Internet Governance Forum

Internet Governance Forum

The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is a multi-stakeholder forum for policy dialogue on issues of Internet governance [ [http://www.intgovforum.org/ The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) ] ] . The establishment of the IGF was formally announced by the United Nations Secretary-General in July 2006 and it was first convened in October / November 2006.

tructure and Function

The formation of the Internet Governance Forum was first recommended in the report of the Working Group on Internet Governance following a series of open consultations. This report was one of the inputs to the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis in 2005, which formally called for the creation of the IGF and set out its mandate. [ [http://www.itu.int/wsis/docs2/tunis/off/6rev1.html Tunis Agenda for the Information Society, para 72] ]

Following an open consultation meeting called in February 2006, the UN Secretary-General established an Advisory Group, the MAG, and a Secretariat as the main institutional bodies of the IGF.

These organizational divisions should not be considered concrete since the organizational structures will continue to be adjusted and to be changed until they fit into the needs of the members.

Multistakeholder Advisory Group - MAG

The Advisory Group, now referred to as the MAG (Multistakeholder Advisory Group), was set up by the former Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr Kofi Annan on May 17, 2006 [ [http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs//2006/sga1006.doc.htm Press Release By the UN ] ] . The MAG was originally made up of 46 Members from international governments, the commercial private sector and public civil society, including academic and technical communities, and was chaired by Nitin Desai- the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser for the World Summit on the Information Society. All stakeholders participate as equals. The purpose for which the MAG was set up was to assist the Secretary General in convening the Internet Governance Forum. On August 20, 2007, the mandate of the MAG was renewed [ [http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs//2007/pi1791.doc.htm Press Release by the UN ] ] with a new structure of 47 members, and a Co-Chairmanship by Nitin Desai [http://www.intgovforum.org/ADG_members.htm List of Advisory Group Members ] ] , and Brazilian diplomat Hadil da Rocha Vianna.The mandate of the MAG was further extended in April 30, 2008 [ [http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2008/pi1829.doc.htm Press Release By The UN ] ] with a renewed one third of its members within each stakeholder group and Nitin Desai serving as the sole Chairman. The MAG meet three times each year - in February, May and September. All three meetings take place in Geneva at the Palais des Nations and they are preceded by open consultations meeting.

The details on MAG's operating principles and selection criteria are contained in the summary report of its February meeting available at this link. [http://www.intgovforum.org/AGD/MAG.Summary.28.02.2008.pdf] [www.intgovforum.org]

On August 22, 2008, the United Nations Office in Geneva renewed the membership of MAG to prepare for the Internet Governance Forum Meeting in Hyderabad, India. There were a total of 50 members, among them 17 new appointed members, which represents 1/3 of its membership. Nitin Desai continues to be the Chairman for the Advisory Group. (Source: UN Department of Public Information, United Nations Office in Genev. Accessed online at: [http://www.unog.ch/unog/website/news_media.nsf/(httpNewsByYear_en)/417AFED5138FD8E5C12574AD002E6C13?OpenDocument] [Renewal of MAG]

ecretariat

The Secretariat, based in the United Nations Office in Geneva, assists and coordinates the work of the MAG, Multistakeholder Advisory Group. The Secretariat is headed by Markus Kummer with the designation of Executive Coordinator and Chengetai Masango is Programme and Technology Manager. The Secretariat also hosts fellowships. [ [http://www.intgovforum.org/about.htm About ] ] . Markus Kummer has also been involved with the WGIG as its Executive Coordinator of the Secretariat [http://www.wgig.org/about.html] .

History and Development of the Internet Governance Forum

WSIS Follow Ups

The IGF is considered an important development of the World Summit on Information Technology (WSIS). This important outcome was reaffirmed by paragraphs 37 and 38 of the Tunis 2005 Commitment. Paragraph 37 states that “…goals can be accomplished through the involvement, cooperation and partnership of governments and other stakeholders, i.e. the private sector, civil society and international organizations, and that international cooperation and solidarity at all levels are indispensable if the fruits of the Information Society are to benefit all.” [http://www.itu.int/wsis/docs2/tunis/off/7.html World Summit on the Information Society. [2005] . The Tunis Commitment [online] . Available from: http://www.itu.int/wsis/docs2/tunis/off/7.html ] ] Corollary to this commitment, paragraph 38 states, too, that all efforts from here on “should not stop with the conclusion of the Summit…emergence of the global Information Society to which we all contribute provides increasing opportunities for all our peoples and for an inclusive global community…we must harness these opportunities today and support their further development and progress.” [ [http://www.itu.int/wsis/docs2/tunis/off/7.html Ibid. ] ]

The Tunis Summit of 2005 made significant headway when the mandate of the IGF was formulated. In paragraph 72 of the Tunis Agenda, the UN Secretary-General was asked to convene a meeting with regards to the new multi-stakeholder forum, otherwise known as the IGF. In this mandate, different stakeholders are encouraged to strengthen engagement, particularly those from developing countries. In paragraph 72(h), the mandate focused on capacity-building for developing countries and the drawing out of local resources. [ [http://www.itu.int/wsis/docs2/tunis/off/6rev1.pdf World Summit on the Information Society. [2005] . Tunis Agenda for the Information Society [online] . Available from: http://www.itu.int/wsis/docs2/tunis/off/6rev1.pdf ] ] This particular effort, for instance, has been reinforced through Diplo Foundation’s Internet Governance Capacity Building Programme (IGCBP) that allowed participants from different regions to benefit from valuable resources with the help of regional experts in IG. [ [http://www.diplomacy.edu/ig Read further on Diplo's "Activities" on "Internet Governance" available from: http://www.diplomacy.edu/ig ] ]

The involvement of different stakeholders in the policy framework of the IGF is a re-affirmation of commitment as per paragraph 39 of the Tunis Commitment. In this particular context, there is a deep resolve to “…develop and implement an effective and sustainable response to the challenges and opportunities of building a truly global Information Society that benefits all our peoples.” During the OECD Civil Society-Organized Labour Forum held last June 16, 2008, in Seoul, Korea, Ambassador David A. Gross of the US Department of State talked about the transformation of the Internet in the social lives of people. He believed that this transformation made an impact in the free flow of information that politically drives challenges. Ambassador Gross commented on the 2005 WSIS because of the powerful language used on paragraph 4 of the Tunis agenda that reiterated on openness. [ [http://www.diplomacy.edu/ig/communityblog.asp Read further on the community blog of Diplo Foundation, specifically on OECD impressions: http://www.diplomacy.edu/ig/communityblog.asp ] ]

Formation of the IGF

A multi-stakeholder’s approach was reiterated in the coordination of international activities for the IGF. This adaptation was set from paragraphs 29 to 35 of the Tunis agenda. These stakeholders were defined as coming from governments, the private technical and economic sector, civil society, intergovernmental organizations, and international organizations. In paragraph 32, the UN Secretary-General was commended for his efforts in establishing the Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG).

The suggested need of an organization like the IGF was first pointed out in the WGIG Report. After reaching a clear consensus among its members the WGIG proposed in paragraph 40 of the Report that :

"(t)he WGIG identified a vacuum within the context of existing structures, since there is no global multi-stakeholder forum to address Internet-related public policy issues. It came to the conclusion that there would be merit in creating such a space for dialogue among all stakeholders. This space could address these issues, as well as emerging issues, that are cross-cutting and multidimensional and that either affect more than one institution, are not dealt with by any institution or are not addressed in a coordinated manner”."

The IGF was one of four proposals made in the report.

The idea of the Forum was also proposed by Argentina, as stated in its proposal [ [http://www.itu.int/wsis/docs2/pc3/working/dt18.html Argentina´s Forum Proposal in WSIS] ] made during the last Prepcom 3 in Tunis:

"(t)In order to strengthen the global multistakeholder interaction and cooperation on public policy issues and developmental aspects relating to Internet governance we propose a forum. This forum should not replace existing mechanisms or institutions but should build on the existing structures on Internet governance, should contribute to the sustainability, stability and robustness of the Internet by addressing appropriately public policy issues that are not otherwise being adequately addressed excluding any involvement in the day to day operation of the Internet. It should be constituted as a neutral, non-duplicative and non-binding process to facilitate the exchange of information and best practices and to identify issues and make known its findings, to enhance awareness and build consensus and engagement. Recognizing the rapid development of technology and institutions, we propose that the forum mechanism periodically be reviewed to determine the need for its continuation.”"

The convening of the IGF was announced on 18 July 2006, with the inaugural meeting of the Forum being held in Athens, Greece from 30 October to 2 November 2006.

Consultations

There were two rounds of consultations with regards to the convening of the first IGF:

[1] 16 – 17 of February 2006 – The first round of consultations was held in Geneva. The transcripts of the two-day consultations are available in the IGF site. [ [http://www.intgovforum.org 16 February 2006 transcripts are available from: http://intgovforum.org/contributions/IGF-1-0216.txt and http://intgovforum.org/contributions/IGF-1-021606pm.txt ] ] [ [http://www.intgovforum.org 17 February 2006 transcripts are available from: http://intgovforum.org/contributions/UN-IGF-AM-2-17-06.txt and http://intgovforum.org/contributions/UN-IGF-PM-2-17-06.txt ] ]

[2] 19 May 2006 – The second round of consultations was open to all stakeholders and was coordinated for the preparations of the inaugural IGF meeting. The meeting chairman was Nitin Desai who is the United Nations Secretary-General's Special Adviser for Internet Governance. [ [http://www.intgovforum.org A summary of contributions is available from http://intgovforum.org/Summary%20of%20discussions.htm ] ]

The Second Meeting of the IGF

Consultations held in Geneva last May 23, 2007 were open to all stakeholders. This consultation was part of a cluster of related events of the WSIS that took place last 15-25 of May 2007. [ [http://www.itu.int/wsis/follow-up/index.html Read further on the WSIS related events available from: http://www.itu.int/wsis/follow-up/index.html ] ] An advisory group was also facilitated for the IGF meeting in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The IGF open Consultations held last 3 September 2007 was held in Geneva. [ [http://www.intgovforum.org/IGF-03Sept07Consultation.txt Transcript for 3 September 2007 open consultations is available from: http://www.intgovforum.org/IGF-03Sept07Consultation.txt ] ]

For further information, a summary of the IGF consultations and meetings can be found below:


Main sessions

The main sessions were developed according the 5 themes chosen for this year: Critical Internet Resources, Access, Diversity, Openness and Security.

Please see below the summary of the main sessions:

Opening Ceremony/Opening Session

The multistakeholder approach were highlighted by many speakers and panelists during the Opening Session, including the message from the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, which was read by the UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, M. Sha Zukang.

M. Ban Ki-Moon assures that it is not a UN goal to take over Internet Governance but only offers an opportunity to get together people with the same interest in a global reach. [ Available at: http://www.intgovforum.org/Rio_Meeting/IGF2-opening-12NOV07.txt (page 1)]

M. Sha Zukang concludes that the IGF was a unique experience because “it brings together people who normally do not meet under the same roof”. [Available at: http://www.intgovforum.org/Rio_Meeting/IGF2-opening-12NOV07.txt (page 2)]

Development were also a key discussion in IGF-RIO, as the theme chosen for this meeting, including the breaking of digital divide, which becomes the theme for the next IGF: "Internet for All."

The nature and prospective of the IGF were also discussed, as the Chairman properly summarizes:

"“Several participants underlined that the IGF was not only a space for dialogue, but also a medium that should encourage fundamental change at the local level to empower communities, build capacity and skills enable the Internet`s expansion, thereby contributing to economic and social development."

Critical Internet Resources

Access

Diversity

Openness

Security Issues

Taking Stock and the Way Forward

Emerging Issues

This session aims to identify key issues in Internet Governance that should be addressed in the Forum. The first obstacle was to filter some themes, as there is a variety of interests to be held in such a generic target.There were four themes proposed:

(i) demand and supply side initiatives (by Robert Pepper). He brought into debate the economic concept of demand and supply applied to Internet Governance. On the demand side, there were interesting proposals, such as the need for educating trough capacity-building Internet users, the ability of people controlling their web ID (part of educating the usage in Internet), local content in local languages (enforcing local community) and improving public policies (but not over regulating, such as prohibiting or limiting access to VoIP, which can suppress the demand). On the supply side, there were the common concern of extending Internet users/access, but also considering "“the opportunities created by the release of spectrum through the switch to digital broadcasting were highlighted. Some speakers suggested that such spectrum could be used to support new broadband networks and support new investment and innovative services, while others held the view that this would not be a sustainable solution.”"

(ii) social, cultural and political issues of Web 2.0 (by Andrew Keen);

(iii) access (particularly in Africa, by Nii Quaynor) and

(iv) innovation, research and development (by Robert Kahn).

Another challenge was to discuss emerging issues in a global forum with different perspectives, for example, developed and developing countries realities; democratic and non-democratic political regimes; and etc.

Closing Session

Future IGF Meetings

2008 The third IGF meeting will be held in Hyderabad, India from 3-6 December 2008. [http://igf2008.in/]
2009 The Government of Egypt offered to host the 2009 IGF meeting.
2010 The Governments of Lithuania and Azerbaijan have made bids for the 2010 meeting.

References

External links

* [http://www.intgovforum.org Internet Governance Forum]
* [http://igf2008.in/ IGF - Hyderabad 2008]
* [http://www.igfbrazil2007.br IGF - Brazil 2007]
* [http://www.igfgreece2006.gr IGF - Greece 2006]
* [http://www.igf-online.net IGF Community Site]
* [http://ipjustice.org/wp/campaigns/igf/ IP Justice IGF webpage]
* [http://www.diplomacy.edu/Conferences/IG/default.asp Internet Governance: The Way Forward] . An international conference organised by DiploFoundation discusses the objectives, multi-stakeholder composition, organisation and relevance of Internet Governance Forum.
*International conference presentation: [http://www.diplomacy.edu/Conferences/MSD/papers/kurbalija.pdf "Internet Governance and Multistakeholder Diplomacy"] by Jovan Kurbalija. The presentation reflects on the diplomatic dimension of internet management, the multistakeholder composition and inter-professional dimension of the Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG).


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