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Last updated: Version 2.3 (Updated May 15, 2018).

Friday, May 18 • 16:00 - 17:00
What could diplomats do better to reinforce civic space?

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Governments carry a specific responsibility in the human rights field due to their formal decision-making power and financial resources. Digital developments challenge the classic concepts of diplomacy and diplomatic practices. One of the aims of the Dutch government is to counter the current worrying trend of shrinking civic space. A significant element of that trend consists of digital challenges.

To adapt to these circumstances, the toolbox of diplomats has to evolve and governments need experience and brainpower of other stakeholders to make the right decisions. What could diplomats do better? Is the diplomatic toolbox still accurate? Do they need new tools?

The objective of this session at RightsCon is to formulate solutions for the Netherlands and like-minded governments to help countering the digital threats that narrow the space for civil society to speak out. This could be achieved through a critical assessment of the existing diplomatic toolbox with current digital challenges for civil society in mind. The assessment should be able to identify best practices and lacunas on the side of the government.

Experienced diplomats will introduce the diplomatic toolbox, followed by an initial assessment from different perspectives i.e. digital security experts, tool developers, civil society organisations and human rights defenders. After this the floor is open to gather insights from participants. The discussion will concentrate on two or three specific examples, however without limiting the discussion to other aspects or approaches.

Ideally, the result is a proposal for policy change or reinforcement that is supported by all participants and can be proposed to the participating governments. In the Netherlands, wide support by other stakeholders gained through consultation is a crucial element for new policy initiatives to succeed.

avatar for Lisa Vermeer

Lisa Vermeer

Senior Policy Officer, Dutch MFA
Senior Policy Advisor on Human Rights and InternetDutch Focal Point for the Freedom Online CoalitionManaging Dutch Internet Freedom project portfolio Human Rights FundFormer advisor to Dutch MPs on EU Justice and Home affairs, former research fellow at the Scientific Council for Government... Read More →


Gillo Cutrupi

Digital Integrity Fellow, Digital Defenders Partnership
avatar for Nighat Dad

Nighat Dad

Founder and Director, Digital Rights Foundation

Sacha van Geffen

CEO @ Greenhost

Friday May 18, 2018 16:00 - 17:00 EDT