Giswatch 2017 – National and Regional Internet Governance Forum Initiatives

Giswatch 2017 – National and Regional Internet Governance Forum Initiatives Introduction This report is focuses on the Bosnia and Herzegovina Internet Governance Forum (IGF), the primary platform for internet governance discussions in the country. It suggests how the IGF offers a vital platform for consensus building in a country troubled by political and ethnic divisions. Policy, economic and political background Bosnia and Herzegovina is a small country located in South East Europe. It gained independence in 1992, and shortly after that the country entered into a period of armed conflict (1992-1995). The armed conflict ended with the signing of the Dayton Peace agreement in December 1995, which forms part of the current Constitution. Bosnia and Herzegovina is described as a post-conflict, transitional country where society and state are divided along ethnic lines into the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republica Srpska and Brčko District. However, the reconciliation and recovery process in the country is ongoing and new perspectives are becoming more and more important. In this context, the Bosnia and Herzegovina IGF2 is a fresh new start. As a multistakeholder event, it is based on listening to what diverse stakeholders have to say, including government, business, civil society, the technical community, academia and the media. Every opinion is important, and in this sense we consider the IGF a “real democracy”, a space which Bosnia and Herzegovina needs. At the beginning of our collaboration… The Bosnia and Herzegovina IGF was started two years ago with the intention of promoting cooperation and collaboration between different stakeholders, and to have an impact on internet governance at a policy-making level. This is an important aim in a country where political instability can...

2014: The continuum of surveillance

2014: The continuum of surveillance Introduction Dissent has its grounding in the understanding of individuals, groups or communities about their entitlement to rights. When it comes to privacy, security, and the internet in general, citizens in Bosnia and Herzegovina are still far from considering themselves entitled to rights. Yet like anyone else in the world they actively use technology and social media to get informed and communicate with friends. Activists use the internet and in particular social networks such as Facebook to engage the general public and to organise protests against the political establishment. For many who do not know much about Bosnia and Herzegovina, the immediate association is with the Balkans War of the 1990s and the fall of Yugoslavia. For human rights activists, Bosnia and Herzegovina holds the title of the most corrupt country in the western Balkans. It is also the only country in the region which still has to sign the pre-accession agreement to the European Union due to a stalemate on constitutional reform and the unwillingness of its politicians to negotiate necessary cross-party agreements and to go beyond rigid ethnic quotas. A good example of this situation is the country’s failure to comply with the anti-discrimination decision of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Sejdic-Finci1)Wakelin, E. (2012, October 31). The Sejdic and Finci Case: More Than Just a Human Rights Issue? E‑International Relations. www.e-ir.info/2012/10/31/the-sejdic-and-finci-case-more-than-just-a-human-rights-issue-for-bosnia-and-herzegovina regarding his eligibility for official posts. This meant five years of deadlock on constitutional reforms, and left citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina trapped in the narrow and discriminatory framework of the Dayton Peace Agreement.2)The General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia...

2012: The internet and corruption

2012: The internet and corruption The collective memory of the undone and the damage Introduction: Overview of a region rife with corruption and bribery The daily chronicle of this small region is one of corruption and bribery. That is what emerges from media reporting on the trial of the former prime minister of Croatia, 1)“In Croatia a trial of a former prime minister starts next month, promising to open a window on widespread political corruption over the past decade. Ivo Sanader is pleading innocent to charges that he and his ruling Croatian Democratic Union party (HDZ), which ran the country for most of the past 20 years, siphoned off nearly €10m (£8m) from privatisation proceeds into party funds. Sanader is already being tried on two further sets of graft charges.” www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/mar/29/central-europe-centre-right-corruption-claims – and is confirmed by the arrest of Nazmi Mustafi, Kosovo’s top anti-corruption prosecutor, over “allegations he took bribes to drop corruption charges against powerful individuals.”3)www.rferl.org/content/kosovar_anticorruption_prosecutor_arrested_for_corruption/24536494.html According to the Business Anti-Corruption portal, compared to the regional average, Albania “is the country where the highest percentage of companies expects to give gifts in order to get a government contract.”2)www.business-anti-corruption.com/country-profiles/europe-central-asia/albania/snapshot The situation is no different in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where, this June, the Centre for the Study of Democracy (CSD) in Bulgaria and Centre for Investigative Reporting (CIN) in Sarajevo published the report “Countering Corruption in Bosnia and Herzegovina 2001-2011″.4)www.csd.bg/artShow.php?id=16084 This shows that over the past 10 years corruption in Bosnia and Herzegovina has increased, while the actual participation of citizens in corrupt activities has subsided.5)www.againstcorruption.eu/articles/new-report-on-anti-corruption-in-bosnia-and-herzegovina-published Very similar is the situation in Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia, where a “leading political cartel” manages the public good...

2011 – Internet rights and democratisation

2011 – Internet rights and democratisation Is online media an ally for social justice? Trapped between hate and inflammatory speech Introduction  Bosnia and Herzegovina is a small country in south-east Europe [See the Bosnia and Herzegovina country report in GISWatch 2007]. There are a number of well-known words and phrases that locate it in the geopolitical landscape: “Former Yugoslavia”, “Balkans wars” (1992 -1995), “Dayton Peace Agreement”, “Srebrenica”, “genocide”, “war”, “rapes”, “ethnic division”, “Serbs”, “Bosniaks/Muslims”, “Croats”, “reconciliation”, “mass graves”… The list goes on. If we consider the information and communications technology (ICT) context, there are interesting phenomena that can be observed which are a reflection of the highly fragmented and still conflict-ridden macro-political situation. Bosnia and Herzegovina still does not have a National Agency for the Information Society. However, it has three academic research networks (BiHARNET, FARNET and SARNET) [See the Bosnia and Herzegovina country report in GISWatch 2008 and 2009 ], in line with the three ethnic groups in the country, and the top-level domain .ba is not the default for public institutions in the country. The use of the three telecom operators (BH Telecom, M:tel and Eronet) also corresponds roughly to the three ethnic communities. Nationalism is strong and otherness is the main draw card used by political parties to divide people. Policy and political background  If we look at freedom of expression and association, access to information, and media freedoms generally, Bosnia and Herzegovina has an advanced legal framework [“BH is the most advanced in the legal environment and the least advanced in the quality of journalism.” ARTICLE 19, the Global Campaign for Free Expression, International Federation of Journalists (2005) Case Studies of Media...

2010 – ICTs and Environmental Sustainability

2010 – ICTs and Environmental Sustainability Introduction It seems that after a long sleep, Bosnia and Herzegovina is waking up and taking a position among the countries that are reflecting on climate change and their contribution to it, and on the role of information and communications technologies (ICTs) in this context. This year, a number of events support this observation. One of them was a regional conference which brought to light two new organisations: the IT Services Management Forum (itSMF) of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which organised the conference, and the Energis Centre for Education and Raising Awareness of Energy. This year also saw the launch of a website on climate change which concluded a long effort by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) office in Bosnia and Herzegovina for the adoption of the Initial National Communication (INC) report under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Both events happened in the last days of May 2010. For those following the ICT scene in Bosnia and Herzegovina it has been reminiscent of 2004 when, thanks to the efforts of the UNDP office, the policy, strategy and action plan for the development of an information society were adopted and signed by the Bosnia and Herzegovina Council of Ministers. Furthermore, green civil society actors have been encouraged to use the Aarhus Convention and become more and more visible through the strategic use of ICTs for networking and communication. Policy and legislative context Bosnia and Herzegovina signed the UNFCCC in 2000, and a UNFCCC Focal Point was nominated: the Ministry of Physical Planning, Civil Engineering and Ecology of the Republic of Srpska. 1)Bosnia and Herzegovina encompasses two...

2009 – Access to Online Information and Knowledge

2009 – Access to Online Information and Knowledge Introduction Freedom of information, as a right, is not stated expressly in the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, but it is protected indirectly. A Freedom of Access to Information Act (FOIA) was passed in 2000, with Bosnia and Herzegovina the first state of the Western Balkan countries to adopt it. One year later the FOIA had been passed by both entities. 1)Bosnia and Herzegovina encompasses two entities with their own governments and parliaments: the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republika Srpska. There is also one internationally supervised district, the Brcko District. This system of government was established by the Dayton Agreement to guarantee the representation of the country’s three major groups (Muslims, Serbs and Croats), with each having a veto on anything that goes against what is defined as “the vital interest of the constituent people.” However, by 2006, according to a survey done by the Centre for Free Access to Information, the FOIA was one of those acts that existed on paper, but had never actually been implemented. 2)From September 2005 to September 2006, a project called the Full Implementation of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in Bosnia and Herzegovina was implemented, aiming to increase the transparency and responsibility of all public organs in Bosnia and Herzegovina. See: www.cspi.ba Today most institutions have appointed information officers and prepared a guidebook where citizens are informed of their rights and the necessary procedures to obtain information. An information ombudsman has been appointed within the Ombudsman Institution of Bosnia and Herzegovina to “examine the activities of public authorities in relation to this Act, either upon receiving an application...