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[Interview] Rafik Dammak, Tunisia - Youth Coalition on Internet Governance

We interviewed Rafik Dammak (IGCBP 2007) from Tunisia, who shares new information about the Youth Coalition on Internet Governance.

DIPLO Internet Governance Capacity Building Programme (IGCBP): Rafik, there is an important announcement for the launch of the Youth dynamic coalition. Can you tell us more about it?

Rafik Dammak: Thank you for this opportunity. As you mentioned, there will be an announcement of the launch of Youth Coalition on Internet Governance during open consultation.

The coalition is the great outcome and result of Youth and IG workshop that I moderated and organized with full participation of DiploFoundation, Egyptians and Finnish partners.

DIPLO IGCBP: Very interesting - congratulations! Can you tell us more about the historical background of this initiative?

Rafik Dammak: In fact it is an overdue project that many people wanted to do it since WSIS in order to encourage youth participation. It is a continuity to what many young people did during WSIS in phase one and phase two. We also started to define the concept in other format during the online round-table organized by DiploFoundation, IISD and IICD and was a proposal of participants in prior to IGF Rio de Janeiro.

DIPLO IGCBP: It is good to know that the ongoing work started years ago is producing results. What are the main goals of the coalition?

Rafik Dammak: The main goal of the coalition is to coordinate between all stakeholders having interests or involved on youth issues within the IG arena.

Sometimes it is not only thinking about project but also to find existing idea and to implement it. and I should confess that is really more complicated.

DIPLO IGCBP: What are the main reasons in your opinion that make the youth a differentiated group? What can the youth bring to the discussion of Internet governance?

Rafik Dammak: I think that there are some misunderstanding. it is not so differentiated group, it is just like any other BUT the age is an important element that let people excluding youth from participation in Internet Governance discussion and deny to them any opinion on policy making process.

Although Youth represent an important part of Internet users, their voices aren't listened or in many times there are proxies to speak on behalf of them. Youth can bring their original opinions as Internet users.

DIPLO IGCBP: Thanks for this clarification. Can you illustrate more this point?

Rafik Dammak: For example: How can we discuss about social networks and privacy without young people who adopted them since the beginning and such networks become a part of their life. Many among the loud voices don't use so much social networks.. but they talk about a lot.

Youth adopted Internet and aren't afraid about it. That is important because there are many participants from Internet Governance community who see sometimes Internet as threat and a field to be heavily regulated and controlled and they argue with examples like child safety etc.

Young people don't see Internet in terms of threat but in terms of opportunities. It dramatically changes the perspective for discussion.

DIPLO IGCBP: Now, the opposite question: how does Internet governance bring something for the youth?

Rafik Dammak: Internet Governance offers them the opportunity to be effective actor and key players of Internet and not only being users and consumers. IG provides tools for participation and civic involvement. With all those broad issues debated on IG, it is the best place for young citizens to participate and to act. At least in my case IG brought a lot to me and changed my life :)

DIPLO IGCBP: For the youth who are interested to join the Dynamic Coalition and also get more informed about Internet governance, what advice can you give?

Rafik Dammak: The coalition includes organizations and active individuals aware about IG issues and not only limited to youth related ones. We still need more people to join us, and they are welcome. We have many people with different background who brings new things to debate. I should confess that I am learning about issues that I wasn't aware before.

My advice is join us and be a member of our coalition, don't be afraid, we all are learning everyday. We are in the beginning of nice experience and that is the best time to join!

DIPLO IGCBP: Many thanks, Rafik! For those of you interested to join, you can contact Rafik HERE.

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