IGF 2023 Town Hall #64 R2P Grassroots Digital Alliances - Fight Fragmentation


Digital Sovereignty
International Legal Perspectives
Technical challenges of Internet fragmentation

Break-out Group Discussions - 90 Min


The global community faces increasing challenges related to internet fragmentation, including internet shutdowns, digital censorship, and restrictions on digital rights. The sharp rise in authoritarian internet shutdowns poses a significant threat to innocent people’s ability to have their voices heard in the face of brutal oppression. Additionally, there is a lack of actionable mechanisms for oppressed communities to call upon for the protection of their right to advocate for themselves. This reality perpetuates a persistent state of inaction by major countries and global organizations. Tragically, “out of sight out of mind” becomes the diplomatic procedural norm.

To address these pressing issues and foster collaboration between governments, civil society organizations, and other stakeholders, we propose a town hall that calls for further collaboration on the concept of “DIGITAL ALLIANCE TREATIES”
This town hall aims to explore the potential of these treaties, facilitate knowledge exchange, and encourage collective action to protect digital rights, preserve the openness of the internet, combat internet fragmentation, and ensure the protection of human rights.

By bringing together diverse participants, this town hall aims to generate actionable strategies and foster ongoing collaboration in this critical area by introducing the idea of establishing Digital Alliance Treaties that go beyond traditional notions of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) and encompass the protection of individuals’ right to have their voice on the global stage. This proposal outlines the structure and objectives of these treaties.

Following last years IGF one of the key takeaways in the report on Internet Fragmentation emphasized the critical need for vigilance in addressing the emerging risks of internet fragmentation. It highlights the importance of global cooperation and coordination among various stakeholders to identify early warning signs, assess the impact of policies, and prepare effective measures to counter the implications of such changes. The multi-stakeholder approach is particularly suited to evaluate and monitor the potential unintended consequences of measures affecting the Internet and to propose alternative solutions that mitigate the risks of fragmentation.

Digital Alliance Treaties serve as a mechanism to promote this multi-stakeholder approach, facilitating collaboration between governments, civil society organizations, and other stakeholders. These treaties provide a platform for collective assessment and evaluation of policies and developments that may contribute to internet fragmentation. By fostering global cooperation, they aim to maintain an open and interconnected digital space while mitigating the risks associated with fragmentation. Through ongoing monitoring and proactive measures, Digital Alliance Treaties help ensure that the unintended consequences of actions affecting the Internet are effectively identified and addressed, enabling the formulation of alternatives that promote a cohesive and accessible digital environment for all."

Below is the format with which we propose fostering innovation around this critical need.

Panel Discussions:
Panel 1: Understanding Digital Alliance Treaties - Principles, Structure, and Implementation. (online, in person)
Panel 2: Experiences and Best Practices in Combating Internet Fragmentation and Promoting Digital Rights. (online, in person)

Breakout Sessions: (in person) - coordinate affiliation with badges, or colored tags

Breakout Session 1: Collaboration Between Governments and Civil Society Organizations.
Breakout Session 2: Technological Innovations and Tools to Counter Internet Fragmentation.
Breakout Session 3: International Cooperation and Engagement with Multilateral Organizations.

Plenary Session:
Each group elects a representative to provide a report from each breakout session - sharing key insights and recommendations.
Group discussions on actionable strategies, next steps, and ongoing collaboration.

Closing Session:
Summary of discussions and key takeaways from the town hall.
Call to action for continued collaboration and implementation of Digital Alliance Treaties.


Harry Halpin / Internet Defense Alliance
Harry Halpin - Nym Technologie SA (tech sector) Western European and Others
Morshed Mannan - Coalition of Automated Legal Applications (civil society) Asia-Pacific States
Jarrell James - IDA (civil society) Intergovernmental Organization
Fatemeh Fannizadeh - IDA (civil society) Intergovernmental Organization
‘Gbénga Sésan - Paradigm HQ (tech sector) African Group
Maebel Gebremedhin - Tigray Action Committee (civil society) Intergovernmental Organization


Primavera De Filippi - CNRS, Harvard Berkman Klein Center (civil society) Western European and Others
Fatemeh Fannizadeh - IDA (civil society) Intergovernmental Organization
Moderator: Jarrell James - IDA (civil society) Intergovernmental Organization
‘Gbénga Sésan - Paradigm HQ (tech sector) African Group

Onsite Moderator

Jarrell James, Primavera De Filippi

Online Moderator

Harry Halpin


Primavera De Filippi, Jarrell James



Targets: Digital Alliance Treaties contribute to the achievement of SDG 9.c, which aims to “significantly increase access to information and communications technology and provide universal and affordable access to the Internet in least developed countries.” By prioritizing digital rights protection and fostering collaboration between global partners in the event of a shutdown or excessive slowdown, these treaties play a crucial role in eliminating barriers and promoting inclusive digital infrastructure development. They facilitate the sharing of knowledge, resources, and technical expertise among participating entities, enabling the creation of sustainable and accessible digital ecosystems in underserved regions. Digital Alliance Treaties enable governments, civil society organizations, and stakeholders to collaborate effectively in combating internet fragmentation. These treaties empower entities to engage in digital diplomatic advocacy, while also supporting the diversification of communication infrastructure. By doing so, they ensure that communities accross countries receive robust global support in cases where their access to and utilization of the Internet are impeded. This collective effort aims to safeguard the digital rights of individuals and foster an inclusive and connected digital environment worldwide.

In addition this concept contributes to the achievement of SDG 10.3 which aims to ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome, including by eliminating discriminatory laws, policies and practices and promoting appropriate legislation, policies and action. Digital Alliance Treaties have the potential to reduce inequalities by amplifying the voices of marginalized communities and supporting their right to advocate for themselves. These treaties prioritize the protection of individuals' right to have their voices heard, irrespective of borders and political boundaries. By actively advocating on behalf of parties affected by internet shutdowns or censorship, Digital Alliance Treaties ensure that their perspectives are represented on the global stage. This collective action and support from diverse allies help bridge the digital divide and promote inclusivity, contributing to the reduction of inequalities in access to information and digital opportunities.