On September 20, the United States, as the 2023 Chair of the Freedom Online Coalition (FOC), convened Ministers from the Coalition’s member states, key Group of 77 (G77) partners on technology policy, and other relevant stakeholders for a high-level event on the margins of the 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. The FOC is an intergovernmental coalition committed to promoting and protecting human rights online.
The event was co-hosted by U.S. Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Uzra Zeya and Ambassador-at-Large for Cyberspace and Digital Policy Nathaniel Fick. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken provided keynote remarks highlighting the priorities of the United States and partners on rights-respecting and inclusive approaches to digital technologies in order to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and emphasizing the importance of global coordination on these issues. Secretary Blinken announced the United States’ commitment under its FOC Chairship to advance the development of a governmental pledge relating to the responsible use and procurement of artificial intelligence systems. Foreign Minister Hanke Bruins Slot of the Netherlands also provided remarks and announced that the Netherlands will take over the chairship of the FOC in 2024.
The moderated roundtable discussion featured interventions from Cabo Verde, Czechia, Denmark, the Gambia, India, The Maldives, and the United Kingdom in addition to the International Telecommunications Union’s Secretary General and representatives of the FOC’s independent multistakeholder Advisory Network, Wikimedia Foundation, the Association for Progressive Communication, Microsoft, and Google. Panelists discussed key challenges and opportunities relating to advancing connectivity, promoting access and inclusion, and using technology as an enabler of rights. The convening reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to promote inclusive and rights-respecting digital policy together with Coalition members, and to explore opportunities to collaborate with key G77 governments in pursuit of these efforts.