Home / News & Speeches / UNESCO ‘CONNECTing the Dots’ conference, 3-4 March 2015

Opening remarks by Dr Ilham Habibie, ICC BASIS Chair

Opening remarks by Dr Ilham Habibie, ICC BASIS Chair

Madame Director-General, fellow speakers and participants, good morning and thank you for this opportunity to speak on behalf of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and its BASIS (Business Action to Support the Information Society) initiative.

Let me explain who we are: The International Chamber of Commerce represents business from all sectors in every part of the world. Its global network comprises over 6.5 million companies, chambers of commerce and business associations in more than 130 countries. Around the world, these are the companies – mostly SMEs – that compete, invest and innovate to build the vast majority of the goods and services that fuel the information society.

Founded in 1919, ICC’s mission is based on the vision of a dozen founders who called themselves the merchants of peace. They believed that encouraging and facilitating crossborder trade and investment built ties among people, fostering development, job creation, and both economic and social benefit. Today that is still the heart of the organization and the advent of the Internet has only helped to pick up the pace and expand the reach of these benefits.

BASIS, the Business Action to Support the Information Society, was established in 2006 channel the voice and views of business and to help business play its part as an important stakeholder in the post-WSIS activities.

A central theme to the BASIS work is to highlight policies that promote private sector investment, competition, trade and innovation that will help what was called the information society flourish. Great ideas know no boundaries, unless restrictions are placed in their path.

At this important juncture – ten years on since WSIS – remarkable strides have been made where information and communication technologies have demonstrated they have great capacity to deliver. Remarkable opportunities for economic growth and societal benefit remain to be enjoyed by more of the world’s population and BASIS is committed to working with UNESCO and engaged stakeholders to identify and put forward the policy options needed to help the next billion participate.

Access to the Internet in developing countries is the crucial starting point for ICT innovations to enable UNESCO’s vision of Internet-enabled Knowledge Societies. Research indicates there is a strong link between increased telecommunication penetration (particularly mobile phones) and faster economic and social development to improve living conditions in developing countries in particular. While developed countries are already seizing these opportunities, greater attention needs to be paid to highlighting opportunities and facilitating participation and capacity building for developing countries.

I am from Indonesia, which is not only the 4th largest country in the world but also from an internet perspective a very big user. This need for ICT innovations is clearly visible there as well. Whereas my country is in the top 5 in the world e.g. for Facebook, Twitter etc. use, our economic growth and productivity has not been significantly being impacted by the advent of the internet. Our people need to be transformed from using the internet for mainly consumptive use, to also productive use. For that purpose, we are currently developing a concept called ‘meaningful broadband’, through which we want to support the usability, affordability and empowering effect of the internet for developing our country and people.

All stakeholders in the Internet ecosystem have an expectation of privacy of their communications and are engaged in dialogues aiming to ensure trust in evolving Internet technologies through technical measures, legal developments, and policy advocacy.

Cultural and regulatory diversity means that cooperation is required to ensure that international frameworks to protect privacy have a degree of flexibility.

While not mentioned in the keystones it must be noted in our current context that effective public-private cooperation is essential to strengthening Internet security and responding to the large and growing range of cybersecurity threats to the global Internet. The risks are shared by all of us and accordingly we each have a role to play in protecting against these threats.

Education and information exchange, the development and diffusion of technical tools are important means of protecting networks and users and combatting illegal activity. ICC is working to help members assess and secure their part in the chain.

Business strongly supports freedom of expression and the free flow of information in a manner that respects the rights of others and the rule of law. ICC strongly recommends that governments adopt the principle that the offline laws and rules apply equally – offline and on the Internet.

UNESCO could encourage governments to work together with business to develop policies and practices to maximize freedom of expression and the free flow of information over the Internet and to minimize trade and investment barriers so that all companies have the ability to engage in legitimate commercial activity.

Limitations to the right to free expression should only be for legitimate public policy objectives, such as protecting the rights of others, and the rule of law consistent with international treaties, and should be narrowly tailored to meet such objectives, and decisions on Internet governance and policy issues on all levels should be consistent with international human rights.

The UNESCO Connecting the dots study is a laudable contribution to the community discussion on these topics. We look forward to participating in a rich exchange of views today and tomorrow.

To highlight just a few of the many notable options proposed, ICC applauds UNESCO’s recognition that:

1. an inclusive multistakeholder approach will not just get the best results, it is necessary;

2. in the digital space more can be done to promote harmonization of relevant domestic law with international standards and encouraging resolution mechanism for crossborder jurisdictional issues;

3. there is an important role and value for education and capacity building in achieving all the stated keystone goals.

Finally let me close by saying Business congratulates UNESCO taking a cooperative and constructive role following up the WSIS process. We support UNESCO’s vision and goal of Internet-enabled Knowledge Societies. We are pleased to be here to share our views and encourage UNESCO in pursuing many of the proposed options and whole-heartedly support the need for a multistakeholder path to ensure a secure, stable, open and accessible Internet post-2015 and well beyond.