The UNCTAD eWeek, an initiative of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in partnership with eTrade for all, will occur from the 4th until the 8th of December. The event will have a hybrid and open format, with over 150 sessions that will take place in-person (in Geneva) and virtually. On the 6th of December, 5PM (GMT), Data Privacy Brasil will coordinate an online session titled “Projecting Digital Economy Rules on Global South’s AI Regulations: What is Needed to Safeguard Human Rights?”.

UNCTAD is a political body affiliated with the United Nations (UN), currently consisting of 195 member states. Established in the 1960s, it is a permanent international forum focused on the integration between trade and development. UNCTAD engages in research, technical facilitation, promotion of debates, and consensus-building on national, regional and global trade and development policies.

The organization has shown particular interest in the intersection between trade and digital technologies in recent years, creating opportunities for civil society engagement through events like the one in question. Between 2015 and 2022, the UNCTAD eCommerce Week occurred annually, discussing key topics related to the digital economy (Data Privacy Brasil closely followed the last edition of the event). The beginning of the UNCTAD eWeek in 2023 was conceived as a reshape of that event, a strategic move by the organization to incorporate discussions on digital trade into broader digital agendas, in recognition of the transformations in this landscape.

Under the theme “Shaping the Future of the Digital Economy”, UNCTAD eWeek aims to bring together key representatives in multistakeholder debates on emerging issues related to digitalization. Key discussion topics include Artificial Intelligence, technology regulation, and other cross-cutting issues in digital economies. Within these themes, the programme combines thematic sessions with high-level sessions, featuring representatives from the UNCTAD and the UN, and also ministers, CEOs and civil society representatives from several countries.

The event provides an opportunity to foster integration between discussions on trade agendas and digital agendas, especially in regards to digital rights. The open format of the UNCTAD eWeek is aligned with the UNCTAD’s more participatory nature, in comparison to other organizations that work in the same line, such as the World Trade Organization (WTO). In this sense, it is an important space for civil society engagement in these topics.

Data Privacy Brasil’s participation in the event follows a series of activities conducted over the past year, aimed at recognizing the importance of integrating digital and trade issues. Recently, we joined the Digital Trade Alliance, an alliance focused on digital rights and trade, coordinated by the U.S. organization Public Citizen. Additionally, in September, we participated in the WTO Public Forum, coordinating the panel “Unveiling Trade Secrets: Exploring the Implications of Trade Agreements for AI Regulation in the Global South” with the Brazilian Network for the Integration of Peoples (REBRIP).

On that occasion, we had the opportunity to discuss AI regulation from a civil society perspective, with a special focus on the specificities of the Global South, as detailed in our report on the event. At UNCTAD eWeek, Data Privacy Brasil aims to expand this discussion, also considering the recent shifts in the United States’ position towards the WTO, which signals potential regulatory advances on the Big Techs by the Biden administration, and to continue the organization’s commitment to open and inclusive dialogues on these issues.

The UNCTAD eWeek sessions will be in English and they can be attended virtually for free by registering at the link. Registrations are open until December 8th, the last day of the event.

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