H.E. Ms. Anna Karin Eneström, Permanent Representative of Sweden, H.E., Mr. Chola Milambo, Permanent Representative of Zambia

Excellencies and colleagues,

I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of the G77 and China.

At the outset, I would like to thank the co-facilitators for sharing the proposed roadmap for the intergovernmental process on the Global Digital Compact and for convening these consultations. I now would like to tackle some procedural matters concerning the proposed roadmap and process, including seeking further clarifications on some of its aspects, and I will briefly convey the key priorities of the Group pertaining to global digital cooperation.

First of all, we appreciate the inclusivity which has characterized this process since last year by engaging all stakeholders. While we acknowledge the relevance of stakeholder inputs in this process, the Group strongly emphasize that this should remain a Member State driven process throughout and should respect States' ownership over their own development pathways as was highlighted in your last letter.

Regarding the roadmap, the Group would like to seek further clarity on how the facilitators intend to proceed after the third reading. Small delegations and groups as ours need to have a clear idea of the whole intergovernmental negotiation process as it will require to draw on the expertise and technical knowledge of a multitude of national institutions and entities.

The Group would like, at this point, to emphasize the importance of providing adequate time between readings to enable states to effectively coordinate positions, particularly the time between the release of the zero draft and the first reading.

The Group looks forward to further clarifications on scope, timeline and modalities of the meetings and consultations in this process, particularly the roadmap for negotiations. We appreciate your efforts to provide us with an issues paper that intends to summarize the discussions held last year. However, we would like to stress that some ideas vital for the Group were not taken into consideration in the issues paper.

The issues paper did not include any references to the importance of technology and knowledge transfer from developed to developing countries, although the Group repeatedly emphacized the importance of considering this as a crosscutting issue in the Compact. Also, although we appreciate that the paper pointed out the important role of the UN and its entities in digital cooperation and that the Compact should not duplicate their work, it still indicated that there is a need for new regular review and follow-up mechanisms. That said, we acknowledge that it might be useful to establish a process to review and follow up on the implementation of the Compact, if intergovernmantally agreed and after its adoption.

The Group submitted written inputs last year and looks forward to having them taken into account in the preparation of the zero draft as they contain specific proposals and actions to streghten digital cooperation and bridge the digital divides. Those inputs also contain the responses of our Group to your questions, so we intend to highlight just a few elements due to the time constrains. The Group acknowledges that there is a massive number of issues pertaining to global digital cooperation. However, the Group underscores that the Compact should address development aspects effectively and expand the role of digital technologies as enablers of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs.

The Group also considers that important issues related to global digital cooperation include: closing the digital divide, avoiding internet fragmentation, increasing investment in digital infrastructures, expanding the role of digital technologies in poverty and hunger eradication particularly extreme poverty, countering disinformation and misinformation, data protection, data governance, advancing technology and education transfer to developing countries, ending technological monopoly, refraining from promulgating and applying any unilateral economic, financial or trade measures, advancing capacity building and global connectivity, promoting access to and use of digitial public goods, expanding digital entrepreneurship and strengthening relevant regulatory frameworks.

The Group emphasizes the importance of the full and equal participation of all countries in any decisions and processes regarding recommendations for the international governance of artificial intelligence.Any global governance frameworks to be developed for artificial intelligence or any other new and emerging technologies must take into account the particular needs of developing countries as well as the leading role of the UN in this regards. In order to achieve this goal, transfer of technology on favorable terms for developing countries, as well as associated capacity-building are of vital importance.

Likewise, we stress that internet governance should be addressed in a global set up backed by the United Nations system, through their extensive participation of all states with a multistake holder approach, each within their respective roles and responsibilities as set out in the WSIS outcomes, particularly the Geneva and Tunis ones. In this connection, the GDC should promote technical assistance and cooperation to enable all States to acquire the necessary capabilities and tools for equal and effective participation in Internet governance. The GDC should also emphasize the importance of preserving and promoting the unity and interoperability of the Internet. Finally, the GDC should reaffirm the sovereign right of States to determine their national rules for Internet usage and their prerogative to govern the digital sphere within their jurisdiction, in conformity with international law. The United Nations needs also to play a key role in advancing a balanced global data governance.

In short, the Global Digital Compact must close the divides between developed and developing countries while addressing the major structural impediments that developing countries face in engaging with, accessing and developing new and emerging technologies including unilateral coercive measures. In this regard, the Global Digital Compact should outline concrete actions and specific initiatives, in order to secure meaningful results. This is the pathway to achieve the SDGs. One such concrete measure is the consideration of an international technology framework, aligned with the SDGs, which should offer preferential access to developing countries to relevant advanced technologies, help them develop their productive capacities, and focus on global research and development on scientific breakthroughs relevant to the Sustainable Development Goals.

Finally, the G77 and China reiterates its commitment to actively engaging in this very important intergovernmental process and looks forward to reaching a concise, action-oriented outcome agreed by consensus through intergovernmental negotiations.

I thank you.