UN Headquarters, Geneva

IFLA has prepared an initial response to the consultation launched by the United Nations High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation. This highlights the importance of action for access to information, and the need to involve libraries in discussions about the future of the internet.

The development of the internet has been marked by the influence of government, businesses and civil society. Given its global nature, it has also posed challenges to traditional decision-making, given that policies made at the national level can have limited impact on a global network.

This creates difficult questions about the best way to respond to key policy issues, such as ensuring that everyone can get online and use the internet effectively, how to respond to cybercrime, or protect copyright and user rights.

The Internet Governance Forum has provided a valuable space to discuss such issues since 2006. IFLA has taken an active part in this work, promoting the importance of public access through libraries, and showing how library values and experience can help in solving other questions.  

Recognising the value of such discussions, as well as the need for collaboration in actions, the UN Secretary General has set up a High Level Panel on Digital Cooperation.

Led by Melinda Gates and Jack Ma, this aims to explore the types of cooperation already taking place to address key challenges on the internet, and make recommendations on what more can be done. They have launched a consultation, calling for evidence and input from all stakeholders.

IFLA has submitted initial comments, underlining the importance of partnerships for guaranteeing access to the internet, and giving people skills.

IFLA has also noted the need to ensure that institutions already involved in delivering key policy goals such as literacy, health and innovation should be involved in discussions about the internet, given the need to ensure that access helps improve lives.

You can read IFLA’s initial submission. IFLA will be working, through the FAIFE Committee, to develop a final set of comments on the consultation in the coming weeks. Read more about IFLA's engagement with the Internet Governance Forum.