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IGF 2018: Internet of Trust

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From 12 to 14 November 2018, the thirteenth Annual Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) was hosted by the Government of France at the Headquarters of UNESCO in Paris.

During this event, on 13 November, UNESCO presented the session “Preventing Youth Violence through ICTs” on the framework of the project “Prevention of youth violence through Communication and Information Technologies (ICT) in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras”, leaded by UNESCO and financed by the Spanish Cooperation Agency for International Development-AECID.

The proposal was selected among more than 300 applications, to participate in the IGF in November, in Paris. The session was the only instance during the IGF to discuss – along with governments, technology companies, academics and young people-, about the role of the internet in the prevention of violence in the LAC Region.

This session explored how ICTs affect youth violence in the Latin America Region, with particular focus to the North Triangle of Central-America and in comparative perspective with other latitudes. The issues discussed included how violent groups are using ICTs to influence youth, how ICTs can be used to prevent youth violence in the region, and constructive policy best practices to foster ICTs in the fight against youth violence.

The panel, moderated by UNESCO, was attended by a diverse group of stakeholders and driven by six expert speakers on the issue, from different institutions and diverse sectors, such as Government, Tech Companies, Youth Organizations, Think Tanks, Private Sector and Civil Society.

Although the event was held at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, it was also broadcasted online by the organization of the IGF and through UNESCO social media channels.

During the debate, speakers, firstly, presented the situation of their countries based on their expertise. Secondly, the moderator promoted the discussion among them to know their points of view about the advantages and risks the use of ICTs could have on this issue and, finally, they answered some lead questions.

The following can be stated as the key messages of the discussion:

  • Violent groups are using ICTs in Latin America, especially in North Triangle of Central America, to impact negatively the youth and it is important to take actions to prevent it.
  • Governments are not including ICTs in youth violence prevention policies. It is important to include them as a prevention tool than can be helpful to obtain better results: data analysis, participation mechanism, creative industries, Apps to fight violence are some of the ways.
  • Other regions around the world are using ICTs to prevent violence. It is important to know good practices in other areas of the world with similar violence problematic.

Moreover, policy recommendations and suggestions regarding potential next steps or actions to be driven emerged from the exchange. These are: 1) listen young people and empowering than are key considerations for decision makers; 2) media and information literacy policies should be taken more seriously, particularly regarding ethical issues, critical thinking and, their inclusion in standardized exams; 3) ICTs must be incorporate as component regarding preventing violence policies, both fostering its potentialities and mitigating the risks.

Furthermore, as for gender issues discussed, many panelists underlined the importance of discussing digital inequalities among men and women and how violence in the digital world affects differently men and women.

During the discussion held, there were more areas of agreement among participants than of divergence. Nevertheless, it is noteworthy that a key disagreement was around the role of the private sector, inasmuch as for some members of the panel, there is a potential conflict of interest imbedded in their activities in this area.

Regarding the relevance of the IGF ecosystem in order to make progress on this issue, all panelists agreed that a mutistakeholder approach should be also considered in this policy area. However, they alerted that the seriousness of the discussion involving violence, youth and ICTs, in LAC region, should gain more presence and attention within the IGF ecosystem.

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