In view of the political implications and growing challenges associated with digital transformation, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres last year launched a High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation. This body, of which former Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard was also a member, then drew up a series of recommendations on how to improve global digital cooperation and make it more solution-oriented. These recommendations are to be discussed at a number of events during the five-day Internet Governance Forum in Berlin, which will be attended by around 5,000 representatives of government, the business world and civil society from all over the world.
Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis will also take part in the discussion, participating in a high-level session on the future of internet governance. Switzerland has made concrete proposals for the future development of digital cooperation, with the aim of supporting a digitalisation process that puts people at the centre. Stakeholder groups from less developed countries must also able to contribute to the debate on digital governance. To achieve this, support opportunities and neutral guidance tools are to be created in all areas of digital policy. The Geneva Internet Platform launched by Switzerland is already making an important contribution in this respect and has the potential to do even more in future. Federal Councillor Cassis intends to further expand Geneva’s important role in global digital policy and make it a leading hub in the global digitalisation and technology debate. To achieve this, the Federal Council has launched three new initiatives in 2019. Alongside the Geneva Internet Platform, the Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator foundation aims to foresee the social challenges of a digitalised world and create the necessary multilateral framework together with the UN. Lastly, the Swiss Digital Initiative is a long-term and sustainable process for safeguarding ethical standards in the digital world.
The IGF is the world’s foremost and largest UN multi-stakeholder conference for the discussion of all aspects of digital governance. The Forum meets annually and serves as a platform for partnerships and discussing new approaches to finding solutions. Switzerland has played an active role in shaping the IGF since its creation in 2006 and hosted the IGF’s twelfth annual meeting in Geneva in 2017. The IGF Secretariat resides at the UN Office in Geneva, and the preparatory meetings are also held in Geneva. Switzerland has been actively involved in the development of digital cooperation and governance for the past 20 years and has played a decisive role in important milestones. For example, the World Summit on the Information Society – the forerunner of the IGF – took place in Geneva in 2003. Former Federal Councillor Samuel Schmid represented Switzerland at the 2005 World Summit in Tunisia, where he championed freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. Switzerland’s efforts focus firmly on people and their needs, i.e. on all people, everywhere: people should be as free as possible to make their own decisions about their life and work – and not be dominated and controlled by the state or a handful of corporations.
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