Digital Divide

Research Paper 187, 4 December 2023

The Global Digital Compact: opportunities and challenges for developing countries in a fragmented digital space

By Carlos Correa, Danish, Vitor Ido, Jacquelene Mwangi and Daniel Uribe

The adoption of a Global Digital Compact (GDC) as one of the outcomes of the Summit of the Future opens up the opportunity to address in a systematic manner issues that are of critical importance for the digital global governance. It also poses a challenge to developing countries, as most of them lack the infrastructure and capabilities to fully participate in the digital transformation. Many inequalities, including a deep digital divide, do exist and would need to be addressed by the GDC for it to become a real instrument of change and improvement in the living conditions and the prospects of a better future for most of the world population. This paper examines the current fragmentation in the digital governance and some of the issues raised by the proposals made by the UN Secretary-General for adoption of the GDC.

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SouthViews No. 253, 27 October 2023

Harnessing Digital Technologies for Education in Developing Countries: Need for a Judicious Approach

By Kishore Singh

Digital technologies are transforming the landscape of education. New models and ways of learning, digitally supported and virtual, are emerging with rapid pace, multiplying learning pathways and diversifying learning approaches. Digital technologies are impacting education at all levels and in all its forms, and renewal of education by dint of what is termed ‘edu-tech’ has become a buzz word. Harnessing digital technologies for education is enticing for developing countries.

However, the gaze on the dazzles of digitalization must not lose sight of their down side. Considering what has been termed as ‘platform imperialism’, a cautious and critical approach is needed. “Digital divide’ is a crushing blow to the fundamental principle of equality of opportunity in education. Safeguarding education from forces of privatization and ‘edu-business’, fortified by digitalization in education, is also a daunting challenge. We must ward off against deleterious, even dehumanizing effect of digital technologies, as they can be pernicious if they are not properly controlled and regulated.

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SC Contribution – Call for Inputs by UN SR on RtD, June 2023

Inputs – Special Rapporteur on the Right to Development

“Role of businesses in realising the right to development”

South Centre

June 2023

The Human Rights Council, in its resolution 33/14 of 29 September 2016, established the mandate of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to development. In 2023, the Special Rapporteur will present a report on “the role of business in realising the right to development in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and other relevant international human rights instruments” to the United Nations General Assembly in October 2023.

With the objective of collecting information regarding the role of businesses in realising the right to development, Prof Surya Deva, Special Rapporteur on the Right to Development, made an open call for inputs from various stakeholders such as States, international organisations, national human rights institutions, civil society organisations, and others.

In line with its programme of work, the South Centre is keen to submit the following information to the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Development considering the need to achieve progress on the fulfilment of social rights, in particular the Right to Development (RtD) and its interface with issues such as climate change, corporate responsibility, food security and small farmers’ livelihood.

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SC Submission to the Global Digital Compact, April 2023

Submission to the Global Digital Compact

Apply Human Rights Online

 South Centre

 Geneva, April 2023

The South Centre’s Board approved in September 2022 its Programme of Work 2023-2025 where the policy dimensions of digital transformation are highlighted as one of the priority areas for developing countries, including the need to harness digital technologies in education, health and the production of goods and services, support the development of a domestic digital industry, improve their digital infrastructure, advance digital equity and inclusion, effectively tax the digital companies and contribute to shaping the digital governance architecture to advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Following the call made in the Declaration on the Commemoration of the Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the United Nations (A/RES/75/1) for improved digital cooperation, the United Nations (UN) Secretary General’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation and his report ‘Our Common Future’, the South Centre submits the following written contribution to the UN Secretary General ahead to the Summit of the Future with the objective of providing support to developing countries in the intergovernmental process concerning the digital transformation.

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South Centre Contribution – UNCTAD eCommerce Week 2022

DATA FOR DEVELOPMENT: HOW TO LEGALLY CHARACTERIZE DATA?

SOUTH CENTRE’S CONTRIBUTION TO THE eTRADE FOR ALL LEADERSHIP DIALOGUE OF THE UNCTAD eCOMMERCE WEEK 2022

Radical technological changes have always challenged pre-existing legal frameworks as demonstrated, for instance, by the commercialization of computer software independently from hardware and the use of genetic information to develop biotechnological innovations in various areas such as health and agriculture. The emergence of big data is a new and outstanding example of such situations. With the growing digitalization of multiple activities, ranging from education and health to ‘smart farming’ and the supply of the most diverse goods, the production and storage of data have exploded. Individuals, businesses and governments are generating an immense amount of data and this will only continue to grow in the future. Yet, the legal characterization of data is still a matter of considerable divergencies and debate. Policy makers and scholars are still searching for legal approaches suitable to address the complex relationships among producers, processors, controllers and users of data…

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SouthViews No. 215, 6 April 2021

Technology and inequality: can we decolonise the digital world?

By Padmashree Gehl Sampath

In this article, the author argues that techno-centric explanations of progress and industrialisation are deeply entrenched in a wider social context that encourages us to ignore the historical roots of current inequalities – which, in fact, are not amenable to a technological solution alone. Making the data economy work for all will require a serious reflection on how we want to frame this debate, and how to align ourselves to a common vision of social progress that technology could help to accomplish.

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SouthViews No. 213, 23 February 2021

Access to Medical Equipment in a Pandemic Situation: Importance of Localized Supply Chains and 3D Printing

By Muhammad Zaheer Abbas, PhD

The response to the COVID-19 crisis highlighted the weaknesses of the free trade system and failures of the traditional supply chains. Public health preparedness for future pandemics demands nation-states to increase their local production of medical supplies in order to reduce their dependence on third countries. Globally connected local production, enabled by digital fabrication tools, is arguably the best policy response to collaboratively address supply-chain vulnerabilities. 3D printing technology, which is the most prominent manifestation of digital fabrication ecosystems, can play a key role in enhancing the local production capacity in a time- and cost-efficient manner. This paper calls for an increased focus on local production and proposes a more systematic use of 3D printing capabilities to address shortages of critical medical equipment in a health emergency.

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