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IRAN Nuclear Deal; the Flag of Changes? the End of Civil Society Isolation? or What?

Lack of Engagement & Pathological Report

The crucial importance of Iran Nuclear Deal and, hopefully, the imminent expectation, for reaching to an indisputable solution and agreement among 5+1+ Iran (as well as the other parties who claim to have interest in this matter) all have created a special climate and proper ground for all the activists and the observers in order to seriously sit and make a review of the actual situation and the potentials of the main player of the field, say Iran, or Civil Society of Iran; a unique opportunity ever afforded to the Iranian Civil Society within the various economic, social affairs and political fields of concern.

Drastic and significant changes are observed in the governmental policies by the coming of President Rohani to the Office. This period of changes have proved the meaningful achievements of the peaceful preferences in the Nuclear Dispute, mutually adopted by the parties concerned and declared on April 2, 2015 in the form of a Statement on: “Parameters of a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action Regarding The Islamic Republic of Iran’s Nuclear Program”

This is basically expected to be a heralding effort towards the end of the 21st century Cold War. It is time also for the Iranian Civil Society to wake up and to take a joint effort on adoption of a serious Plan of Action toward the fulfillment of its own demands and at least reaching to the minimum understanding of what are its actual position and standing, and what it should be?

It could be undoubtedly stated that at least, in the realm of cyberspace and utilization of internet, all during the past years and by far, Iranian users have suffered disrespect and the worst of treatments from two sides: firstly, on the part of UN and the Western countries by application of the economic sanctions and the other deprivations, and secondly, by the Iranian people’s enduring the repressive policies of state administration which has been claimed to be exercised just for the sake of control of the internal situation and preservation of stability of the country, on the other part.

Disregard of the fact what we would call these, as good or as bad, however, it was the filtering and applying the extreme control and monitor on the media, newspapers, journalists and Civil Society activities which comprised the core of Iranian government social policies, though necessary for the control and protection of the national security and stability, and for holding the flag of independence during all the critical years of dispute.

The evolving Office of President Rohani and the structure of this government have lighted up some new hopes and prospects toward the expansion of Iranian nation’s collaboration with the global community; it is still on the beginning of its way and much trying to overcome the barriers on the way of the people’s engagement, on the way of finding solutions to the social concerns, and on empowering the drive and engine of the economic activities.

It would be a regret to say that the harmful legacy of the past still remains within the warp and woof of the society, in every corner of the community, and in the various snags of underground economy; this legacy, unfortunately, could even be further traced in the complicated exercise of public policies.

For years, the economic policies and social conditions and even some bureaucratic obstacles did not allow the Iranian Civil Society and Private Sector to grow enough and practice their essential roles in the dealings with the other major stakeholder, i.e. Government; the international situation, too, increasingly deteriorated the conditions of Civil Society.

By the way, the only way which Private Sector, as one of the main stakeholders, had got to learn was just to keep the safe side during these years, just to follow up the Government’s policies while all are aware of the negative adverse effect of the state-run and state-owned economy; they have simply forgotten indeed, their essential role as the main unbiased and independent stakeholder in the process of development.

The main injuries were aimed at and practically hit the body of Civil Society; it was like a body which was wrapped and put aside in a detached and isolated condition; this was created for Civil Society by both sides in forms of sanctions, and domestic repressive policies. Consequently, year by year the scattered Civil Society fainted so much to lose even the necessary confidence and motivation for being engaged in social activities.

A Look at Destiny of PersianIGF & Iran ISOC Chapter??!

The very seldom efforts of individuals to initiate communities and get appropriately involved in the progressive advancement of the world communities in the various fields of environment, cyber-space and human rights, unfortunately, failed due to the above-mentioned local and global conditions.

One a witness case of these is the effort for establishing ISOC Chapter for Iran. Just in alignment with the practices in the area of Internet Governance, the meaningful silence taken by ISOC administration against the frequent applications and persistent correspondence from the Iranian activists, just for the purpose of establishing Iran ISOC Chapter, has resulted in a bitter experience forever, circumscribed by these climate and conditions.

The other failure which can be talked of as a similar experience was the destiny of PersianIGF initiative. Many cases like these two confronted with illegal, unreasonable and biased position of the so-called supporting organizations as well as the absence of Civil Society participation. In fact, the result is a total challenge and cause for reflection on the matter of legitimacy of their actions, and even the mere existence of both.

In the present situation, as among the very first priorities, will be actions for rescuing and revitalizing the Iranian Civil Society, technical communities and the academia, as the very urgent, essential and necessary action for making soon a balance in terms of remedy and solution for the absence of the Iranian players in this field.

The patient’s illness is so acute and dangerous that a series of actions should promptly be taken for raising awareness in respect of the urgent operations to be taken to push the patient alive.

Urgent Operations, Solutions

Public Awareness and Capacity Building Programs, aimed at the domestic communities, should be arranged to develop and accelerate the procedure of Iranian players’ engagement in the matter of internet governance. For a specified period of time, there should be taken some actions that may not seem to be required in the other societies, while these are necessary for the Iranian people, at least up until the time a minimum required balance is acquired in the society in terms of ‘Public Awareness’. In the absence of the required awareness and knowledge in the community, no one would feel sick and no one would stand for cure. So, the emerging activities to be comprised of individuals, small groups and NGOs need to be observed and supported by the Government as well as the Regional and Global Communities and Agencies.

International Community’s Remedial Burden to Rescue Iranian Civil Society

International Community, in remedying the pressures which have been applied to keep the Iranian nation deprived, will be obliged to negotiate with State Authorities in organizing and making the required structures for launching Short-Term and Mid-Term Urgent Programs of Action so as to push it for some degree of progress.

Specialized and motivated groups of various disciplines should be gathered and organized in various Working Groups and Task Forces for accomplishing the initial and preliminary studies and researches, and also for implementing public awareness projects in various places of the country.

Fortunately, the recent developments in nuclear issues and the would-be imminent elimination of international sanctions are going to pave the required ground for the global community to partake in and collaborate with Iranian people to improve the national, regional and global targets of development.

APrIGF 2015 Workshop Proposal, another effort to Move Forward

In this regard, A Workshop Proposal with a similar topic has been submitted to Asian Pacific Regional Internet Governance Forum for defining the framework and the main objectives in the course of designing collaborative plans in alignment with preparing the ground and accelerating the procedure for the Iranian Internet Community’s Engagement in the Global Internet Governance Program. The Proposal for a Workshop seeks to find responses and solutions to the issues and topics covering a wide range of objectives, including but not limited to the following:

• Analyzing limitations and barriers existing on the way of Iran Civil Society in the course of its engagement in IG discussions;

• Discussing the destructive role which the UN Sanctions and OFAC limitations would play in increasing the digital divide and bringing further international misunderstanding and also the role they would play in putting aside the effective collaboration with the people and communities who would be isolated and harmed as the result of their actions and omissions.

• Discussing the legal grounds to the convincement on the matter that how the barriers should be removed, and following up the appropriate mechanisms to persuade ISOC for approval of Iran Internet Society chapter.

• Finding the processes and ways for the recovery and revitalization of PersianIGF by pursuing the procedures as were noted at last PersianMAG meeting, for the purpose of cancellation of past initiatives and submitting letter to UNIGF entailing renewal of initiatives;

• Discussing on the solutions along with the attraction and increase of effective participation with global Internet communities and universities, and as a part of the relevant objectives in this field, holding IG Schools and introductory courses in IRAN.

• Discussing on the other solutions for assisting the Iranian people to be heard and collaborated with regional and global Internet governance communities, disregard of the existence of governmental disputes and sanctions.

By Mehrzad Azghandi, Strategic Adviser on Internet Governance

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