IGF 2023 Open Forum #109 Leveraging the FOC at International Organizations

Wednesday, 11th October, 2023 (23:30 UTC) - Thursday, 12th October, 2023 (00:30 UTC)
WS 7 – Room K

Panel - 60 Min


As Internet freedom continues to decline globally, the Freedom Online Coalition (FOC) has a vital role to play in promoting values of democracy and human rights online. The FOC, established in 2011, is a group of 38 countries committed to protecting and promoting human rights online, including freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly, and privacy rights.

The FOC, the only multilateral organization solely dedicated to promoting and protecting human rights online, facilitates multistakeholder engagement at the intersection of technology and human rights by bringing government members into dialogue with technology companies, civil society organizations, and academics through the FOC Advisory Network (FOC-AN). The FOC is thus uniquely positioned to empower a diverse range of stakeholders to collaborate in ensuring the Internet and digital technologies remain free, open, interoperable, secure, and reliable.

In this session, Canada, the United States and the Netherlands, the past, current, and future government Chairs of the FOC, will be joined by two non-governmental FOC-AN stakeholders to discuss opportunities and challenges of using the FOC to advocate for human rights defenders (HRDs), civil society, journalists, and other stakeholders in multilateral institutions and processes.

FOC advocacy tools include issuing joint statements and engaging in international organizations and multilateral processes and fora. Canada, the 2022 FOC Chair, will speak to the FOC’s engagement at the United Nations (UN), including in shaping UNESCO’s recommendations for “Ethics of Artificial Intelligence.” The United States, as the current Chair of the FOC, will highlight capacity building efforts within the FOC to strengthen existing coordination efforts in diplomatic networks. The Netherlands, as the 2024 Chair of the FOC, will reflect on how to use the lessons learned over the past two years to enhance the FOC’s ability to shape global norms. FOC-AN stakeholders will share their perspectives from the civil society and/or private sector on the FOC’s advocacy efficacy within the UN system. Participants will be invited to pose questions following the panel discussion.


Freedom Online Coalition; United States Government (FOC Chair 2023)

  • Allison Peters (Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, United States)
  • Aaryn Zhou (Deputy Director, Global Affairs Canada)
  • Ernst Noorman (Ambassador for Cyber Affairs, the Netherlands)
  • Veronica Ferrari (Global Policy Advocacy Coordinator, Association for Progressive Communications)
  • Boye Adegoke (Senior Manager, Paradigm Initiative)
Onsite Moderator

Maria Paz Canales, Global Partners Digital (GPD)

Online Moderator

Nicholas Powell, Comms and Events Manager, FOC Support Unit


Zora Gouhary, Project Manager



Targets: SDG 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. The FOC provides a platform for multistakeholder engagement and enhances participation of governments, companies, civil society organizations, and others in international and multilateral institutions, thereby contributing to the development of more inclusive institutions that are responsive to stakeholder interests. As the FOC is the only organization working solely at the intersection of technology and human rights, this group is uniquely positioned to provide insight to the broader IGF community. This panel will highlight lessons learned, best practices, and recommendations for future engagement by the FOC in international fora, thereby promoting the development of accountable and inclusive institutions. SDG 17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize The Global Partnership for Sustainable Development. The FOC is a global coalition with member governments from every region, facilitating interactions between North-South and South-South countries, and public-private and civil society partnerships through its membership structure, which includes 37 countries and an Advisory Network comprised of representatives from the private sector, civil society, and academia. This discussion will highlight how the FOC shapes global norms around the development, deployment, and use of digital technologies in ways that respect human rights.