The Resource section of the IDEA Youth Forum aims to help all of those coming to the forum, including debaters, coaches and trainers, as well as those who are interested in learning more about the Forum, familiarize themselves with the Forum Topics and the main themes that the topics cover. It includes research articles, PROS & CONS on selected topics and other relevant news pieces.

The theme for this year’s Forum is Digital Freedom

Debates on digital freedom (and its limits) have to question on the one hand the changing notion of what constitutes ‘freedom’ and ‘rights’ in the digital age, and on the other, to what extent current social institutions and bureaucracies are fit to deal with the changes brought about by this digital age. There is no doubt that the digital revolution has significantly altered the way in which society functions, the way in which we think of information and its purpose, as well as our expectations about access to information and who should provide it. The individual empowerment brought about by digital technologies signals a decreased reliance on the state – particularly when it comes to information and the processing of this information. It also signals an increased awareness of the state as well as corporations directly involved in building and maintaining the digital infrastructure as ultimately in a position of control.  

With increased dependence on information, our trust in both the state and these corporations diminishes while demands for designing a clearer infrastructure to insure digital freedom are on the rise.  While many understand digital freedom to be a desirable good, limits are also envisioned as ways to insure equal access, abuse of information and privacy as well as state security. When debating digital freedom and its limits, I hope that we will be able to discuss in more detail how our notion of personal freedom is increasingly tied to our access to information and ability to actively contribute to that information; how our ideas about personal rights are increasingly tied to our ability to manage information concerning ourselves – through the right to privacy, the right to post and access certain information;  and how the state and other bureaucracies manage information that directly concerns us.

The digital age has undeniably changed our understanding of ourselves as citizens, our relationship to the state and its bureaucracies as well as our awareness of the role that other bureaucracies play in shaping our lives. Our increased expectations for unlimited access to information challenge historical traditions of secrecy on which many state and other social, political and economic institutions are based. The rise of a so-called ‘digital civil society’ points to a significant change in the ‘social contract’ with citizens being less willing to entrust others with decision-making, particularly in instances where it is becoming increasingly obvious that  some of these decisions might not be in the citizens’ collective or individual interest. 

The digital debate forms an important battleground in which actors seek to secure specific interests: states generally seek to maintain their authority; corporations generally seek to push for increased autonomy; citizens generally seek to maximize their access information and ability to create new information; while many non-governmental actors seek to better understand what the right balance between freedoms and limits is when it comes to designing suitable institutions for the digital age. When we defend or criticize the positions of these different actors, it is important to keep in mind how the historical relationship between them is increasingly challenged and what they each stand to win and lose in an increasingly digital world. 

Background Paper for Coaches: This elaborate document explains the core issues affecting citizens' freedom online, as well as the context in which limitations on digital freedo mare seen as legitimate. We recommend that all coaches read this before starting preparation with their teams.

Debates – Pros and Cons (coming soon): user-friendly presentation of arguments for and against specific Securing Liberty topics, together with brief introductions and suggested further reading.

Further Reading: Links to articles and books related to this year's Forum theme.

Trainers’ Manual from IDEA Forum 2011: the curriculum contains sessions and lesson plans on debate and the topic of international migration.

Video Debates: A series of debates recorded in London by experienced speakers on Digital Freedom.