International Engagement Strategy

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Canadian Heritage's International engagement strategy on diversity of content is implemented through a series of meetings as well as open and transparent discussions, based on the following key principles:

  • Civil society, digital platforms and governments share responsibilities for encouraging a diversity of content online; and
  • Civil society, digital platforms and government can each adopt practices beneficial to diversity of content in the digital age.

To achieve meaningful results and changes in behaviors and business practices, the international conversation on diversity of content must:

  • be inclusive and collaborative by nature, working with a wide network of interested stakeholders;
  • build on evidence provided by independent international experts, including academics; and
  • support other Internet governance-related discussions in terms of scope and terms of engagement.

These principles reflect existing international norms on cultural diversity, in particular:

However, these principles go beyond the UNESCO norms as they draw the link between diversity of content and democratic resilience.

International meeting at Stanford University, California

A first concrete step occurred in March 2018 when an international meeting of experts was held at Stanford University, California, USA. The meeting, titled Governance Innovation for a Connected World: Protecting Free Expression, Diversity and Civic Engagement in the Global Digital Ecosystem, was co-organized by Canadian Heritage, the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) and Stanford University.

Held under the Chatham House Rule, the meeting encouraged open exchanges between representatives from governments, digital platforms and civil society on a range of topics, including disinformation and diversity of content. Participants also discussed the strengths and weaknesses of different models of governance.

The Stanford Meeting Conference Report (PDF format) summarizes the different participants' interventions. It concludes that a multi-stakeholder approach is necessary to deal with the complex and interrelated challenges around Internet governance in order to protect values of free speech, diversity and civic engagement.

Canada-France joint declaration

In April 2018, the Joint Declaration on Cultural Diversity and the Digital Space, signed by Canada and France, publicly signaled Canada's intention to launch an open and multilateral dialogue on diversity of content in the digital world.

The Declaration represents a good starting point to reach a global agreement. It states that governments, platforms and civil society must:

  • support the creation, discoverability and accessibility of diverse local, regional and national content;
  • contribute to making sure content creators are payed and benefit from financial viability;
  • promote the quality and transparency of news and information; and
  • ensure that creators and consumers have access to information relative to the impact of algorithms on the availability and discoverability of digital content.

International meeting in Ottawa

Another important step took place with the International Meeting on Diversity of Content in the Digital Age. Canadian Heritage co-organized this meeting with the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, in Ottawa, on February 7 and 8, 2019.

The meeting's objectives were to:

  • deepen the common understanding of issues;
  • identify lessons learned and best practices; and
  • identify measures that could be implemented by governments, digital platforms and civil society organizations.

The meeting was held under the Chatham House Rule. To support discussions, academic experts also prepared five discussion papers on issues related to diversity of content. You can also consult the meeting's program.

You can consult the list of participants and the report of the meeting.

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