It might be 10th global Internet Governance Forum happening in Brazil in November 2015, but small country in the heart of Europe – Bosnia and Herzegovina – on October 1st 2015 just joined global Internet Governance landscape with first national Internet Governance Forum (#BHIGF).
Different stakeholder groups and individuals in Bosnia and Herzegovina are active in their own fields of expertise, but there has always been lack of inter-stakeholder collaboration – and it was about time for us to join the dialogue on IG in regional and global spaces – through national joined initiative.
How it all started?
National IGF initiative started 3 years ago when small group of individuals and enthusiasts from BiH, attending other IG events, felt the need of such an event on national level. The time for it was not right at the time.
Three years later, One World Platform (OWP) as civil society organisation present in regional and global IG policy spaces for years either as promoter of human and internet rights through gender perspective, as a member of the largest international civil society organisation Association for Progressive Communication, for having representative in Multistakeholder Advisory Group to the IGF under the patronage of UN (MAG), or as part of organising committee of first Southeast European Dialogue on Internet Governance (SEEDIG) – renewed the efforts of organising first national Internet Governance Forum of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The date was set for October 1st 2015, in Sarajevo.
It was great encouragement that on international level BHIGF initiative was supported from the start by Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and Association for Progressive Communications (APC).
After SEEDIG and EuroDIG meetings in Sofia, Bulgaria – OWP team met with Communications Regulatory Agency of Bosnia and Herzegovina and established solid collaboration as coorganizers representing government body to BHIGF 2015.
Furthermore, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina recognised the value of such multistakeholder space for dialogue on Internet Governance and the overall event for 2015 was held under their auspices. We use this opportunity to thank Mr. Nebojša Regoje in front of Ministry for his continuous support throughout the BHIGF process.
Along the way, as the voice of BHIGF was getting louder we are honoured to have gained diverse support from distinguished international organisations such as Council of Europe supporting the event and giving the opportunity to young students from BiH to participate in the event, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Internet Governance Forum Support Association, DiploFoundation, RIPE NCC and CORE Association.
Forum was held under the overreaching theme: “INTERNET FOR ALL – Opportunities and Challenges within Internet Governance in Bosnia and Herzegovina”, as one day event.
Pre-session “Get to know and engage with ICANN!” was held only for students from Bosnia and Herzegovina by Andrea Beccalli – Stakeholder Engagement Manager for Europe from ICANN.
BHIGF was opened with welcome speech by Aida Mahmutović from One World Platform in front of the organisers, followed by keynote speeches addressed by: Deniz Yazici in front of OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Silvia Grundmann – Head of Media and Internet Division in front of Council of Europe, Andrea Beccalli – Stakeholder Engagement Manager Europe in front of ICANN and Nebojša Regoje – Head of Office for Public Relations in front of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of BiH.
Working part of Forum was split in two sessions*:
“ABC’s of Internet Governance” moderated by Vladimir Radunović from DiploFoundation and coo-moderated by Aida Mahmutović from OWP, and panelists: Nebojša Regoje – in front of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of BiH, Ljiljana Zurovac – Press Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Athina Fragkouli – RIPE NCC, Mario Janeček – Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Srđan Rajčević – Agency for Information Society of Republic Srpska, with guests from the region: Iliya Bazlyankov, Bulgaria – CORE Association, Dušan Stojčević, Serbia – RINDS, Nataša Glavor, Croatia – CARNet. Session rapporteur Feđa Kulenović
“What do you mean by Internet Rights” moderated by Valentina Pellizzer from OWP, and panelists: Silvia Grundmann – Council of Europe, Smari McCarthy – OCCRP and IMMI, Desiree Milošević – Affilias, Mario Hibert – University of Sarajevo. Session Rapporteur: Hana Ćurak
*This is short overview on sessions. For more information on two sessions please visit: https://oneworldplatform.net/en/bh-igf-en/
The Forum was closed with joint conclusions by Emir Povlakić from Communications Regulatory Agency of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Valentina Pellizzer from OWP.
Objectives of the Forum
- Raise awareness and promote better understanding of the Internet as an open platform for all stakeholders (government, business sector, civil society, technical community, academia, media)
- Contribute to a better understanding of roles and responsibilities stakeholders have in Internet Governance. Do we need a national strategy?
- Create a framework for discussions on the role of internet in empowering the exercise of human rights and promoting the rule of law and democracy
Focus was on explaining Internet Governance as such, mapping the priorities for Bosnia and Herzegovina, understanding the need to get actively involved, to hear different stakeholder perspectives in the country as well as best practices from our guests – experts from the region and global landscape. The human rights and internet rights session was focused on key issues from our everyday life which includes online harassment, accessibility, surveillance, and was talked about how mechanisms and possibilities of state protecting its citizens in virtual space without crossing the line of privacy, rapid development of technology and state’s possibility to keep up with the pace.
Having in mind different individuals within cyberspace the discussion also focused on various risks that these different (digital) identities face with (minorities, women, LGBTIQ, people with disabilities).
BHIGF 2015 truly represented a space for open, inclusive and informal dialogue for all interested stakeholders (government, business sector, civil society, technical community, academia and media) interested in sharing, shaping and contributing to straighten Internet Governance in BiH, with strong encouragement for gender equality participation, which following statistics will show:
- Final number of registered was 140 in total.
- Number of participants that showed up in Forum was 109 – 57 male and 52 female.
- Government – 39
- Civil Society – 23
- Private Sector – 6
- Academia** – 35
- Technical community – 10
- Media – 6
Continuing BHIGF process as an imperative
First Internet Governance Forum in Bosnia and Herzegovina placed us in global Internet Governance agenda.
Panelists and audience agreed upon one major issue: contextualisation.
During BHIGF panels we constantly reminded ourselves that IG topics have to be relevant for social and political issues that our country is currently dealing with. State’s political context per se (two entities and District that have different laws and constitutions) made IG dialogue challenging.
One of the traits of the Internet is globality, but all regulations should begin on the national level.
Panelists and audience also agreed upon inclusion of media literacy and internet literacy in educational system agendas.
Even though there is an ongoing debate about lack of women in regional and global Internet Governance policy spaces (such as in global IGF), BHIGF provided us with somewhat different picture. Number of women and men in panels and audience was equal.
This event was fruitful and inspiring in terms of topics that need to be tackled for the next year’s events. By this we don’t only mean next BHIGF but all the other surrounding conversations, round tables and dialogues between different multistakeholders that need to happen.
As an overall conclusion we can point out that these different stakeholders don’t have the opportunity to meet and have a dialogue on topics that relate to Internet Governance, and this is why it is important to realise that we have a collective responsibility in the world of IG in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and we should not run away from it.
Until BHIGF 2016 we invite you to stay in touch with us and give us your feedback and propose ways for multistakeholder collaboration. Contributions can be made at firstname.lastname@example.org
* Some of participants to the forum represented more then one stakeholder group
** Academia includes fellow students