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His Excellency, António Guterres
Secretary-General, United Nations

Copies to:

His Excellency, Abdulla Shahid
President of the 76th General Assembly

Ms Maria Francesca Spatolisano
Officer-In-Charge. Office of the Tech Envoy

January 27, 2022

Your Excellency,

The under-signed represent a diverse range of civil society groups from around the world who are committed to ensuring a digital cooperation that is inclusive of all stakeholders.

We have engaged with the Roadmap for Digital Cooperation from its inception; many of us provided inputs into the High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation’s consultations, and we have participated in the resulting Roadmap roundtables. With regards to the establishment of an Office of the Secretary-General's Envoy on Technology, and in particular with the appointment of the Envoy on Technology (Tech Envoy), we sent a position paper on November 6, 2020 which reiterated our support and outlined recommendations for an open, inclusive and transparent process, as well as profile, roles and responsibilities, and working methods of the Tech Envoy and suggested opportunities and spaces for collaboration. The position paper – supported by ninety organisations – was sent in the spirit of constructive collaboration.

We have worked closely with the Office of your Envoy on Technology since its establishment and continue to be actively engaged with it. We are cognizant of the efforts of your Office of the Envoy on Technology that have led up to the Common Agenda, with which we will also continue to engage. We recognise and welcome the open call for the Tech Envoy and note that some of the issues raised in our initial position were taken into consideration in the Job Description.

With regards to the process for the appointment of the Tech Envoy, we consider it of critical importance that a transparent process be ensured to select the mandate holder. This will not only guarantee a mandate holder who fulfills the requirements already stipulated, that is “to ensure greater coordination between UN agencies, advise the senior leadership of the United Nations on key trends in technology and serve as an advocate and focal point for digital cooperation – so that Member States, the technology industry, civil society and other stakeholders have a first port of call for the broader United Nations system”, but will also support a trustworthy relationship with stakeholders, which will be key to the fulfillment of the mandate.

We therefore take this opportunity to reiterate the key characteristics of the Tech Envoy profile based on our experience and mandates as civil society groups working to improve inclusive internet governance and digital cooperation. We echo what we earlier included in our position paper as well as desired working methods and opportunities for collaboration. While welcoming the encouragement for women to apply, it is important that not only should women candidates apply, but candidates on the shortlist need to be committed to bringing a gender lens into the mandate.

At this point, we also provide recommendations to support a transparent appointment process. We recognise that the mandate of the Tech Envoy is not an independent expert mandate but we recommend that lessons are learned from relevant processes, e.g. the Human Rights Council Special Procedures to support visibility and transparency in the Tech Envoy appointment process. To this end, we call for:

  • Widespread publication of the call in relevant forums, including on the webpage of the UN Tech Envoy and through relevant UN news outlets and communication channels, and a possible extension of the deadline to ensure a sufficient amount of qualified applications are received.

  • The publication of the names of candidates who responded to the open call.

  • The publication of the shortlist of candidates.

  • The declaration of independence of shortlisted candidates from any commercial conflicts of interest, unresolved legal, or human rights violations in their past roles or positions.

  • Relevant dates, for example, timeframe for consideration of candidatures and final decision.

Thank you for considering these recommendations. We remain at your disposal for any clarifications and look forward to working in close cooperation with you and the Office of the Tech Envoy as it continues its critical work.

Please accept, Your Excellency, the assurances of our highest consideration,

1. <A+> Alliance for Inclusive Algorithms
2. Access Now
3. Accur8Africa
4. Advocacy Initiative for Development (AID)
5. Afghanistan Democracy and Development Organization (ADDO)
6. Africa Foundation for Community Development (AFCOD-Uganda)
7. Africa Freedom of Information Centre
8. African Centre for Citizens Orientation
9. African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms Coalition
10. African Freedom of Expression Exchange (AFEX)
11. Africa Open Data and Internet Research Foundation (AODIRF)
13. AfroLeadership
14. Afrotribune
15. Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI)
16. Asociación Colombiana de Usuarios de Internet
17. Asociación TEDIC
18. Association for Progressive Communications (APC)
19. A World Without Chemical and Biological Weapons
20. Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication
21. Bareedo Platform, Somalia
22. Bloggers of Zambia
23. CCAOI, India
24. Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria
25. Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD)
26. Centre for Multilateral Affairs (CfMA)
27. Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa - CIPESA
28. Community Development Initiative (CDI), Kano, Nigeria
29. Data2X
30. Datalat, Quito (Ecuador)
31. Derechos Digitales
32. Digital Peace Now
33. Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum (DRIF)
34. Digital Rights Foundation (DRF)
35. DigitalSENSE Africa
36. Environmental Development Initiative
37. European Center for Not-for-profit Law
38. Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (FIFAfrica)
39. Free Expression Myanmar (FEM)
40. Front Page International (FPI)
41. Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD)
42. Global Partners Digital
43. Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data
44. HOUSE OF AFRICA, Ndjamena,Chad
45. iamtheCODE
46. Impact4News, UK
47. Instituto Nupef
48. Internet Governance Caucus
49. Inventario Nacional de Calidad del (Agua-INCA) National Inventory for Water Quality
50. Jade Propuestas Sociales y Alternativas al Desarrollo, A.C. (JADE SOCIALES), Yucatán, México
51. Jokkolabs Banjul
52. Keeping It Real (KIR) Foundation
53. Kinango Coalition for Human Rights Defenders
54. League for Societal Protection Against Drug Abuse (LESPADA)
55. Life Campaign to abolish death sentence in Kurdistan
56. Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)
57. Media Institute of Southern Africa-Zimbabwe Chapter
58. Media Matters for Democracy (MMfD)
59. Media Rights Agenda (MRA)
61. Open Data Watch
62. Organization of the Justice Campaign
63. Ovillage, Côte d’Ivoire
64. PACKS Africa
65. Paradigm Initiative
66. Policy Alert - Nigeria
68. Rainier Communications
69. Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales (R3D)
70. RNW Media
71. SDSN TReNDS group
72. Simply Secure
73. Social Media Exchange (SMEX)
74. Somali Youth Development Foundation (SYDF)
75. Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression (SafeNet)
76. Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Initiative (SEEDi)
77. Tanzania Health Care and Environmental Conservation Organisation
78. Taraaz
79. The Bachchao Project
80. The Empathy Business
81. Ubunteam
82. UCSF Global Programs, Kenya
83. WikiRate
84. Wisekey SA
85. Women at the Table
86. Women in Crisis Response
87. World Wide Web Foundation
88. YESAID Kenya
89. Youth Coalition on Internet Governance
90. ZeroToOne Foundation