[AfrICANN-discuss] ECOSOC extends IGF improvements working group
annerachel at gmail.com
Thu Aug 4 22:18:59 SAST 2011
ECOSOC extends IGF improvements working group
by Kristin Weinberger <http://news.dot-nxt.com/user/166> | 3 Aug 2011 |
The Commission on Science and Technology for Development Working Group
(CSTDWG) on improvements to the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) has been
given another year to fulfill its mandate.
the United Nations (UN) secretary-general was urged to ensure the continued
functioning of the IGF and its structuresOn 26 July, the Economic and Social
Council (ECOSOC) adopted a
the mandate of the working group until the fifteenth session of
the CSTD. The CSTDWG was invited to complete its task on the basis of work
already accomplished and the United Nations (UN) secretary-general was urged
to ensure the continued functioning of the IGF and its structures.
*Work already accomplished*
The mandate of the CSTDWG was to develop a list of recommendations for
improving the IGF based on feedback solicited from member states and other
relevant stakeholders. But the working group was unable to extract a list of
recommendations from the all questionnaire responses and debates.
As we reported in June <http://news.dot-nxt.com/2011/06/01/cstd-report>,
over the course of two, two-day meetings in February and March of this year,
68 participants were able to produce the questionnaire, generate reports and
debate at length. But even a marathon final session was insufficient to
overcome the "significant divergence of views" among member states. As a
result, it was suggested that the working group extend its deliberations.
*High praise for the IGF*
The ECOSOC discussion of the working group prompted a few tributes to the
IGF and its achievements of the past five years.
The United States government representative, John Sammis, declared the
success of the IGF the most notable accomplishment of the UN in fulfilling
commitments made at the World Summit on the Information SocietyThe United
States government representative, John Sammis, declared the success of the
IGF the most notable accomplishment of the UN in fulfilling commitments made
at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and, in particular,
the Millennium Development Goals. According to the UN secretary-general's
report, said Sammis, the IGF enjoys nearly universal support among
The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) also identified the IGF as one
of the most effective and useful outcomes of the WSIS. According to the ICC,
the Forum has promoted a deeper understanding of Internet policy issues and
stimulated engagement in communities.
The IGF has enjoyed growing participation and support, which, according to
the United Kingdom (UK), demonstrate the IGF's unique ability to link
inter-governmental organizations, governments, industry, civil society and
Of course, no one is claiming that the IGF is perfect. The UK is looking to
the working group for improvements to the IGF that could maximize the
engagement of stakeholders from developing countries. Still, the UK's Aaron
Holtz described the IGF as agile, open and inclusive and recognized its
success in creating a space where all stakeholders enjoy equal footing in
engaging on Internet governance-related issues.
*Equitable representation and enhanced cooperation*
Other member states expressed much less confidence in the IGF's ability to
serve developing countriesOther member states expressed much less confidence
in the IGF's ability to serve developing countries and implement the Tunis
Agenda for the Information
the consensus statement of the WSIS.
Tshihumbudzo Ravhandalala, speaking on behalf of South Africa, as well as
India and Brazil, argued that Internet governance currently lacks equitable
representation, transparency and inclusiveness at the international level.
Ravhandalala expressed concern that no substantial progress has been made in
executing the Tunis Agenda: all governments should have an equal role and
equal responsibility for Internet governance, and other stakeholders should
be consulted during the process of policy making. Even as public policy
issues proliferate, he said, the mandated process toward enhanced
cooperation has still to be operationalized.
'Enhanced cooperation' is a process for global Internet policy making. While
the US and Europe try to maintain the status quo of loose government control
and private sector-run development, other countries -- including South
Africa, India, Brazil and Iran -- would prefer enhanced cooperation through
an inter-governmental framework such as the ITU, the UN agency for
information and communication technologies.
*Re-locating Internet governance to the UN*
The marginalization of developing countries in the area of international
Internet governance is contrary to the WSIS outcomes, said Iran's Alireza
TootoonchianAccording to Iran's representative, enhanced cooperation is
required if governments of developed and developing countries are going to
be made equal. The marginalization of developing countries in the area of
international Internet governance is contrary to the WSIS outcomes, said
Iran's Alireza Tootoonchian, and needs to be reversed. He contended that
policy authority for Internet-related issues is the sovereign right of
states and the Internet is no less important than other areas benefiting
from inter-governmental institutional structures.
Saudi Arabia requested a governance process "institutionalized and enhanced
by members of the UN family" in order to maximize the representation of all
governments. And, although Juan Antonio Quintanilla of Cuba expressed
support for the extension of the work of the IGF, he also shared the view
that the best forum for discussing the issue was within the UN, at the
General Assembly. Cuba would like to see the IGF move beyond (or give up)
its role as a forum for open dialogue and begin issuing recommendations to
South Africa's Ravhandalala urged member states to create a platform under
the UN for comprehensive and systematic consideration of -- and
decision-making on -- public policy issues pertaining to the Internet.
Other stakeholders believe that 'enhanced cooperation' should not be limited
to government representatives, but should include civil society and the
private sectorOther stakeholders believe that 'enhanced cooperation' should
not be limited to government representatives, but should include civil
society and the private sector. What makes the IGF unique is its
multi-stakeholderism, its financial independence and its status as a
non-decision-making forum, a place where dialogue is never squelched by
According to the US, the multi-stakeholder forum facilitates an open and
constructive dialogue and acts as a catalyst for the creation of other
national, regional and international multi-stakeholder processes -- just as
envisaged in the Tunis Agenda.
The US credits the openness and inclusiveness of the multi-stakeholder model
with the ability to manage issues with the speed and flexibility required
and with the broader and more creative involvement available for problem
Distributed systems require distributed action, so no single institution,
document, arrangement or instrument could on its own address the needs of a
networked world. What is required, said Sammis, is collaboration and respect
for the expertise and roles of all responsible parties.
In order to ensure the IGF's continued success (according to some) and
improvement (desired by all), the UK supports the effort to give all
stakeholders the opportunity to review the IGF's procedures, planning and
*Moving forward: the resolution*
The resolution passed by the ECOSOC (available in the report of the CSTD's
extends the mandate of the CSTDWG and also calls upon all states to:
- Not get in the way of economic and social development;
- work with all stakeholders to bridge the digital divide, move toward
e-Government and focus on pro-poor information and communications technology
policies and applications, including access to broadband; and,
- ensure the continued functioning of the IGF and its structures in
preparation for future IGF meetings.
The fifth meeting of the Internet Governance Forum will take place 27 to 30
September 2011, in Nairobi, Kenya.
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