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Friday, May 17 • 09:00 - 10:00
Plenary session - Defending the democratic space in a digital era

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About the session:
Human rights defenders and pro-democracy actors are increasingly the only counterbalances to a global trend of populist politics, polarised societies, adverse state cyber activities and profit-maximising algorithms.

At the same time, the issues at hand have never been more challenging: challenges to online democratic space now exist across the technological, political, economic and social spectra, while resources remain limited. New duty bearers and influential actors, including in the private sector, must be brought into a rights-based global discourse. Some existing institutions, previously lacking sufficient knowledge and interest in online issues, are starting to wield their influence, but remain disconnected from the many years of rights-based discussion on these issues.

This session will build on previous panels and be forward-looking. It will:
- Discuss priorities, methods and avenues for maximum impact to protect and expand the online democratic space
- Identify solutions, concrete tools, platforms and strategies for improving online democratic space in a dynamic, conflicting and increasingly hostile global political environment;
- It identifies solutions, discuss tensions rights-holders/duty-bearers, and how traditional and new mechanisms are equipped for dealing with online challenges.

Questions that the panel will discuss:
  • What are the counter-strategies? Who is defending the space and how? Best practice, lessons learned and inspiring examples?
  • What does accountability look like in a digital age? Has international, regional and national systems and mechanisms kept pace with the fast development on the internet and the intersection of human rights violations online and offline?
  • How can stakeholders - UN, development cooperation, companies, civil society - work together to increase impact? What roles can these stakeholders play to defend the democratic space?

avatar for Alexandria Walden

Alexandria Walden

Global Head of Human Rights, Google
Alexandria is the global policy lead for human rights and free expression at Google. Alexandria drives Google’s work on business and human rights to support responsible approaches to policies across all Google’s products. Based in Washington, DC, Alexandria coordinates policy... Read More →
avatar for Berhan Taye

Berhan Taye

Campaigner, #KeepItOn Lead, Access Now
Berhan Taye leads Access Now’s #KeepItOn campaign, a global campaign to stop internet shutdowns and censorship with a coalition of more than 150 member organizations from across the world. Before joining Access Now, she was a researcher for the Technology for Social Justice Field... Read More →
avatar for Nathalie Besèr

Nathalie Besèr

SIF Moderator
I am the main moderator at SIF2019. I work as an adviser to 16 MPs. For many years I was a Middle East Correspondent to the leading Swedish Daily Dagens Nyheter and before that a producer, radio host and journalist at the Swedish Radio. I also used to work at the Swedish news agency... Read More →

Clément Voule

Special Rapporteur on Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association, United Nations

Kate Gilmore

Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights,, The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Peter Eriksson

Minister for International Development Cooperation, Sweden

Friday May 17, 2019 09:00 - 10:00 CEST