The Global Network Initiative (GNI) is a growing alliance of ICT companies, human rights and media freedom organizations, responsible investors and academic experts from around the world all dedicated to promoting user rights across the sector. GNI helps companies respect freedom of expression and privacy rights when faced with government demands to hand over user data, remove content, or restrict communications.

GNI was launched in late 2008 as a multistakeholder initiative committed to the GNI Principles on Freedom of Expression and Privacy, together with Implementation Guidelines for companies. GNI’s accountability focus is complemented by its wide-ranging learning activities and policy initiatives as it deepens its impact among its participants and widens its influence with other stakeholders, especially governments and international institutions.

As it enters its second decade, GNI faces a constantly evolving geopolitical and technological as well as policy and regulatory landscape. Its integrated accountability model, learning forum and advocacy platform has the potential to become even more influential in protecting and advancing freedom of expression and privacy in the ICT sector. Meeting this challenge will depend on extending GNI’s reach to other companies across the sector as well as to new participants and stakeholders, especially in the Global South. Success also requires expanding GNI’s funding to strengthen its capacity and impact.

The Independent Chair: Position Description

The next Independent Chair will succeed Mark Stephens CBE after the conclusion of his second three-year term in March 2020. The Independent Chair will be prepared to dedicate at least one-fifth of their time to working closely with the GNI Board, executive director and staff, participants and other stakeholders to strengthen GNI as a global standard and force for freedom of expression and the right to privacy across the ICT sector. The role focuses both internally and externally to advance this mission:

Internally, the Independent Chair will guide the GNI Board’s discussions, deliberations and decisions while listening to and facilitating participation by all members. They will balance diverse constituencies and perspectives with the goal of forging consensus and encouraging action. The Chair should reflect and reinforce GNI’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, especially as the organization seeks to extend its reach to Global South countries. The Chair will also play a critical role as the Board addresses the strategic challenges and opportunities GNI faces in its second decade.

Externally, the Independent Chair, together with the Executive Director, is the primary face and voice of GNI with governments, international institutions, and other stakeholders and audiences. The Chair will demonstrate a command of GNI’s issues and objectives related to freedom of expression and privacy rights in the ICT sector, in order to represent GNI effectively at select major public events and private meetings. The Chair, whatever their geographical background, will promote GNI’s diversity as they represent this increasingly global multistakeholder initiative. The Chair will also engage directly in high-level efforts to expand GNI’s funding base and to encourage new companies to become members.

The Independent Chair will be prepared through experience and expertise to fulfill these responsibilities and to apply these capabilities:


  • Guide governance of the Board (with the Board Secretary and Executive/Management Committee) consistent with the GNI Governance Charter and Board By-Laws;
  • Chair meetings of the Board with the objectives of facilitating substantive discussion, reconciling different viewpoints, and reaching timely decisions based on consensus where possible;
  • Balance the diverse perspectives of the different constituencies, organizations and individuals on the Board and earn trust consistent with the multistakeholder composition and character of GNI;
  • Uphold the GNI Principles of freedom of expression and the right to privacy in the ICT sector amidst the evolving global policy and technology landscape;
  • Represent GNI and advocate its policy positions in public and private settings with governments and international institutions; companies, investors, civil society and academics plus the media;
  • Support the inclusion of new participants (companies, investors, civil society and academics) with an emphasis on gaining global diversity and perspectives from Global South countries;
  • Reinforce development efforts to expand and diversify GNI’s funding from companies, foundations and governments in order to strengthen its capacity and impact;
  • Lead the Board’s deliberations and decisions to address GNI’s challenges and opportunities in its second decade, including its strategic priorities and initiatives.
    — Work closely and collaboratively with the GNI Executive Director and staff as well as the Board in all these dimensions of the role.


  • Proven leadership qualities and strategic vision for GNI’s future
  • Effective public speaking and communication skills in high-level public settings
  • Experience working and negotiating with business, government and NGOs
  • Ability to listen and reconcile diverse perspectives to reach multistakeholder consensus
  • Sensitivity to multicultural diversity and global inclusion
  • Willingness to contribute to fundraising and organizational development
  • Knowledge of human rights, freedom of expression and the right to privacy issues in the ICT sector
  • Familiarity with relevant standards and developments in the business and human rights arena

Practical Considerations for the Role

  • The Independent Chair is expected to dedicate 20-25% of their time to the role.
  • The Independent Chair will serve for a three-year term, renewable for a second and final three-year term (for a maximum of six years).
  • The GNI Board meets at least three times per year in person for one to two full days in different locations, with additional deliberations scheduled as necessary. The Independent Chair (and Board Secretary) co-chair the Executive Management Committee on a bimonthly basis via phone.
  • All necessary travel-related expenses will be reimbursed. The role is currently not compensated but a reasonable honorarium may be possible in certain circumstances.
  • GNI’s working language is English and other languages are useful.

Interested candidates should contact GNI at [email protected].