IGF 2023 Open Forum #157 Donor Principles for Human Rights in the Digital Age: Turning Principles into Action (Freedom Online Coalition (FOC) session)

Tuesday, 10th October, 2023 (23:30 UTC) - Wednesday, 11th October, 2023 (01:00 UTC)
WS 6 – Room E


Other - 90 Min
Format description: : Launch event - 30 minutes high-level remarks. Breakout sessions - 60 minutes. Participants will be divided into multistakeholder groups. Each group will answer a series of questions related to the actioning of the Donor Principles. The moderators will provide the initial instructions for the breakout sessions to everyone to create more engagement between the online group and the onsite group. Rapporteurs from each group will take notes in a shared Google doc. Participants will reconvene and share key points from their discussions, and moderators will facilitate discussion based on those points.


This event will launch the Donor Principles for Human Rights in the Digital Age, a set of principles that establishes an international framework for donor accountability and cooperation on digital issues, such that digital engagements and investments align with respect for human rights and democratic values. They respond to a call from civil society stakeholders for development agencies to introduce safeguarding procedures and processes related to digital development and digital transformation programming to better protect partners and local communities from growing instances of digital repression.  

The U.S. Government will close the launch by issuing a call to action for donor government partners to make concrete commitments to uphold the Donor Principles. They will look forward to hearing what concrete actions donors commit to at the third Summit for Democracy in the Republic of Korea, where the U.S. government plans to launch its own efforts

This event will also inform next steps on establishing a strategic approach for multistakeholder engagement on the implementation of the Donor Principles. Topics will include potential government commitments aligned with the principles, how civil society can leverage the Donor Principles for advocacy, and how and where to establish an accountability mechanism.

The Donor Principles were drafted and negotiated through the Freedom Online Coalition (FOC), a group of 38 member governments and multistakeholder Advisory Network committed to protecting human rights online and in digital contexts.They were also informed by external stakeholder feedback collected through an open public consultation process. The session is co-organised by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and IDRC (Canada’s International Development Research Center), co-Chairs of the FOC’s Funding Coordination Group, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Stat. The U.S. Government is the 2023 FOC Chair.


The session is co-organized by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and IDRC (Canada’s International Development Research Center), co-Chairs of the FOC’s Funding Coordination Group, in partnership with the U.S. Department of State, under the FOC Chairship of the U.S. Government in 2023.



  • Isobel Coleman, Deputy Administrator for Policy and Programming, USAID (via video)
  • Vera Zakem, Chief Digital Development and Rights Officer, USAID (in person) 
  • Allison Peters, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State (in person) 
  • Guus van Zwoll, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Netherlands (in person)
  • Nele Leosk, Ambassador-at-Large for Digital Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Estonia (in person)
  • Immaculate Kassait, Commissioner, Office of the Data Protection Commissioner, Kenya (virtual)
  • Juan Carlos Lara, Executive Director, Derechos Digitales (in person)
  • Zach Lampell, Senior Legal Advisory, International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL) (virtual)
  • Michael Karimian, Director of Digital Diplomacy, Microsoft (in person)
Onsite Moderator

Lisa Poggiali (USAID) and Sidney Leclercq (IDRC)

Online Moderator

Freedom Online Coalition Support Unit


Freedom Online Coalition Support Unit


9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

Targets: #17: The Donor Principles event will encourage engagement on technology and development issues by established and emerging stakeholders - including donor governments, foundations, technology companies, and the global investment community. By engaging these sources of funding in a conversation about rights-respecting investment, we hope to also inspire new resource mobilization. Additionally, this IGF event, the process of developing the Principles, and the operationalization process, will bring together global North and South countries for collaboration, knowledge sharing, and learning. #16: A current zero draft of the Principles engages directly with many aspects of SDG #16, including promoting a rules-based order, increasing transparency of institutions (including donor governments' institutions), as well as increasing the participation of global South stakeholders in decision making about technology's global governance. #9: This IGF event will discuss digital innovation and ways of expanding digital access hat respects human rights and advances, rather than undermines, democratic values