Maria Ressa Chosen as an Inaugural Member for UN's Internet Policy Panel


The United Nations announced on Tuesday, August 16, that it had appointed 10 distinguished individuals across regions worldwide for the inaugural Internet Governance Forum (IGF). One of them happens to be the Philippines' own Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa.

As part of the leadership panel, Ressa will be leading strategic conversations between stakeholders on public policy issues related to the internet. They also hope to "promote greater impact and dissemination of IGF discussions, according to its Terms of Reference."

The IGF is a realization of the World Summit on the Information Society's Tunis phase, which took place in 2005. For the Tunis Agenda, governments around the world had requested a “new forum for policy dialogue” for addressing issues related to internet governance. It also serves as a platform where members can exchange, safeguard, and share good internet policy practices.


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Members were chosen after an open call for nominations to ensure equal representation from government, civil society, the private sector, digital policy, and the tech community.

Rounding out the leadership panel are Vint Cerf from the U.S., Hatem Dowidar from Egypt, Lise Fuhr from Denmark, Maria Fernanda Garza from Mexico, Toomas Hendrik Ilves from Estonia, Alkesh Kumar Sharma from India, Karoline Edtstadler from Austria, ‘Gbenga Sesan from Nigeria, and Lan Xue from China. Panelists will be serving a two-year term cycle.

Apart from the UN Envoy, attached to the panel are five ex-officio members. These include senior representatives of the current, immediately previous, and upcoming IGF host countries, which are Krzysztof Szubert of Poland (2021 Host), Huria Ali Mahdi from Ethiopia (2022 Host), and Yuji Sasaki from Japan (2023 Host).

The forum's Multistakeholder Advisory Group Chair Paul Mitchell and the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Technology Amandeep Singh Gill join the panel, as well.

In the past, Ressa has been a victim of online violence, particularly on Facebook. She has spoken out against the dangers of tech platforms and their "attack on the truth" on various occasions.

The Rappler CEO, along with various women journalists like Carole Cadwalladr, who broke the Cambridge Analytica story, have been on the receiving end of threats in an increasingly polarizing social media landscape.

According to the International Center for Journalists, 73 percent of women journalists experience online abuse while 25 persent have been threated with physical violence. What's troubling is that 20 percent claim that they had been attacked or abused offline in relation to their work.

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The 17th edition of the IGF will be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia later this year, from 28 November to 2 December.

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