Hands of a guy on laptop keyboard

‘Does anyone know of Internet Governance Forum?’

Published on 13 April 2011
Updated on 05 April 2024

Yesterday, one of my search columns on Tweetdeck returned a bunch of interesting tweets. Around ten tweets, under my column ‘Internet Governance’, were in reference to the Internet Governance Forum. The interesting part was that some of the people who posted the tweets sounded like they had never heard about the IGF before.

It was right about then when I came across NDItech’s tweet, ‘Brett of @accessnow: Does anyone know of Internet Governance Forum? Very few hands. Shocking, it’s a good forum for civil society. #NCMR11’

Apparently, Brett Solomon of Access Now, an NGO that campaigns for digital freedom, had just asked the session participants during the National Conference for Media Reform (Boston, US, 8-10 April), whether they knew what IGF was or did.

Another tweet (by @esills) confirmed: ‘Few hands when Brett Solomon asks who knows about Internet Governance Forum. Really important, he says. #ncmr11’.

IGF and policymakers

The lack of awareness on the existence and aims of the IGF and on the discussions and outcomes of its annual meetings is not surprising. Earlier this year, a pronounced call was made during the Open Consultations in February on the need for IGF outcomes to be communicated to policy-makers in a way they can make use of such messages.

Last week, one of the teams of Diplo’s Internet Governance Capacity Building Programme 2011 seized the opportunity to discuss this issue. The Africa SW team asked: How do we deliver key messages from the IGF to policy-makers? How can we raise policy-makers’ interest in the IGF and in its outcomes?

(C) Antenas de Belo Horizonte

The following are the main points the team raised:

  • We need to tell policymakers WHY they need to be involved, what are the benefits of being PART OF THE PROCESS, what the discussions have been SO FAR, and what do we aim to ACHIEVE.
  • Maybe what we need is a WAKE-UP CALL, like no Internet for a whole week worldwide for policymakers to realise the importance of IG! Very often, Disaster Recover Planning does not take place until an actual disaster happens.
  • Policymakers can be attracted to the IGF through information dissemination and awareness-raising, using all forms of MEDIA.
  • IF STAKEHOLDERS CONTRIBUTE REGULARLY through the national press and radio, they can help sensitize not only the policymakers, but also the public. After all, the public can exert a lot of influence on policymakers.
  • As infrastructure is deployed, policymakers and politicians should be made AWARE of the potential for crime and illegal activities these technologies pose.
  • Through science and technical institutes, especially those dealing with e-government and ICTs: many of these institutions have a MANDATE TO ADVISE government on ICT issues, but they rarely use this mandate…
  • Organisations/institutions that are regularly using the Internet infrastructure to run their business/affairs can be used as GATEWAYS to promote discussion.
  • We need an initial PERFECT MARKETING OF THE SUBJECTS OF IG in such a way that will promote participation of stakeholders at the policy level. We need to find a way to TALK to the right people who can easily endorse efforts and sponsor officials to be able to participate in IGF events.

The use of media and other channels within which to convey the messages and outcomes are all effective ways. And so, the issue begs the questions: where do we start? Does every stakeholder have a responsibility to pass on the IGF message/outcomes across one’s community?

Tell us what you think!

To read more about the Internet governance process, download the book An Introduction to Internet Governance and refer to Chapter 8, p.177.

3 replies
  1. Stephanie Borg Psaila
    Stephanie Borg Psaila says:

    Thanks Jacob for your comments! I read the Working Group’s report. Other than what you say, I don’t think there’s more to add, given that the WG didn’t complete its work on time (let’s be realistic, two days is far too short a time). For your reading pleasure, this link
    points to a PDF which lists all the tweets on ‘Internet governance’ posted from Friday 8th April till Thursday 14th April. Among the tweets you’ll also see those which I referred to in the blog post.

  2. Jacob Odame
    Jacob Odame says:

    I found a document on the Internet Society’s website today titled :” Statement by the Internet technical and academic community on the Commission on Science and Technology for Development Working Group (CSTD WG) on improvements to the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)” dated 12 April 2011. The document found here looks a bit interesting because it is calling on the IGF to make more efforts to push the multi-stakeholder approach in the steering of IG. Let me know how you interpret the document after you have read especially its relationship with the above blog.

  3. Jacob Odame
    Jacob Odame says:

    This is interesting. Does it mean the message about IGF has not gone far enough yet? Well I believe we are on course and the capacity we are building is all in the right direction to equip us to engage more in the knowledge space. Well, I followed the #NCMR11 briefly last Saturday. I didn’t get to see that question in my time line, but I see this as an important step for us to look out for all the avenues to make our presence solidly felt.


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