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From the Brussels Declaration on Trade and the Internet:

We are an expert group of stakeholders representing Internet users, consumers, innovative businesses, cultural institutions, and scholars. We recognize the considerable social and economic benefits that could flow from an international trading system that is fair, sustainable, democratic, and accountable. These goals can only be achieved through processes that ensure effective public participation.

Modern trade agreements are negotiated in closed, opaque and unaccountable fora, that lack democratic safeguards and are vulnerable to undue influence. These are not simply issues of principle; the secrecy prevents negotiators from having access to all points of view and excludes many stakeholders with demonstrable expertise that would be valuable to the negotiators. This is particularly notable in relation to issues that have impacts on the online and digital environment, which have been increasingly subsumed into trade agreements over the past two decades.

The procedural deficits that define modern trade agreement negotiations have resulted in instruments that are unduly deferential to the interests of a narrow class of established industry stakeholders, and fail to address the needs of broader affected communities. This stands in stark contrast to the more open Internet governance process norms, to which the governments that negotiate trade agreements also notionally subscribe, which if fully realized would be better adapted to incorporate the values of these communities, such as free expression and cultural facilitation, into trade policies.

Any international rulemaking process that affects the online and digital environment should adhere to human rights and good governance obligations to actively disseminate information, promote public participation and provide access to justice in governmental decision-making.

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Latest projects

  • Dynamic Coalition on Trade and the Internet (12/12/2016 05:36 PM)

    This is the home of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) Dynamic Coalition on Trade and the Internet, which is currently under formation.

    Why a Dynamic Coalition on Trade and the Internet?

    Many Internet governance issues that are discussed at the IGF are also the subject of rulemaking through bilateral, plurilateral and multilateral trade agreements. The purpose of this Dynamic Coalition is to provide an interface for the exchange of information and best practices between the negotiators of these trade agreements and the bodies in which they work, and the Internet Governance Forum and its multi-stakeholder community. This information exchange will be both substantive (that is, concerning particular Internet public policy issues) and also procedural (that is, about how Internet public policy can be developed in a transparent and inclusive way).

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