CD2I and UNU-CRIS host workshops on Furthering Debates on Digital Sovereignty

Digital sovereignty was the theme of two workshops convened by members of CD2I and the Digital Governance Cluster at UNU-CRIS in May 2021. Two 60-minute workshops were organized for academics with the aim of unpacking the meaning of digital sovereignty from different perspectives. The objective is to develop a network of scholars that will contribute to furthering the debate by bringing together various research threads. The discussions covered the meaning, appropriateness, and use of the term digital sovereignty for EU policymaking, engaging with views outside of Europe as well.

Academic participants from various fields (e.g. political science, law, media studies, science and technology studies, sociology, international relations) were invited to attend the two events, which took place online. The experimental format of limiting the timeframe of the discussion to one hour proved to be highly productive. The 25 participants were divided into smaller discussion groups, mixing different disciplinary backgrounds in order to stimulate thinking together by drawing on various research perspectives. Rapporteurs from the CD2I team brought together the discussions at the end of the first event. During the week between the two workshops, participants had the chance to contribute to drafting a future research agenda on digital sovereignty, identifying common themes and possible research gaps. It was agreed that this document will form the basis for a manifesto on digital sovereignty.

The strong interest in the topic and the lively debate showed the need for more opportunities to come and think together about the future of global digital cooperation, with special regard to the more and more visible intertwining of technological, political, economic, and security considerations. In that spirit CD2I and UNU-CRIS are collaborating with the Global Internet Governance Academic Network (GigaNet) and Microsoft to plan further events throughout the year on the topic of digital sovereignty, engaging other stakeholder groups too, such as the technical community, civil society, and industry.

For more details, contact: Jamal Shahin (Jamal.Shahin@vub.be) and Charlotte van Wieren (cvanwieren@cris.unu.edu)