As part of our introductory guide to internet governance, Andreas Karsten introduces key organisations and bodies working on the internet, communications and governance, including their overarching aims and where you can find more information. Organisations covered include the United Nations, Council of Europe, UNESCO, and civil society. In this article, Andreas introduces the work of UNESCO on internet governance.

UNESCO runs two programmes related to internet governance, namely the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) and the Information for All Programme (IFAP). The main areas of relevance to UNESCO are the concern for ethical dimensions, the promotion and use of multilingualism and universal access to cyberspace and capacity-building.

The UNESCO and Internet Governance
UNESCO and Internet Governance

The work of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization on internet governance is based on UNESCO’s basic approach of creating the conditions for dialogue among civilizations, cultures and peoples, a dialogue that aims to achieve sustainable development encompassing human rights, mutual respect and the alleviation of poverty.

UNESCO’s work on communication and information centres on five thematic areas:

Access to knowledge | Media development | Freedom of expression | Capacity building tools | Crosscutting priorities

UNESCO has a strong focus on information and communication technology in education, starting from the belief that technology can contribute to universal access to and equity in education as well as efficient education management, governance and administration. The organisation maintains a Portal on Open Educational Resources and an OER-Wiki.

UNESCO’s work on internet governance is coordinated by the organisation’s Communication and Information Sector, headed by Assistant Director General Jānis Kārkliņš.


Publications of UNESCO on digital governance include:

▪   Freedom of expression toolkit: a guide for students (2013, pdf

▪   Global survey on Internet privacy and freedom of expression (2012, pdf)

▪   Freedom of Connection – Freedom of Expression: The Changing Legal and Regulatory Ecology Shaping the Internet (2011, pdf)

▪   Professional journalism and self-regulation: new media, old dilemmas (2011, pdf)

▪   The Importance of Self Regulation of the Media in Upholding Freedom of Expression (2011, pdf)

▪   World Report “Towards Knowledge Societies” (2010, pdf)


Featured image credit: N3rdabl3

Written by Andreas Karsten

Andreas works as a researcher and journalist in and beyond the youth sector on rights-based public policies, youth-sensitive budgeting, human rights, equality, empowerment, participation, citizenship, sustainability, learning, change and common sense.