Internet Governance and Internet Freedom
A free, open, and accessible internet for all is essential for any healthy, thriving society. An open internet strengthens civic engagement, improves livelihoods, and promotes transparency and accountability. The increasing shift of political and social debates to online platforms has led to a corresponding rise by restrictive governments around the world to use the internet as tool to silence dissent, promote violence, and threaten basic human rights.
Ensuring the internet remains open and accessible is necessary to strengthen democratic engagement, ensure social inclusion, and equal participation in the global economy. Counterpart’s Internet Governance & Internet Freedom program aimed to build the capacity of civil society organizations, human rights activists and independent media outlets to improve government internet policy and citizen security.
Our focus was on strengthening the technical capacity of local leaders and organizations to create local solutions that will improve internet freedom and governance. We initially focused our efforts in Sri Lanka, Ukraine, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe to:
- Convene policy makers, rights activists, thought leaders and others to help build consensus and an action agenda to protect citizens’ rights in digital and online spaces
- Disseminate international human rights standards that frame effective internet policies and build the capacity of civil society organizations to advocate for these policies
- Support emerging leader delegations to participate in key global forums such as the UN Internet Governance Forum and RightsCon
- Provide grants and project assistance to civil society organizations working to address social inclusion in the digital and online arena
Specific program goals and outcomes were designed as program partners were identified and participants shared the most pressing needs facing their communities. Program impacts included:
- Partners gained increased institutional and professional capacity to lead advocacy and research initiatives at the national level in Sri Lanka, Ukraine, Venezuela and Zimbabwe
- National dialogues between government and civil society will build consensus around internet policies that allow for freedom of expression and protect basic human rights
- Partners were recognized regionally and internationally at multi-stakeholder forums for their leadership in advancing internet freedom and governance in their countries