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09:30h, Opening ceremony at the Main Session room, crowded. A lot of media present. I was sitting at the 3th row, with other Diplo Foundation fellows, just behind the ambassadors. Finally, the 7th IGF was formally handed over to the host country, Azerbaijan.
In May this year there were demonstrations in Azerbaijan, where people demanded democracy, therefore the freedom of speech as one of the most important human rights. Having this in mind I wanted to extract some parts of speeches given by the relevant persons at the opening ceremony, that cought my attention.
Some of the opening addresses were by:
Mr. Wu Hongbo, the United Nations Under Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs. He emphasized that IGF is helping to bring up more open, inclusive and transparent dialogue between multi-stakeholders, who were brought all together as equal. (?!)
Mr. Ali Abbasov, Minister of Communications and Information Technologies delevered the welcoming message of the President of Azerbaijan, His Exellency Mr. Aliyev. The speach emphasized that the state of Azerbaijan has the role to protect civil liberties of its cizitenz on and off line. But also that the Internet is the space for the exchange of information where the opportunities seems to be much larger when it comes to education, health, business etc. It helps growth of human, social and economic aspect.
Dr. Humadoun Toure, Secretary General of the International Telecommunications Union, was concentrating at the balance that must be found in order to protect individuals, institutions and economies from all potential criminal activities that happen online.
Mr. Abid Sharifov, Deputy Prime Minister of Azerbaijan, according to him 65% of the country is already using the Internet and new technologies. The country is implementing a program which guarantees the people access and unregulated use of the Internet.
So, this is all very respectful towards the human rights - on paper! All these statements sound pretty promising, but what is the reality?
I know that there are a lot of challenges when it come to organising the event as big as IGF - such as budget. But, I don't think the budget was the problem this time.
So, why there was no Internet at INTERNET Governance Forum, whatsoever? Was it really by mistake that someone (let suppose the experts were working on that) enabled the internet for only 200 gadgets – knowing for months that there will be over 1500 persons with at least 1 (one) laptop?!?
We know that IGF is all about being online, expressing our opinions at the moment, writing posts 'LIVE', exchanging informations for those who wanna be informed. Isn't 'being connected' the way to show unquestionable support for at least one week and to show how would it be in that perfect rightful online world which we aspire?!
Today, Internet is our right. And, the idea of being protected and being able to express applies to the online space, not only while being offline.
You could feel no difference, advantages or disadvantages, between being online and offline on the first day of IGF. Oh wait – maybe it's because we were all restricted from the internet!
The first day was pretty successful when it comes to the organisation of space, volunteers, media (TV and print).
But, when it comes to the real reason all the stakeholders came to the IGF, the online world and online rights were ON only in well prepared speeches. Sorry!