Thursday, November 8

Internet Governance Forum without Internet

Yes, perhaps this is the first thing that comes to mind when I look back at the last few days of IGF2012 held in Baku, Azerbaijan. You would think this of all things would be organized and provided but no. Frankly, not surprised, after hearing from local staff that "we didn't consider Azerbaijani translation for the opening session" (yes, the OPENING session of the conference) or "there wont be any internet today" when I inquired about not working WiFi. 

But thats just logistical impressions. Putting aside all the incredible people I have met not to mention old faces that I have missed while being away, there has been some other highlights that I would love to share here. Like what was said by a representative from the GONGO Azer Hesret "not everything is bad in Azerbaijan, not everything is black in Azerbaijan" during a Joint Open Forum: EBU, CoE, UNESCO, OSCE: Safety of online media actors after Eynulla Fatullayev made a short speech listing many issues in Azerbaijan that do not necessarily make it look good. The strange thing is, pretty much all statements made during the forum by someone from the government or pro- government institution all focused on making counter statements rather than ask questions and address issues with all the representatives. I guess, no one (from the government, pro- government) really understood the point of this forum apart from proving something to the international audience who is already well aware of the reality on the ground.

And then there were some great quotes from work sessions I attended:
Freedom first before we start talking about regulation, Lee Hebberd 
We recognize the power of the Internet, its the oxygen for many people, Lee Hebberd
There is Democracy 2.0 but there is also Autocracy 2.0, Emin Milli
Governments have to make changes themselves, they know the rules, but often they don't respect them
Freedom of speech should be as normal as eating and drinking, EU Parliament representative
Whatever rights exist and guaranteed offline, should be guaranteed online, Lionel Veer
So these are my impressions so far in brief. Will write more once I have more time to reflect. 

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