The increasing importance of digital technologies and the emergence of new, global actors pose fresh challenges to international regulatory frameworks and multilateral diplomacy. For this reason, the process of establishing digital governance - i.e. defining the "rules of the game" for using and developing the internet and the digital world - is the subject of intensive debate.
Digital governance concerns nearly every aspect of our digital reality, from questions on internet infrastructure and data use to ethical issues related to new technologies such as artificial intelligence. In recent years there has been an increasing polarisation within the international community, with differences of opinion emerging between countries that favour a state-driven and centralised understanding of the digital world and those that advocate a decentralised model.
Importance for Switzerland
As an internationally highly interconnected country with limited power-political options, Switzerland depends on constructive cooperation in the field of digital governance. It also relies on legal certainty and fair competition in the digital world with respect to its foreign economic interests.
Through its participative and solution-oriented approach, Switzerland has succeeded over the last two decades in providing important impetus to developing new regulatory frameworks for the digital world of the twenty-first century. In doing so, it embraces the vision of a digital space that is as free, open and secure as possible, based on the fundamental values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Not only should social and economic innovation be promoted, the roles and responsibilities of private and state actors should also be clarified, so that as many people in the world as possible benefit from the opportunities offered by new technologies and are protected from discrimination and injustice.
It is important to Switzerland that processes and structures exist which enable as many countries and stakeholders as possible to participate in digital governance in a meaningful way. This is a basic prerequisite for reaching fair, legitimate and long-term solutions. These are also the goals of the Digital Switzerland strategy and Switzerland's digital foreign policy.
OFCOM, in close cooperation with the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), has for many years been committed to further developing internet and digital governance processes. As host of the 2003 World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Geneva and in the second phase in Tunis 2005, Switzerland made a significant contribution to defining a global vision for an inclusive, development-orientated and human-centric information society. Since then it has played a formative role in establishing and promoting open exchange forums such as the UN Internet Governance Forum (IGF) and the European Dialogue on Internet Governance (EuroDIG). In 2018, Switzerland prevailed upon the UN Secretary-General to set up the independent High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation (HLPDC), whose work it supports financially and with practical input. It also supports the UN Secretary-General in implementing its Roadmap on Digital Cooperation, which is based on the recommendations of the HLPDC.
In Geneva, Switzerland also has a global centre of digital governance, which can bring together all kinds of stakeholders and which the Confederation therefore wishes to strengthen further. The Geneva Internet Platform (GIP), launched by OFCOM and the FDFA in 2014, provides Geneva as a hub of international diplomacy with an instrument for increasing digital technology know-how and promoting digital governance.
OFCOM is actively involved in the following organisations to promote digital and internet governance at international level:
Last modification 14.04.2022