The remote meeting of the Alliance, chaired by French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and German foreign minister Heiko Maas was held on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the signing of the UN Charter. World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and UNESCO director-general Audrey Azoulay also took part in the meeting, which was to discuss reinforcing multilateral public health architecture and combating infodemics.
Christophe Deloire, also the secretary-general of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), told the meeting: “Our goal is to provide you with recommendations for a policy framework by the end of the year. In the coming months, we are going to be working with technology specialists, researchers and jurists in all continents of the world. This Forum is the equivalent for the democratic emergency of what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC, is for the climate emergency.”
Many of the foreign ministers expressed a positive view on what the French foreign minister Le Drian referred as the “working group on infodemics” that “the Forum on Information and Democracy has just launched as part of the initiatives supported by the Alliance.” Fifteen of them, including those of Côte d’Ivoire, Costa Rica, Greece, Luxembourg, India and Italy, said they were looking forward to the Forum’s recommendations.
“Ghana commends the Alliance for Multilateralism for encouraging the Forum on Information and Democracy to include the Covid-19 crisis and related infodemics in its stream of work,” foreign minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchway said. “Ghana is pleased to support the working group of independent experts being created by the Forum on Information and Democracy, and looks forward to their report during the third edition of the Paris Peace Forum in November 2020,” she added.
South Korea’s foreign minister, Kang Kyung-wha, said she welcomed the fact that the working group would “guide the members of the Alliance through this new realm of unforeseen challenges” and urged the Forum to be “ambitious in this endeavour” in order to “come to grips with all the ills of the so-called post-truth era that have sinked into our societies for too long.”
After stressing the importance of “promoting measures to guarantee pluralist democracy and the integrity of news and information,” Belgian foreign minister Philippe Coffin pledged to support the working group and to “encourage the digital platforms to contribute.”
UNESCO’s Azoulay said: “I hail the creation of a working group on infodemics, whose conclusions we await with great interest. By paying special attention to the responsibility of the leading digital actors, this working group is addressing a key issue – the transparency of algorithms and their ability to respond quickly in the moderation of content.”