Global Information Society Watch (GISWatch) is a space for collaborative monitoring of implementation of international (and national) commitments made by governments towards the creation of an inclusive information society.

It focuses on monitoring progress made towards implementing the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) action agenda and other international and national commitments related to information and communications. It also provides analytical overviews of institutions involved in implementation. GISWatch aims to make governments and international organisations accountable for meeting the commitments they make through contributing to building a strong and sustainable global civil society policy advocacy network.

The GISWatch Reports are a series of yearly reports covering the state of the information society from the perspectives of civil society.

GISWatch is not only a publication, it is a process. The long-term goal of the project is to build policy analysis skills and "habits" into the work of civil society organisations that work in the areas of ICT for development, democracy and social justice.

Frequently asked questions

What is the purpose of GISWatch?

The purpose of GISWatch is to give a voice to civil society organisations and other social justice actors working primarily in the global South. The focus is on issues and challenges faced in building a people-centred and inclusive information society in those countries, and globally. By publishing country reports from as many as 60 countries on a particular theme in each edition, it aims to identify common struggles and practical advocacy solutions to those struggles, and to help build solidarity amongst activists across the world. Please see “What do you mean by global South?” in this FAQ.

Alternatively this could be reframed as follows:

GISWatch is a platform that provides critical global South civil society perspectives on the state of the information societies and proposes action steps towards deepening democracy, bringing human rights to the forefront and achieving social justice. It addresses relevant issues related to the evolution and state of the information societies with focus, consistency and breadth of coverage from an advocacy perspective.

What is the purpose of writing a GISWatch report?

The purpose of writing a GISWatch report is to give you, as an organisation, activist or individual concerned with social justice, an opportunity to better understand the environment you work in, and to share important perspectives and challenges with a global community. It is an opportunity to research a new area for advocacy, to promote an advocacy perspective locally, regionally and globally, to strengthen your advocacy work on social justice, and to propose concrete ways to address the challenges you identify. By writing a GISWatch report you also have the opportunity to connect with other authors from across the world who share your concerns and struggles. In this way GISWatch strengthens solidarity between activists globally.

Who writes for GISWatch?

Reports are typically written by civil society organisations, activists, researchers, academics, journalists and other groups or individuals interested in social justice, the internet and creating a better world.

What do you mean by global South?

A basic list of countries often considered as being part of the “global South” can be found here. However, our understanding of the global South is more inclusive and does not only refer to it as a geographical place. While GISWatch prioritises voices from the global South, it also recognises that systemic oppression, exclusion and discrimination happen in all countries in the world affecting marginalised, excluded and silenced populations and groups, such as undocumented migrants, ethnic or religious minorities, victims of sexism, violence of various kinds, racism, etc. Because of this, although we focus on countries from the “global South”, and these countries make up the bulk of our country reports, GISWatch aims to problematise the notions and aspects around these issues and we do consider proposals from countries in the “global North” that are relevant to each year's theme.

Can authors from the “global North” contribute?

Yes. Although we focus on countries from the “global South”, and these countries make up the bulk of our country reports, we do consider proposals from countries in the “global North”. Usually these country reports focus on social justice issues in their countries relevant to the theme. We have published reports from Canada, Australia, Russia, South Korea, France and Germany, amongst others. Please see “What do you mean by global South?” in this FAQ.

How is a theme decided each year?

The theme for each year is decided on by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC). Important issues that need to be addressed through GISWatch are identified through APC's advocacy, project and research work, its participation in various advocacy spaces and forums and its interactions with its members and partners. Specific topics that need to be addressed within a particular theme are decided on in consultation with an expert advisory group that is set up for each edition. To explore the themes GISWatch authors have written on in the past, please visit giswatch.org.

When you mention technology, do you mean the internet only?

No. We often use the term “internet” as a short-hand way to refer to information and communications technologies (ICTs) generally. The internet has, of course, become an important part of our social and political existence, and is central to the evolving information society. However, authors in the past have written on so-called “killer robots”, on artificial intelligence and the arts, and on the use of 3D printers to produce artificial limbs. It all depends if these uses of technology are relevant to a particular GISWatch theme. Ask us if you are unsure!

How many reports do you publish in each edition of GISWatch?

Typically we publish around eight thematic reports written by experts on the GISWatch theme chosen for each year. Anything from 40-60 country reports are published each year, depending on the theme.

Who reads GISWatch?

GISWatch reports are read widely by people working in different fields, including activists, donors, researchers, journalists, policy-makers and academics. Sometimes it is even used for teaching in universities. Each edition of GISWatch receives some mainstream media attention, depending on the theme, and authors also translate their reports into local languages for further dissemination. Reports are often republished by other organisations, such as ALAI, which translates a selection of reports into Spanish for regional distribution. Authors use reports in different ways, including as advocacy documents, to build networks around an issue, or to support fundraising for new projects. All of these different uses of the reports means that the reports reach different audiences and readers in a practical way.

Do authors get paid?

Yes. We set aside an honorarium for each report which is stipulated in the call for proposals. This is an amount paid for each report. If there is more than one author writing a report, the amount paid does not change. If there is more than one author we pay the amount to an elected author, and they decide how to share the honorarium after that.

Are you thinking of writing for GISWatch?

Who has copyright of the report I write?

You do. GISWatch reports are published under the creative commons license: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0). This means you can do what you like with your report once it is published. The only requirements is that you state that it was first published in GISWatch, with a link to the specific GISWatch edition your report was published in. See giswatch.org for more information.

Does my report need to be in English?

Yes. For practical reasons, GISWatch is published in English. If you are not a strong English speaker, we encourage you to work with others to make sure you are saying what you want to say clearly. Many authors chose to translate their report after it has been published, so that it can be shared locally.

What if my English is not that good, can I still contribute?

Yes. However, we encourage you to work with someone who is a good English speaker to make sure that your report is saying what you want to say clearly.

Is there a structure that each report must follow?

Yes. There is a template that we provide authors for the country reports that should be followed. This is to help authors structure their reports coherently, and to allow some comparison between country reports. However, the aim of the template is not to restrict authors. While some sections are necessary, such as the “Introduction”, which needs to set the context of the report for the reader, and “Action steps”, which concretely spell out advocacy solutions to the challenges identified in the report, we do allow authors some leeway in writing their report in a way that makes sense to them.

What do you mean by “Action steps”?

GISWatch country reports aim to provide practical advocacy “next steps” to the issues and challenges raised in the report. These are a very important part of the report writing process, and authors need to spend some time thinking through these properly. While the country report helps others identify challenges in countries on a specific issue, the “Action steps” provide concrete guidance to civil society organisations and activists on how to improve the situation through policy advocacy, communication, protest, research and new projects, amongst other activities.

Do I really have to bother with the references in my report?

Yes. APC sends authors a reference style guide that needs to be followed for all your referencing. This is very important, because all reports need to be referenced in the same way in the final publication. Make sure you set aside a few hours to read the reference guide and to format your references carefully according to the instructions. It is a good idea to keep a list of your references as you read background material for your report, so that you don't have to struggle to find the source of a quote.

Is there a particular style guide I should follow when writing my report?

Yes. APC has a house style guide that is followed in all publications, including GISWatch. You can familiarise yourself with it before beginning the writing process, and check it for commonly asked issues around styling (e.g. date and number formatting, preferred spelling, grammatical options, etc.). The style guide can be found online here.

What happens if my report is way longer than what you asked for?

We need you to stick as much as possible to the recommended word count, which is included in the terms of reference. If you report is longer, we may return it and ask you to cut it down before editing.

Can I co-write the report?

Yes. Sometimes GISWatch reports have multiple authors. In fact, we encourage GISWatch authors to work with others so that the report is inclusive. We are only able to pay one honorarium for the report, however, which then needs to be shared amongst the authors in the most appropriate way.

Do I need to engage other activists working on the same issue in my country?

Ideally we would like you to do this, where it is possible. This can be done in many ways, such as inviting other activists to contribute to the report, or interviewing them and including their perspectives in the report. You might also consider sharing a draft of your report with others for their comments. In this way you will be able to make your report inclusive of civil society activism in your country, and, in the end, stronger as an advocacy tool.

What happens once my proposal is approved?

If your proposal is selected, the report you write on your chosen topic must be written in English and have a maximum length of (usually around 2,300 words). For consistency, the report should be developed using a template that will be provided to authors (please see Is there a structure that each report must follow?” in this FAQ). APC will provide you with background readings, offer an online session to help orientate you to the topic, and support you during the writing process. A mailing list will be set up where you will be able to share your questions, ideas and resources with other country report authors contributing to this edition.

How does the editing process work?

Once submitted, your report will be edited by the GISWatch editor, and returned to you for clarifications or to respond to editorial comments. In order to ensure consistency in the quality of reports published, editorial comments are often substantial, so proper time needs to be allocated by the authors to respond to the necessary questions and changes. Once finalised, the report is sent for proofreading.

How do I get paid for my report?

Once your report has been edited, and you have attended to all the necessary clarifications and changes requested, it will be sent for proofreading. At this point you will be able to send an invoice to the GISWatch project coordinator. Please look out for an email from APC stating what kind of information needs to be included in the invoice.

How do I get a print copy of the book?

Since the publication of the 2020 edition of GISWatch on environmental justice, we have made the decision to go paper-free with the production of GISWatch and the reports are available for digital download only. The increasing severity of the climate crisis coupled with the move to more online engagement mean that there is little to justify the environmental cost of producing paper copies. GISWatch reports are available for digital download in a number of formats (including PDF, MOBI and EPUB) to accommodate most electronic devices and e-readers.

Where is the report published?

The report is published online. See giswatch.org for past reports.

About us

The Global Information Society Watch is a joint initiative of the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), and follows up on our long-term interest in the impact of civil society on governance processes and our efforts to enhance public participation in national and international forums.

  • Association for Progressive Communications (APC)
    The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) is an international network of civil society organisations dedicated to empowering and supporting groups and individuals working for peace, human rights, development and protection of the environment, through the strategic use of information and communication technologies, including the internet.
  • Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida)
    Sida is a government agency working on behalf of the Swedish parliament and government, with the mission to reduce poverty in the world. Sida carries out enhanced development cooperation with a total of 35 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America. Sida’s mission is to allocate aid and other funding.

GISWatch 2021-2022 - Digital futures for a post-pandemic world was possible thanks to the generous support of:

GISWatch 2020 - Technology, the environment and a sustainable world: Responses from the global South was possible thanks to the generous support of:

GISWatch 2019 - Artificial intelligence: Human rights, social justice and development was possible thanks to the generous support of:

GISWatch 2018 - Community Networks was possible thanks to the generous support of:

GISWatch 2017 - National and Regional Internet Governance Forum Initiatives (NRIs) was possible thanks to the generous support of:

GISWatch 2016 - Economic, social and cultural rights (ESCRs) and the internet was possible thanks to the generous support of:

GISWatch 2015 - Sexual rights and the internet has been possible thanks to the generous support of:

GISWatch 2014 - Communications surveillance in the digital age has been possible thanks to the generous support of:

GISWatch 2013 - Women's rights, gender and ICTS has been possible thanks to the generous support of:

GISWatch 2012 - The internet and corruption has been possible thanks to the generous support of:

GISWatch 2011 - Internet rights and democratisation has been possible thanks to the generous support of:

GISWatch 2010 - ICTs and environmental sustainability was possible thanks to the generous support of:

GISWatch 2009 - Access to online information and knowledge was possible thanks to the generous support of:

GISWatch 2008 - Access to infrastructure was possible thanks to the generous support of:

GISWatch 2007 - Participation was possible thanks to the generous support of: