Grassroots organizations working on digital rights and digital security often encounter the challenge of limited opportunities for in-person collaboration. EngageMedia, in partnership with ICNL, organized an event to address this issue and foster collaboration among these organizations. The event aimed to map current issues, promote sustainable projects, and enhance government engagement, particularly in the legal sector.

During the DRAPAC23 Assembly, digital rights organizations from the GIF implementation countries in the SEA region convened to share their experiences with government engagement. It was revealed that common challenges, such as restricted access to crucial information and government resistance to criticism, were hindering progress in digital rights advocacy. The event explored the role of regional and international organizations in aiding LPs to effectively approach government agencies and contribute to digital rights legislation.

Success stories highlighted during the event underscored the significance of involving third parties, such as the private sector, non-traditional partners, and the public, in government engagement efforts. Moreover, the event spotlighted the necessity for enhanced protection of activists and their physical safety. Specific recommendations included providing access to security measures for communities at risk, conducting legal analyses on the impact of technology and Internet laws on human rights, and facilitating dialogue between the government and local NGOs when necessary.

Through knowledge sharing and reflection, participants gained a deeper understanding of effective engagement strategies. The in-person co-learning session created a collaborative environment that enabled LPs to refine their strategies and adapt to changing conditions. By confronting challenges directly and leveraging collective expertise, the event significantly contributed to strengthening government engagement and promoting sustainable digital rights and security initiatives.

The event’s outcomes encompassed networking and collaboration, with professionals who typically work in isolation having the chance to meet in person, thereby fostering stronger connections, knowledge sharing, and collaboration. It also sparked discussions on potential joint initiatives and collective actions, aligning efforts to tackle common challenges and amplify impact. Partners recognized the importance of expanding their network to include non-traditional stakeholders, thereby fostering broader collaboration and support for digital rights initiatives.