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Update on negotiations for the Global Digital Compact

Posted in: Global Digital Compact May 30, 2024
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Update on negotiations for the Global Digital Compact

The next stage of negotiations for the UN’s Global Digital Compact is underway with the release of the First revised version.

This version has been released alongside an update to the negotiating timetable. Member states will convene again on 6 and 7 June to discuss the latest version of the GDC, with further negotiations planned for 20th and 21 June.

The new version has some strengthened language on key areas of interest to us. But at the same time the proposed monitoring and review mechanisms have been weakened somewhat.

The Good News

  • There is still a standalone objective on Gender Equality in the document. We’ve recently had confirmation that it is the advocacy from our coalition which resulted in the inclusion of this principle. The Principle has been renamed ‘Gender Equality and Empowerment’.
  • There is some stronger language on protecting the environment from the impacts of digital technologies, which addresses the increased resource consumption of digital tech in terms of energy, water and mineral consumption.
  • There is some new language on mainstreaming gender perspectives in digital connectivity strategies.
  • The section on digital literacy recommends the systemic disaggregation of data and gender statistics in national digital inclusion surveys. This will help address closing the ‘gender digital divide’, where 62% of men globally have access to the internet, but only 57% of women have access.
  • There is some stronger language on looking at the impacts of digitalisation on work and employment. As well as delivering vocational training for workers impacted by digitisation and automation, there is also now a reference to mitigating potential negative consequences for workforces and promoting decent work.
  • There are additional references to adhering to international human rights law. But there is nothing yet on our suggestion that ‘Equality by Design’ principles should be followed in tech development and deployment. although there is a new mention of ‘human rights due diligence’
  • The prevention of gender-based violence which occurs through or is amplified by the use of technology is still in the text.
  • The language on equitable data governance has been strengthened.

What’s Not So Good

  • There is slightly weaker language on holding social media platforms accountable for establishing reporting mechanisms for policy violations. But there is a new reference to needing social media platforms to obtain informed consent in handling users personal data.
  • There is still a reference to the setting up of an International Scientific Panel on AI and emerging tech. But the reference to organising an annual ‘international global dialogue’ on AI governance, which involves CSOs, has been removed and replaced with the idea of an ‘international contact group on AI governance’ which will largely be a member-state affair.
  • The High-Level Review of the Global Digital Compact is proposed to take place during the 81st session of the General Assembly, which is a delay of a year. 
  • Although there are some additional mentions of measures like the collection of gender disaggregated statistics, the principle on gender equality and empowerment has not yet been fully ‘mainstreamed’ throughout the document.
  • And although there is some new language about the environmental impacts of new technology, the commitments could still be stronger and better mainstreamed in the document.

We’ll continue to engage with governments on what language we think should be included in the final version of the GDC. And we’ll keep you updated!

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