The following are the outputs of the captioning taken during an IGF virtual intervention. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
>> PEGGY HICKS: Hello, everybody. Thank you for sitting through the multiple microphone tests. We think we have a system in place that will work. We want to welcome those of you present in the room today for this session, but onl, those online as well. So, hoping both our speakers who are online and our listeners are able to fully partake of the session and to hear us, and pardon us if we need to continue to work on any of those technical issues as we go forward.
But this is an open forum, as you know, focusing on technical standard‑setting and human rights. We have a lot of competition in this space, so we're grateful for those of you that have come, but also recognizing that this topic may not be the one that sounds the most exciting at the outset. I could use a different word, but I've chosen the more discreet term of "exciting," but it's one that's critically important for how we move forward with digital technologies, and we're really focused on the issues around how we take what I think is an understood commitment on all sides that we want standard‑setting to happen in a framing that allows and embeds human rights in a variety of ways, but really looking at how are we doing on that and what lessons have we already learned? What lessons can we learn? And how can we take that forward? And we have a really distinguished panel of experts with us today to talk through those issues.
So, as I said, the key questions ‑‑ and we've put them into the concept and just wanted to flag ‑‑ are, you know, what are the ways in which concerns relating to human rights in standard‑setting can be considered? What are some of the case studies and examples of how that's happened? How can standard development organizations facilitate human rights in their processes? And what are some of the current gaps and challenges? You know, when it doesn't work, why isn't it working? Particularly, what are some of those challenges relating to effective Civil Society participation in standard‑setting fora, and how can we, obviously, look towards what are some of the potential solutions in those areas.
And finally, how can we potentially make standard‑setting progressions more transparent and accessible to organizations that are working at the intersection of human rights and digital technology and Civil Society more generally. So, with that focus, I wanted to introduce our wonderful panel. I'll do that one by one, I think, as we go through them. But we have a lot of expertise here. We're going to give each of them five minutes to lead off, and then we really hope to engage our audience, both here and online, to have an ongoing dialogue about these important issues.
So, without further ado, I would like to hand over to our first panelist, who will be online, Dr. Bilel Jamoussi, the Chief of Study Groups Department at ITU Standardization Bureau. ITU, of course, is our next door neighbor in our office in Geneva, so we're very happy to have this opportunity to welcome Dr. Bilel and to have him participate in the panel. So, I hope ‑‑ there you are ‑‑ it's working fine. Over to you, sir.
>> BILEL JAMOUSSI: Thank you very much for the opportunity to join you remotely today and to join the IGF. I'm very pleased to represent the ITU in this discussion, and I send you my greetings from the ETSI General Assembly.
The topic of human rights and setting standards is an important one. We have had a few opportunities to dialogue on this issue this year, but I think in one of the most important aspects is the fact that the process be open and inclusive of all participants. And in the context of ITU, the fact that our membership includes Member States, the private sector, and academia, is a fairly open and inclusive in terms of participation. So, for example, various experts from government could join, or the government delegations can open their delegation to the meetings to be all inclusive of the various participants and stakeholders in the country, but it's important that to know that many of the standard‑setting organizations are fairly technical, and they look at the technology, and they're trying to solve a problem and develop the standard that solves a particular technical problem without necessarily looking at all uses of the technology.
And in our space, because of the information communication technologies and digital technologies are now pervasive in all aspects of life, it's important to be aware of the possible implications to human rights, and perhaps creating opportunities for human rights experts to dialogue with the leadership of the standards groups could be a good starting point in providing that linkage between some of the human rights issues on the table and the implications for technologies as they are developed into standards.
So, to maybe summarize the key aspects is the platform has to be open, but at the same time, all stakeholders should be around the table. They should come and participate. And when they do see that certain technologies might be going in the wrong direction from a human rights perspective, to voice their opinion and maybe propose solutions on how that could be solved.
And there are some cases where the standards that might have had issues with facial recognition, for example, and possible implications for human rights were being discussed in some of our study groups, and when the community came around the table and voiced its opinion on whether to accept or not accept the standard, then the final decision kind of was all inclusive and provided the consensus‑based process and really did not go forward with that particular standard.
So, to sum up, the process needs to be open, but all the players and stakeholders need to come and participate so that their voice can be heard and the final outcome could be consensus‑based document or standard that takes into account all of the aspects, including human rights. Thank you.
>> PEGGY HICKS: Great, thank you so much. And I'm told I didn't have the mic close enough, so apologies for those who couldn't hear. Bilel has set a good foundation for the conversation, really looking at the fact that we really do need everyone at the table, that there is an openness on ITU's part and others to make sure that there are, but at the same time, really thinking about what are some of the obstacles, if it's not happening as thoroughly as we'd like, what are the reasons why it doesn't always happen in the way that was described. And potentially focusing on the need for dialogues between Human Rights experts and the leaders of study groups, and also realizing that are two different communities who come to the issues from two different places and a lot of the times we're not speaking the same language in building some of those bridges. So, thank you for the first intervention. I'm going to turn now to my right, Dr. Lars Eggert, distinguished Engineer for Net standards, NetApp and chair of Internet Engineering Task Force. Great to have you with us. Thank you.
>> LARS EGGERT: Thank you. (Audio difficulty) Bring the mic up. Thanks for the invitation to speak here and thank you to the host of the meeting. It is great. I'm enjoying this very much. For those not familiar with the ISOC, the sister organization. In venues like this, we are more technical (?) body than other things in the same space. The ITF, we sort of develop and maintain the core Internet protocols. If you are on IP version 6, TLS, security ‑‑ EGP for housing, HTTP which is the protocol that carries the ‑‑ (audio fading in and out) they originated with us, maintaining and being ‑‑ for almost over 30 years. 1986. There were 21 participants and many of them actually still participate in the IGF today and I think some went to all 850 meetings ‑‑
So, the IGF is truly open. I agree that that is a key requirement for multi‑stakeholder (audio fading in and out). We have no participation fees. You don't need to sign anything, there is no legal contract or ‑‑ membership. If you are interested to participate, subscribe to the mailing list, come to the meeting and you can start contributing. The work's mostly done online, has always been done online with mailing lists. We meet three times a year at various places around the globe. We try to rotate. We see about 1300 people at those meetings ‑‑ a bit smaller than the IGF, but the last count I saw is we have about 55,000 people that are subscribed to at least one of our mailing lists, so there's a huge community that's only participating online. (Audio difficulty) and all of our standards and working documents, in all emails and presentations, they're all freely available. Right. That's a little bit about the IGF. (Audio fading in and out)
In terms of the question you asked. So, fundamentally, right, some of the architectural principles of the Internet have been aligned with Human Rights from the beginning. I think that is sort of, leaves at a high level actually in a pretty good place, in a better place than we might be if we had (?) telco standardization forward. So, the situation is not terrible, right, but today's Internet is very complex, and there are aspects of it that have evolved in ways that some might say are in conflict, but we have the ability to change the decisions that were made and reconcile to these differences. I think that is sort of what (?) has been starting to happen in recent years. In the IGF in particular, we have a research arm, the IRTF, and we have a group, the human rights protocol considerations research group ‑‑ HRPC, that is looking at some of these aspects. And I wish I could take credit that the IGF initiated that. It's actually the advocates and human rights researchers, academics that came to the IGF, said we want to look at your standards development process and give you feedback on whether your output sort of aligns with the human rights, and the initial community feedback in the IGF may be best described as, why would you want to do that. But as we started the discussion, it was clear that was a thing that looked interesting and we wanted to support that. The creation of the research group has been a great start.
I mentioned the new protocol which carries the web. HRPC did a pretty detailed review of the protocol document and gave us feedback while the technology was still being built. You know, take these considerations into account and then make changes and have reasons for that and that was a very good experience and I highly recommend the IGF do work but also maybe look at that as (audio fading in and out) thank you.
>> PEGGY HICKS: That's fascinating Lars, and to have a good case study like that. And the reaction as well is important to put on the table, that as you said, I think there is a general understanding that everybody wants to align these things, you know, but it doesn't necessarily just happen. And bringing people together in a way can raise new questions, ideas, new ways of making it happen more effectively.
I also took your point about the high‑level alignment that is somehow already there and built in. We are celebrating the 75th anniversary for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the coming year. And one of the things we talk about in that context is how fortunate we are that 75 years ago, we had the vision to have that document and wonder if we could, actually, recreate it today in a variety of ways. So, that top‑level alignment is something to be very grateful for, as you said.
We're very fortunate, as well, to have with us Dr. ‑‑ and you even told me how to pronounce it, and I'm still messing it up ‑‑ Dessalegn Mequanint Yehuala, the researcher and lecturer at Addis Ababa University. We are very glad to bring your perspective into the discussion and hear your views based on the context and work you've been doing within the university. Thank you so much.
>> DESSALEGN MEQUANINT YEHUALA: Thank you. My name is Dessalegn. I work for the Addis Ababa University. I will try to shed some light on how the standard development organizations can can be, I mean, transparent in respect to human rights considerations. I think I have been involved in IGF and to some extent in IEEE. I know IGF is ‑‑ IGF membership is open as long as we have participants with public interest technologies, the room for human rights consideration where developing standard I think is wide open I can say to some extent.
I can mention a specific example, recent development. For example, in the past, we were used to specify fully qualified naming the browser address bar, but today we don't do that because the IGF has produced a standard which tries to minimize the part of the URL so that, because it's somehow related to the privacy preservation. So, there are some developments which can say that there is a hope, if we are truly ‑‑ I mean, if we are doing our own part, particularly our homework, and try to publicize ‑‑ I mean, when I say "publicize," I say that Human Rights organizations to some extend have to collaborate with universities where potentially they are the right places to produce people with public interest orientation. So, if Human Rights organization can do their part, then membership in IGF is open, and more and more number of people with public interest orientation are participating in IGF's standard development process, that's a possibility where Human Rights organization can exploit to some extent.
In fact, I have also had some experiences there. I was taking part in global initiative titled trust intelligence development. We have some problems. The problem is, you know, we always say that companies produce some systems based on personal data, using imaging and artificial intelligence algorithms, but we blame them for being invasive of privacy, but we don't have some document which can help them to use as the guidelines to produce the products. So, with that intent, since there is no existing document which can be used as a best practice in developing national learning algorithms, we started developing learning algorithms, which is an identical copy of the same item. Those people who are familiar with programming know that.
So, the idea was to produce some best practices so that basic learning algorithms can refer towards making their system more transparent. We have problems of algorithm transparency. So, that's the sort of thing that Human Rights organizers can collaborate so that, you know, not only developing standards, taking part in standard development processes, but they can also, somehow, spearhead best practice development.
Because sometimes, product developers, they do not ‑‑ they don't know how, when and how to start. The primary focus of most product developers is, you know, making their system responsive to functional requirements. And in some aspects, human rights related things are considered as a perforating. So, if we can, I think, identify gaps such as the one I mentioned earlier, and work on those things, I think there is a potential to get involved in the standard development processes. And then at the same time ‑‑ in fact, I forgot to mention one thing. In artificial intelligence, when we develop a system, we use the notion of human is a look for algorithms. We do this, because by allowing the system to be more interactive with human, advances are high that the system will capture the user's behavior, and then that algorithm becomes good.
The same is true ‑‑ I mean, context may not remain the same, but Human Rights organizations can aim for having Human Rights in the loop process in the setup, in the standard development process. Thank you.
>> PEGGY HICKS: No, it's fine. Thanks so much, Dessalegn. You made a number of points that really loop back to some of what we heard as well, and I love the Human Rights in the loop concept. That's certainly what we would like to see. But you also noted, as did Bilel, some of the reasons why it doesn't necessarily happen, that people come at these issues from their own perspectives. If you're doing product development, you're looking at the uses. And so, we need to make it easy. And you talked about how using guidelines and other things might help us do that and how we on the Human Rights side should collaborate as much as possible with universities and experts who are working in these areas to move that forward.
I'm going to turn now to our fourth speaker, Mehwish Ansari, the Head of Digital for Article 19. I hope you're with us, Mehwish. Looking forward to your comments.
>> MEHWISH ANSARI: Thank you very much. Hello, everyone. I will be speaking more from the Civil Society perspective in the experience of Article 19 in engaging at the intersection of Human Rights and technical standards. And as an organization, we've been doing that since 2015. Since then, we've really seen some shifts in the technical communities across the landscape and I think there is awareness of the relevance of Human Rights considerations, the relevance of Human Rights considerations to standards development, I think. In some of those cases, my co‑panelists have already raised, that shift could be encapsulated in the publication of RFC 8280 on research into Human Rights protocol considerations, which was developed by HRPC, the group that Lars mentioned earlier.
We also have, you know, in the IEEE, the standard 802e‑2020, which is privacy considerations for IEEE 802 technologies. So, we definitely have seen these shifts. However, I think these technical communities ‑‑ you know, when we look at the technical communities that make up this landscape, we're still very far from fully understanding and integrating Human Rights considerations into standardization activities. And it really looks like there are three key conditions that really need to be met for us to make that kind of process in a sustainable, meaningful way. And again, I think I'm going to be echoing some of the points that were already made by my co‑panelises. But I think the first condition is really around this idea of having some kind of accountable mechanism, right? We've already mentioned this on the panel. Those can be assessment or evaluation frameworks, really those tools and the processes that are embedded in standardization activities to sort of normalize the consideration of Human Rights as a formal part of the standards development process.
And I think when we're right now, at the stage that we are in this conversation, at the intersection of Human Rights and standardization, this is often where the conversation starts, right? How can we build these accountability mechanisms in technical communities, and as part of these technical communities, right? Because, of course, this needs to be done with all of the stakeholders that make up these communities. Otherwise, there will never be the kind of buy‑in that's necessary for actually implementing these mechanisms. So, this isn't, you know, just about Civil Society pitching these mechanisms or one particular type of stakeholder bringing this forward. This really needs to be embedded and owned by the entire community for the implementation of these mechanisms to be meaningful. Otherwise, that Human Rights in the loop process, we could have that, you know, we could put that down on paper, we can even publish it as part of an SDOs documentation, but it will never be normalized as practice.
But I think, you know, even the most robust accountability mechanisms that we develop, again, as part of these communities, they're meaningless if you don't have two other conditions, and that's really openness and transparency. And I know Dr. Jamoussi mentioned openness in particular. You need to have human rights experts who can make the connection between the technical work being standardized and the Human Rights implications of that work. I think Dr. Jamoussi mentioned the, you know, the efforts to standardize, or proposals to standardize facial recognition in ITU‑T Study Groups, and there was a recommendation brought by Member States who sat around the table and raised Human Rights concerns.
The key is that a lot of the concerns that drove that response was done through, you know, those Member States consulting with Civil Society and Civil Society that are following these processes and can bring that expertise in terms of why and how the Human Rights implications come to bear on these proposals.
So, you know, Civil Society stakeholders have this Human Rights expertise, but there are several implicit and explicit barriers for them that mean that participation from the stakeholder group is relatively minimal in standards development processes in SDOs, even if, you know, Civil Society or non‑industry, non‑state stakeholders are ostensibly able to join as members or attend meetings. There are some really high barriers that disproportionately impact Civil Society's ability to participate, and as such, you don't often see a robust sense of Human Rights expertise in these bodies. If you don't have that, then it doesn't matter what kind of evaluation process you put in place to develop those Human Rights considerations as part of standardization; you're not going to have the knowledge within that community to be able to apply it.
The third condition is really transparency. Now, SDOs are all different. There is, you know, their working methods are all different. Each one is unique. However, I think when you look across the board, you, of course, have SDOs like the IETF, which have, you know, an approach and a principle level to radical transparency and working methods, but there are many SDOs that have quite opaque processes, where it can be difficult, if not impossible, for non‑members to know what work is currently being done, who's doing the work, and what the state of the deliberations are. And that has a knock‑on effect, right? Not only is that going to further undermine that inclusion or that openness, because you know, if you don't know what's going on in SDO, you might not feel compelled to engage. And it also has a knock‑on effect in terms of the robustness of those accountable mechanisms. Without meeting those conditions of openness and transparency, accountability mechanisms like, you know, Human Rights impact assessments or any other kinds of review processes that you try to implement, they're not only in danger of becoming meaningless, they can be dangerous. You know, without the relevant expertise or the accountability that comes from being transparent to external review and oversight, you know, you can have an accountability mechanism that can rubber stamp standards and processes as being rights‑respecting, while in actuality, falling below international standards and principles. So, I'll stop there, but I think in terms of the takeaways, the conditions that we need to set, it can be quite complicated in making sure that we not only have processes to evaluate them ‑‑ Human Rights considerations ‑‑ but making sure that they're actually meaningful.
>> PEGGY HICKS: Thanks so much, Mehwish. It's really wonderful to hear both from the perspective of a Civil Society organization that, clearly, based on the expertise you've brought, is very much engaged in this process, but also what it will take to broaden that engagement and make it applicable across the SDOs and in a way that makes it consistent, sustainable, and actionable and accountable in the ways that you've said.
And I take very much the point that we need to learn the lessons of where it's working to bring them forward into areas where it may not be working as well. And I certainly, on our part at the UN Human Rights Office, we've heard from Civil Society organizations as well, you know, how difficult it can be, due to the issues of opaqueness and transparency that Mehwish talked about, but also just the lack of resources and the need for ongoing engagement. You know, these are not necessarily processes that are easy for actors to engage in on a one‑time basis, you know. It requires a substantial investment, which sometimes isn't there. So, how can we reduce those engagement costs in a way that make it easier for the expertise that's easier to make it necessary to be at the table. So, that's our panel for you. We really look forward to engaging with you all as an audience, both here in the room and online. And I think we have the technology set up so that we will take questions. I don't know if we have some in there Yoojin? All right, let me let Yoojin get to the questions first. If people in the room can think of their questions, too, and raise your hands so I can see you, and we'll take two or three, potentially, depending on the number of questions that we have. And if you have a particular member of the panel that you'd like to address it to, please include that, or otherwise, I'll just ask all of you if you want to come in.
>> YOOJIN KIM: Thanks, everyone. We have one question in the chat box that I think is a good question to start us off. And do feel free to raise your hand here or your digital hand. So, Niels has asked, regarding the ITU, he has directed a question to Dr. Jamoussi about the commitment of openness of ITU and whether that means the participation in study groups will be open for Civil Society non‑sector members.
As you know, the participation fees are quite steep.
>> PEGGY HICKS: That's one question for Dr. Jamoussi in particular. Would anyone in the room like to come in? Take a couple more? Please, sir. (Off microphone) yeah, okay. We can pass them around as well.
>> AUDIENCE: Good afternoon. I am Joel Diaz representing the Council of the Brazilian Bar Association. I just wanted a very quick update, if that is possible, from anyone from the panel, considering the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. How is the UNHCR and the other participants in the panels, agents, states, and private sector is dealing with the inclusion and accessibility of persons with disabilities? Thank you.
>> PEGGY HICKS: Thank you for that. Other questions online? Or in the room? Please. The microphone that was just used is probably your best bet. Sorry. Thank you.
>> AUDIENCE: I'll stand up formally while I ask the question. I am Ava Yushenka from UK Government. Thank you to all the panelists. Useful discussion to pick up on. We are really keen on contributing to this. One of the things I wanted to pick up on especially, they were sort of talking about that interplay between technical standards, technical ability, and then standing behind it and Human Rights abilities. It's really, really difficult to find people that understand both in a lot of detail.
One question I had is on how do we tackle that? Where would it come from? And I'm thinking back to, is that something we need to integrate in study programs? Do we need to train Human Rights future leaders on technical issues very early on?
The other question I have was on, at what point Human Rights touches on the standards‑making process. We have proposals in early stages. You have the development process, just going back to the accessibility point as well, how accessible are standards‑making processes themselves? But actually, where we see a majority of Human Rights abuses is when standards hit the real world. Standards themselves don't abuse Human Rights, it's when it's being implemented in reality where we might see issues that are touching on Human Rights. So, how do we address that problem that sometimes it might just be that in the implementation of a standard, Human Rights are becoming an issue that wasn't really visible while the standard was being developed, as very technical. Any reflections on the panel on that?
>> PEGGY HICKS: Thank you very much. Three very interesting and compelling questions for us. So, I think we'll turn to the panel, and you can pick amongst those questions, which you might want to come in on. But if Dr. Jamoussi is with us, maybe I'll turn to you first, as the first question went specifically to sort of the engagement by Civil Society and study groups and some of the barriers to participation over there. Over to you.
>> BILEL JAMOUSSI: Sure. Thank you very much for the question. In fact, let me just give a quick overview of the participation in our study groups, the standard‑setting groups. They are open to all the Member States, and any member state can designate who can participate on their delegation. So, that is one possibility for Civil Society to join the member state delegation, and there is no cost for the member state to join any of the Study Group meetings.
The second category of members, or participants, are the private sector, and usually, those are big companies that are producing equipment and doing interoperability and IP on and so on, and any private sector company can have as many delegates on their delegation as they wish.
We also have associate members that are specifically interested in one Study Group, and their fee of participation is quite reduced, especially when they are small and medium enterprises. Or, the final category is academia, and we have many universities and research institutes around the world with as little as 2,000 Swiss francs or $2,000, they have access to all sectors of the ITU ‑‑ ITU‑R, ITU‑D, and ITU‑T, the Standards, Radio, and Development.
In addition, on top of all of this, if there is a particular expert who wishes to participate in a Study Group, they can be an invited expert of the Chairman. So, that menu of options really makes it possible for anyone who is a stakeholder to either come in on a member state delegation, on a company delegation, on a university delegation, and if all that fails, they can be invited by the Chairman of the group to participate in our study groups.
In addition, we usually have about six to eight focus groups that are open to non‑members, so anyone from any member state of the ITU could join our focus groups, which are usually the pre‑setting standards groups that kind of elaborate a few of the new topics ‑‑ AI for Health, AI for National Disaster Management, Energy Efficiency, just to give you a few examples of the focus groups. All of these are completely open platforms. Anybody can sign up, get a user account, join the meetings.
So, I think with that various options, I think the participation is quite flexible. There are many ways to enter the meetings and join the conversation. But if there are other ideas or proposals, we're happy to entertain them. Thank you.
>> PEGGY HICKS: Great. And while we have you, doctor, would you like to come in on either of the other questions around the accessibility for persons with disabilities of these processes, inclusion of them in it, both within technical standard‑setting, but I think it was a little bit broader as well? And then, the last question, which had two parts around that bridging of the technical and Human Rights communities and what more we can do on it, as well as the issues around extending the transparency and work within it. So, any comments on the other two?
>> BILEL JAMOUSSI: Absolutely. Accessibility is one of our key deliveries in terms of accessible information in communication technologies. We have a coordination activity that spans across all the sectors to make sure that all the standards that we develop have accessibility as an embedded and integral part. Ms. Andrea Saks is our Chair of the Accessibility Group under TSAG, which is the umbrella for all under ITU‑T. We have resolutions at the Plenipotentiary to make sure all of our standards address accessibility, but we also make our meetings accessible. Captioning became more or less a natural resource that we provide to most of our meetings. We have sign language interpretation. So, we try to make the meetings accessible when we have experts who have accessibility needs. So, that is really a number of standards also developed by Study Group 16 are on accessibility in ICTs.
And then, in terms of the bridging ‑‑ the final question on bridging between the Human Rights and standards. I think one practical way to do it is to have maybe a yearly workshop, where we bring the human rights experts and the standards leaders ‑‑ the Chairman of study groups or focus groups, et cetera ‑‑ and to try to provide a dialogue, platform for dialogue, so that we have the two communities understand each other, because the technical folks use technical terms, and the Human Rights folks have their own terminology. And often, a lot could be lost in understanding each other because we have different terminologies for different things. So, probably having a platform for dialogue.
Highlighting some of the key principles of Human Rights and their implications for technology from the Human Rights experts, and then having the standard leaders talk about their work programme and what's new on their plate and trying to bridge that gap between the Human Rights principles and needs and the technology standards that are being developed, or digital standards that are being developed could be a way to bring those two communities closer to each other and to ensure that the Human Rights principles are ‑‑ there is awareness, and then the adherence to respect them. Thank you.
>> PEGGY HICKS: No, thanks. And the last part of the question, it was actually sort of a two‑parter, was around what we do when standards are implemented and Human Rights problems or issues that we haven't predicted arise, which I think is one of the questions that often comes up, that the standard‑setting organizations say, well, you know, we're doing everything we can on this side, but you know, what happens on that? So, we'll ask all the panel to think about that and come in on that as well.
Lars, did you want to comment on any of those?
>> LARS EGGERT: Yes. I can come in on the first one, the one you just mentioned. The IGF, we have a pretty robust participation from the practitioners that actually deploy protocols. And maybe we are a little bit unique in that aspect. So, we have the ability to continue the conversation about Human Rights past the point of when the standards get published. So, there is the ability to talk to the people, not only the people who originated the standards, but those are often the same ones that are then in control of a large part of the deployment. And so, that's a possibility that exists, at least for us.
I also wanted to comment earlier. Two of the panelists brought up the openness and transparency as sort of the preconditions for this work, and I absolutely agree. And I want to sort of believe that the IGF is on the far end of the spectrum, because everything is public and free and you can just look at it. But still, right, we ‑‑ so, one of the questions that we have at the moment in leadership is how can we give structure to an ongoing conversation with Human Rights advocates that doesn't require them to, like, follow the technical work on an ongoing basis? Because that is clearly not scalable and it's not a worthwhile time investment for them. There's so much work that gets done where it's not, you know ‑‑ it makes no sense for somebody to look at this.
On the other hand, right, oftentimes you hit these questions very quickly, where you would like to have somebody in the room or available that you could, you know, have a conversation with on this. And so, we're trying to figure out a way where we can create something, at least in the IGF. Maybe it's something broader, but it was brought up the IGF workshop. That could be good in terms of education, but, especially for the IGF, I would like something to have the ability to start a conversation when the Working Group hits a certain issue, right, or be informed by Human Rights advocates that have working groups has hit a certain issue, without requiring them to follow the technical work. Some of them do, and hats off to them because it's a lot of work, but it clearly hasn't scaled and we need another way. All of the years, if anybody has ideas of what to do here, we're willing to try anything. Thank you.
>> PEGGY HICKS: I think that's a great answer to that question, because I do think that's part of what we're seeing from the Human Rights side, is we want to be involved in the right places but don't necessarily have the capacity to be involved across the entire process in the way it's conceived currently. So, yeah, great ideas on that. Dessalegn, would you like to come in on one of the questions?
>> DESSALEGN MEQUANINT YEHUALA: No. I would like to recap on one of the questions raised earlier ‑‑ how can we bridge the knowledge gap that trainees or graduates or practitioners have on Human Rights? Normally, in university or college, what we do is we teach students like ethical hacking in terms of I see Human Rights to have some sort of ethical dimensions. So if university and college curriculums can be oriented, I mean, ethical dimensions, which also includes Human Rights aspects are being considered in curriculums of college and universities, those sort of things ‑‑ I mean, the gap that was mentioned earlier, can be to some extent bridged.
I mentioned earlier our practical ‑‑ we, for example, when I teach security to my students, I also teach them how to write virus, in terms of, but I also teach them how to behave ethically. I'm just showing them how to ‑‑ how viruses are ‑‑ they know viruses when they were taught introductory courses, but for them not to be a black box, I have to teach them so that while I teach them that, and I also instruct them to help professionally.
The same is true to Human Rights considerations. So, when we teach students, we can add some ethical images which also includes Human Rights aspect. Thank you.
>> PEGGY HICKS: And the Human Rights side, we can build in tech more often as well. I want to turn to Mehwish and see if you have comments on the four questions that are on the table now.
>> MEHWISH ANSARI: Sure. Thank you very much. I think, just I wanted to pick up on some of the points that were raised. First, I want to push back a little bit on the idea that Civil Society, or you know, when you have Human Rights expertise, that you can't also have technical expertise or that Civil Society isn't capable of bridging both.
You know, I think public interest technologists, there's quite a robust community of public interest technologists that work as part of Civil Society, that work within the stakeholder group, that have the ability to bridge these knowledge bases. So, you know, it's not so much the fact that Civil Society wouldn't be capable of engaging in technical spaces, or even to be able to use that language, right? I think the idea of bridging knowledge bases, and then, of course with that, being able to translate. Translation is kind of like a key theme as part of that, right? How do you translate Human Rights considerations into technical aspects or technical considerations? That translation exercise is something that, you know, I think we sort of ‑‑ we might undermine Civil Society's ability to be able to translate into technical language, technical speak, but that's not the case. So, I think that the knowledge base is certainly there.
The question, though, yes, is how do we then move through the financial barrier, the knowledge barrier, and by knowledge barrier, I mean the very particular ways in which SDOs function, the histories, the politics within these spaces between different stakeholders that make up the technical community of these spaces, the decision‑making, how that's done, and to be able to navigate through that in an effective way.
And then also, you know, the culture barrier. I think it can be ‑‑ you know, Dr. Jamoussi mentioned that there are many ways for Civil Society to be able to participate as part of a government delegation, or you know, brought on as an expert or working in a focus group. That's ‑‑ you know, yes, I think those are really important, valuable ways. You know, potentially, the idea of a yearly workshop could be valuable, but these are just ‑‑ these are simply not substitutions for being able to participate in an independent capacity, for Civil Society to be able to engage as independent and valuable stakeholders to technical processes, to see them as part of that Keckical community, as being able to bring value both in technical and non‑technical senses. There is just no substitution for that, if they are not able to join meetings as individual stakeholders, being able to join to obtain membership to more closed standards development processes as individuals and not as part of multi‑stakeholder delegations, no matter how valuable they are. And I do want to say that Article 19 participates as part of a national delegation to the ITU, and we absolutely see the value of multi‑stakeholder delegations.
This kind of gets me to answering the question about, you know, how do we support that expertise, particularly for governments like the UK? You know, how do you support expertise and cultivate that, you know, between Human Rights and technology. I think governments can absolutely do that by building multi‑stakeholder delegations, particularly to intergovernmental SDOs or by establishing mirror committees to intergovernmental SDOs like the ISO/ISE processes, as an example. So, I really just want to respond to some of those, to those comments.
In terms of, you know, at what point standards impact Human Rights, I think it's a really interesting question, and there are a lot of ways in which standards are actually really important when it comes to real‑world implementation, and I think Dessalegn mentioned a few of those examples, so I don't want to get in too deeply on that, but it's just to sort of echo what others have said and to really highlight the fact that, you know, if we are toeg look at standardization, it's looking at it as part of the broader cycle of technology design, development and deployment, standardization is a really key point of intervention where different stakeholders, we can engage with each other and speak to each other about real‑world implementations before the deployment of these technologies, before they become ubiquitous in our daily lives. So, it's absolutely a critical point for us to be having multi‑stakeholder dialogue around technology, you know.
But to only focus on this would be to confuse the means for the ends, right? So, recognizing that we should be developing these human rights considerations before deployment, standardization can be a key environment for us to be able to do that. But then to carry that through to where standards meet, you know, government procurement or deployment mandates by regulators or implementations by the private sector, and really considering that conversation through is something, again, you know, speaking as part of the Human Rights organization, something that we are really thinking about as well from the Civil Society perspective.
>> PEGGY HICKS: Great. Thanks very much, Mehwish. And I think very much point taken on the special and unique role that Civil Society can play in technical standard‑setting. And obviously, that's part of what the whole initiative is about, is to figure out how we can break down barriers to make that happen more.
I think, though, that the bridging question ‑‑ and I think Dessalegn's answer went to that ‑‑ is much more focused on the questions of how, the way it's often phrased is how we get the technical side to really not see the Human Rights piece as an add‑on or additional hurdle to jump over, but something that they have an interest and that they have expertise themselves to embed, so sort of a mainstreaming effort as well, where they're the ones that are pushing for Civil Society and others to be at the table and building allies within the technical community, which I think is a great starting point there. Yoojin, do we have more questions online? We have eight minutes left. Others in the room, please. I don't see any hands. Good, good.
Well, we haven't solved the problem yet, but we have gotten great ideas of how to get there. Maybe I'll ask if any of our panelists have concluding comments to make. If you could, please, Lars.
>> LARS EGGERT: Sure. Thank you. This is an interesting panel and thank you for the questions. They were very good as well. I just want to say, I'm here all week if somebody wants to chat about the IGF and I can bore you with way more protocol acronyms than I did in this talk. I'm here. You can reach me at [email protected], and see you around.
>> PEGGY HICKS: Thanks, Lars. Bilel Jamoussi, would you like to come back in? Any concluding thoughts?
>> BILEL JAMOUSSI: No, just wanted it thank you for the opportunity. Certainly enjoyed the conversation. And I would just add one other point, is that, in addition to the various entry points to participate, we also have a number of fee‑exempt organizations, including Civil Society who are members of the ITU. And so, that is, of course, another venue that the ITU Council on a regular basis will admit members on a fee exemption basis when it is in the best interests of the community. So, that is another element I wanted to add to the various possibilities of participating. But really enjoyed being with you today remotely. And you can find me at ITU.int or LinkedIn, if you want to continue the dialogue. Thank you.
>> PEGGY HICKS: Great, thanks. And thanks for that addition. I want to emphasize that part of this is really about looking at what some of the good practices already are and replicating them. Because you know, we are talking about a community of standard development organizations, and we've heard about some examples here, but there's obviously a lot of people that aren't in the room as well to bring forward. Mehwish, would you like to come in with any concluding thoughts?
>> MEHWISH ANSARI: Just to echo my co‑panelists in thanking you very much for convening the session. I think it was a very interesting discussion. Yeah, I think moving into a conversation around how we can actually move through those barriers and what those kinds of accountability mechanisms look like is a really interesting next step to take the conversation and one that I hope that we can continue. If anyone is interested in the work that Article 19 does or Civil Society interested in getting involved, more involved in standard‑setting, please feel free to reach out to us at article19.org, and we'd be happy to continue the conversation. Thank you.
>> PEGGY HICKS: Great. Well, I just want to thank all of our panelists and to just say a few words about the role of our organization going forward. First of all, I neglected to ‑‑ oh, sorry ‑‑ I'll give ‑‑ no, it's okay. We were just giving everybody a chance to do any concluding thoughts. But maybe, not to rush you? Anything you'd like to add in before I do my little closing? Okay, great, thank you. So, I neglected to introduce my colleague, Yoojin Kim, who is our focal point on The Technical Standard‑setting and Human Rights Project that we're engaged in at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and we have online Scott Campbell, who heads up our work on digital technology and Human Rights. They're the best contact points for this. But we have a mandate from the UN Human Rights Council to really look at this issue, to look at the good practices, to look at gaps and areas where things might be able to be improved. And we're engaged already in a process of expert consultations ‑‑ about a dozen or so have been done so far. And we're pulling together a larger expert consultation in February that will then feed into a report that will go to the UN Human Rights Council in June. So, all of this will be food for that exercise. So, thank you all so much for participating.
We do see that as really just a first step. We hope to put things on the table that can, as I said, you know, spur things forward in terms of some of the areas that we identify as needing further improvement, but also spreading good practices and ideas that will be helpful. But as with the standards implementation as well, we see it as something that will require us to continue to engage over a period of time, and you know, really look forward to your comments and thoughts on the role of our office in that process and how we can be helpful. So, please feel free to give us feedback on this important topic as well. And thank you all for your active participation here today. Thanks.