The Age of Digital Interdependence

9 December 2019 Heather Dailey Author avatar
Digital Cooperation UN Secretary-General's High-Level Panel Report of the UN Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation Reference:{802238075386540f56ff51177b29e561e146d6ad749d3ad56f8d94eb00021cb8}20web.pdf Growing opportunities created by the application of digital technologies are paralleled by stark abuses and unintended consequences. As technological change has accelerated, the mechanisms for cooperation and governance of this landscape have failed to keep pace. Divergent approaches and ad hoc responses threaten to fragment the interconnectedness that defines the digital age, leading to competing standards and approaches, lessening trust and discouraging cooperation. Sensing the urgency of the moment, in July 2018 the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) appointed this Panel to consider the question of “digital cooperation” – the ways we work together to address the social, ethical, legal and economic impact of digital technologies in order to maximise their benefits and minimise their harm. Such cooperation must be grounded in common human values – such as inclusiveness, respect, human-centredness, human rights, international law, transparency and sustainability. After an introduction which highlights the urgency of improved digital cooperation and invites readers to commit to a Declaration of Digital Interdependence, our report focuses on three broad sets of interlocking issues, each of which is discussed in one subsequent chapter. Chapter 2 argues that to capture the power of digital technologies we need to cooperate on the broader ecosystems that enable digital technologies to be used in an inclusive manner. Chapter 3 underscores the fact that universal human rights apply equally online as offline, but that there is an urgent need to examine how time-honoured human rights frameworks and conventions should guide digital cooperation and digital technology. Chapter 4 discusses mechanisms for global digital cooperation as it identifies gaps and challenges in current arrangements for global digital cooperation and summarises the functions any future cooperation architecture could perform and what principles could underpin them.  The following section of the report covers recommendations for global digital interdependence. The hope of this report and its recommendations is that it will form part of the building blocks of an inclusive and interdependent digital world, with a fit-for-purpose new governance architecture - a future in which improved digital cooperation can support the achievement of the SDGs, reduce inequalities, bring people together, enhance international peace and security, and promote economic opportunity and environmental sustainability.

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