Posted on February 11, 2020

The National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) is set to host an international conference on ‘Social Media: Challenges and Ways to Promote Freedoms and Protect Activists’ on February 16 and 17. 

The conference will be attended by over 300 international organisations, universities, think-tanks, journalist and trade unions, major specialised companies and social networks. It will discuss 40 papers in five sessions and four parallel working groups over two days. The conference  is being organised by the National Human Rights Committee (QNHRC), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the European Parliament, and the International Federation of Journalists.

The conference is expected to witness qualitative participation of journalist unions around the world including journalist unions from France, Britain, Germany, Italy, Spain, and from other African and Asian countries. H E Dr. Ali bin Smaikh Al Marri, Chairman of National Human Rights Committee (NHRC), said the conference will bring together more than 300 international organisations, universities among other unions and networks. He added that the international conference on “Social Media: Challenges and Ways to Promote Freedoms and Protect Activists” which will be held at the Ritz-Carlton, Doha will  discuss over 40 working papers in five interactive sessions along four working groups.

Al Marri pointed out that preparations for the conference are at the final stage, praising cooperation and coordination between the organisers including NHRC, OHCHR, European Parliament, and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). “We have witnessed great international interests, from international human rights organisations, networks and specialised international agencies as more than 300 international organisations, universities, and think-tanks have confirmed their participation in the conference, along with major specialised companies, social networks and journalist federations across the world.

He added: “The conference will witness wide participation of prominent personalities from the European Union countries, some of whom will present working papers, such as the representative of the EU Counter-Terrorism Center, representative of the European Union for Human Rights, as well as the participation of deputies and committees from the European Parliament, and a number of special rapporteurs of the United Nations,” Al Marri said. He said that the UN Special Rapporteur on Privacy, the UN Special Rapporteur on Minorities and the UN Special Rapporteur on Democracy will deliver working papers during the conference, in presence of personalities and representatives of the European Security and Cooperation Organization, and UN agencies, international organizations, social media organizations and networks.

Dr. Al-Marri further said, “The international conference on “Social Media: Challenges and Ways to Promote Freedoms and Protect Activists” is expected to come out with a number of recommendations and proposals that will be presented by the participants during the closing session.” The Chairman of NHRC said: “We have given great attention to the Gulf, Arab and African participation, and there will be organisations from the Gulf States; including Kuwait and the Sultanate of Oman, alongside Arab and African countries, Eastern Europe and Russia.”

“We also witnessed a remarkable turnout by journalists and the international media to attend the conference and cover its activities, as well as a number of think-tanks,” Al Marri noted. “So far, about 100 media outlets from inside and outside Qatar have confirmed to cover the activities of the international conference, including about 30 media outlets, along with 25 journalists and media outlets from the local media, and 50 social media activists.”

The conference will witness an opening session entitled “Social Media: Challenges and Ways to Support Freedoms and Protection of Human Rights Defenders and the Creator of Professional Content” where Dr. Ali bin Samikh Al-Marri, Chairman of NHCR and Vice-President and Secretary General of the GANHRI; Michelle Bachelet from OHCHR; Georgette Gagnon, Director of the Field Operations and Technical Cooperation Division, OHCHR; and Eimon Gilmore, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights; Yunus Mjahed, President of the IFJ; and Carlos Negret Mosquera, President of the GANHRI.

The conference will also witness six  interactive discussion sessions over two days, the first entitled “Creating an enabling environment for online civic space: Legal and institutional perspective”, in which international experts from the UN, the EU and representatives of media federations will speak.

The second interactive session, which will be chaired by Eva Kaili, Chair of the Science and Technology Options Assessment Panel, from the European Parliament in Brussels, will be entitled “Responses by social media companies to protect civil space”. The conference will also witness holding of parallel working groups. On the first day, a working group meeting will be organized on “legislative frameworks regulating freedom of expression and social media”, while the second group will discuss the “human rights implications of blocking access to communications social media”.

On the second day of the conference, two working groups will be held; first working group on “Transparency and accountability in oversight of content in major technology companies”, while the second working session will be held to discuss “Can media platforms continue in the presence of social media? Interactive discussion sessions will continue to be held on the second day, with the fifth session on “Defining future activities to expand the scope of civil space in social media”, followed by the closing session that will be chaired by His Excellency Dr. Ali bin Samikh Al-Marri, Chairman of the National Human Rights Committee.

source: The Peninsula