Global Partners and Associates works with governments, agencies and other organisations to improve the use of human rights frameworks in shaping public policy.
Over the past 15 years the internet and mobile phones have been spreading and evolving rapidly in all parts of the world. These forms of communication are fundamentally different from previous models â€“ power is dispersed to the users of the networks, in what is known as a â€śpeer-to peerâ€ť model. More and more citizens are creating, producing, sharing, editing and moderating content directly with each other providing the world with an unprecedented potential: to democratise freedom of expression.
Governing the new environment is extremely challenging: it is global, dispersed and fast-changing. Governments are increasingly reacting by finding new ways to control and monitor the online space, and calling for the entire environment to be brought under governmental control. At the same time, the power of new communication companies is growing at an alarming rate. We must act now to preserve and build a global digital communications environment that is open, empowering and that supports human rights. GPA provides expertise in the following:
Strategic advice, policy and scoping: Global Partners offer solid expertise in the intersection between human rights and internet governance. We carry out strategic policy research at international and national levels for governments, international organisations and donors. Examples of our work in this area:
- ICTs and Human Rights (for the European Parliament)
- A New Frontier, an Old Landscape (for the Ford Foundation)
Facilitating networks and multi-stakeholder working: Multi-stakeholder working is a new challenge in the internet environment. Global Partners has rich experience of working with international organisations, governments, businesses, civil society and academia, together with a robust internalised multi-stakeholder approach. Global Partners offers and has offered facilitation to a number of networks, including: the Internet Rights and Principles Dynamic Coalition and the Aspen Institute International Digital Economy Accords.
Implementing projects: Global Partners offers expertise in managing international projects. We work with a global network of associates to deliver high quality projects, cost-effectively and on time. Examples of our work in this area include a project working with local activists in India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal to protect online freedom of expression for the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right. Communication is essential to the development of our identities and relationships, and so to human integrity. It is also the foundation of other rights and freedoms, and social and economic development. Without the ability to communicate it is impossible to realise or defend human rights, to have genuine democracy of to organise politically in any meaningful way.
GPA works to promote and support media and communication environments which are citizen-centred and enabling of healthy democracies, using a human rights approach. Our work spans media regulation, ethics in journalism and media development. GPA provides expertise in the following:
Media assessment tools: We developed the Media Development Indicators for UNESCO. These were adopted by governments in 2008 as the definitive assessment tool for measuring the impact of media on society. We have subsequently advised on use of the MDIs in Ecuador, Croatia, Bhutan, the Maldives, Mozambique and Brazil.
Strategic advice and evaluations: We have conducted evaluations for a range of media organisations including Press Now in the Netherlands, Freemuse in Denmark, and the International Safety Institute in Brussels. We have provided specialist advice and training on the laws and practices affecting free expression in Azerbaijan, Turkey and Romania.Â We have also conducted a strategic review of the work of International Media Support, a Danish-based international NGO which supports media organisations and journalists in conflict situations.
Global Partners and Associates believes in the paramount importance of open government, becauseÂ transparent institutions function more efficiently, are trusted more by the public and are less corrupt than those which operate in secret. We also believe that transparency is greater in countries where citizens are the recognised owners of information and are free to access information that is relevant to them. The right to information, therefore, fundamentally underpins the notions of open government and transparency.
GPA works with national public bodies and key sections of civil society to foster systems of open government in a number of countries. Together, we work towards establishing progressive right to information laws; creating systems and policies for proactive disclosure; and establishing open data systems. GPA offers the following expertise in open government and transparency:
Strategic advice, policy and scoping: Using our knowledge of right to information and international best practice we advise governments and donors. We have advised the UNDP on how to apply the right to information in developing countries. In Brazil we have been helping the government implement a new right to information law, focusing on current international best practice and the administrative challenges involved in establishing an information request system.
Connecting actors:Â The process of open government should be driven at all levels: the civil society level; the middle, public official level and the top, political leadership level. Part of Global Partnersâ€™ approach is to bring these constituencies together to push the process. In Egypt, for example, we are working to create a coalition made up constituents from all of these levels. We are using the opportunity to also bring together various elements of civil society â€“ the media, academics, activists and professionals. The project also seeks to foster international ties with actors from countries in the Global South Â who have transitioned to systems of more open government, such as the Open Democracy Advice Centre (ODAC) in South Africa.
Implementing projects: We believe in an integrated approach to open government based on three elements of openness: right to information law, proactive publication and open data systems that focus on users.Â Global Partners has been implementing a project in Egypt based on this approach and working with a local partner, the Arab Forum for Alternatives to create an information coalition.
Evaluations and assessment tools: Mechanisms to assess the implementation of right to information laws are vital in ensuring these laws do not become meaningless. Global Partners is currently working with UNESCO and the Brazilian Government to create indicators to assess the progress of the implementation of their recent right to information law.