other, aiming to control, restrict the access to information and its flow, inspect and refrain its free development in order to benefit economic processes based on the private appropriation of knowledge and of the infrastructures on which information circulates, threatening the public and egalitarian nature of the internet.

In face of this, it’s important to remember and remark that throughout history, humanity has been able to challenge the most rigid power structures with its creativity and with the urge for freedom that is inherent to the human spirit. This has brought us here – we’re a result of human hope, solidarity and tenacity. We’re here to discuss internet Governance structures and policies and, in this third meeting of the IGF, we must move forward, building upon the relevant work that has been done by this forum so far. Let’s do it taking steps towards an internet environment based on human rights, inclusiveness, openness, operating for the public interest, fostering the sustainable development of societies while respecting local cultures and diversity. Let’s move towards the radicalization of democracy and equality in all levels of human experience and build internet Governance structures and processes that are transparent, accountable, people-centred, open to the participation of all the groups of interest, ensuring greater democratic basis to internet Governance structures.

I’m confident that we can work together to find concrete ways to defend and ensure rights such as freedom of expression, privacy, universal access, access to knowledge, diversity, health, education, participation in public life, sustainability and equality among people – starting with the equality among women and men – both on the internet and outside of it.

The IGF, a successful space for open dialogue, can also be a space for deliberation and participative decision making. In this regard, I fully agree with Jeremy Malcolm when he says that the IGF ought to “develop the capacity to more fully carry out its mandate, including the generation and communication of policy recommendations to other institutions and the general public”.

Muchas gracias a todos y todas – que tengamos una excelente reunión del IGF.
Obrigada a todas e todos – que tenhamos uma excelente reunião do IGF.
Thank you very much – may we have an excellent IGF meeting.

(END/2008)

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