Speech of Christophe Deloire on the International Partnership for Information and Democracy at the Paris Peace Forum
Speech delivered by Christophe Deloire, Secretary general of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), on 11 November 2021, in the presence of President Emmanuel Macron, Vice-President Kamala Harris and over thirty heads of State or Government during the Paris Peace Forum.
"Mister President, Ladies and Gentlemen, Heads of State and Government, Madam Vice-President,
Future generations will, perhaps, derive wonderful benefits from technological evolution.
But right now, the way digital platforms and social media function is having a destructive effect on democracies.
It is no longer democratic principles that prevail in the organization of the public space, but a commercial and predatory logic.
At the same time, dictatorial and authoritarian regimes enjoy a competitive advantage over open societies.
Do we want to live in countries where debates are centered on invective, with insults, under the influence of unilateral subjectivities, without consideration for the truths of facts and the legitimate diversity of conceptions?
Do we want to live in a system where content corruption is allowed if not encouraged?
We launched a counter-offensive three years ago, as you will remember, Mr. President.
We cannot wait for the democratic terrain to burn.
We must put out the fire before it spreads.
And a framework now exists to reconcile technological evolution with democracy.
The Partnership for Information and Democracy, adopted in 2019 on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.
Forty-three countries committed to this international process for establishing democratic safeguards in the information and communication space.
An innovative experience in a “multilateralism of democracies” in coordination with civil society.
This partnership is supported by the Alliance for Multilateralism and is now a reference for the G7.
We hail the leadership of France and the 11 other pioneer countries whose heads of state or government launched this process right here, three years ago to the day.
In the past three years, we have also created the Forum on Information and Democracy, a mechanism for implementing the Partnership.
A 21st century organisation that brings together civil society, NGOs, academics, lawyers and democratic governments in a joint endeavour.
It has proposed a regulatory framework with 250 specific recommendations on platform transparency, platform moderation, messaging services and the promotion of the reliability of information.
They go further than what is being undertaken today at the European level with the Digital Services Act.
This work was co-chaired by Maria Ressa, to whom the Nobel Peace Committee has just awarded its prize.
The Forum has also proposed a New Deal for Journalism, an investment by all stakeholders in favor of quality independent journalism.
At the heart of the New Deal, we have created an international referencial jointly with major actors from all over the world.
It’s a market solution that will encourage the visibility and viability of media outlets that respect professional journalistic methods and ethics.
It’s called the Journalism Trust Initiative (JTI), and it’s a self-regulatory mechanism.
It can be a game changer.
All interested parties, digital platforms, advertisers, public and private funders and regulatory bodies, can adopt this systematic solution, now operational and available.
In order to get out of the informational chaos from the top.
And of course the Governments can, and even must, support it.
The first Ministerial Summit for Information and Democracy was held in New York on 24 September.
A meeting that will now be held annually.
We announced the creation of the International Observatory for Information and Democracy, co-chaired by Angel Gurria and Shoshana Zuboff.
An evaluation and analysis entity comparable to what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is for global warming.
In short, in the Partnership for Information and Democracy, the Forum of the same name, the Observatory, the Summits, the coalition of governments and the civil society coalition, we have all the elements to create a democratic digital space.
A space in which democratic institutions guarantee respect for basic principles, founded on the accountability of the platforms that shape and structure it, and endowed with mechanisms that protect against destabilising offensives.
Investing in this Partnership means protecting a common good, the information space; it means guaranteeing the democratic conditions of public debate in the 21st century; it means defending human rights.
It means to ward off the loss of technological control.
It simply means to put technologies at the service of Humanity and democratic Nations.
One last word: we expect that in all future international events on democracy, starting with the Summit for Democracy announced by President Biden, states will continue to build on the foundations, the bricks and the framework that we have laid. It's a major endeavour, but the rebuilding is underway, it's already advanced."