Stephanie Borg Psaila   21 Sep 2010   Internet Governance

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Thoughts and impressions on what was said and unsaid at the Internet Governance Forum held in Vilnius, Lithuania, on 14-17 September, 2010

I am sure that Rod Beckstrom’s clear-cut appeal last week to keep the Internet Governance Forum a multistakeholder forum was met with approval and agreement by a large number of representatives, especially civil society and business representatives.

In his intervention during the IGF’s opening ceremony, ICANN’s President and CEO reiterated that the multistakeholder model has enabled many successes, and that if the IGF has to become a framework of intergovernmental organisations, it would shut out of the debate most Internet users, businesses, service providers, nonprofits and consumers.

'Make no mistake, if we do not address this now effectively, together, the multistakeholder model that has enabled so many successes will slip from our grasp… The IGF derives its strength and legitimacy from its multistakeholder composition. Bringing it into a traditional intergovernmental framework would undermine what the UN itself has been pursuing in recent years…'

While Beckstrom’s intervention can be said to have been the most vociferous of all, similar interventions were made by other representatives during the same opening ceremony, including ISOC, ICC and the IG Caucus, as well as Egypt, France, USA and Kenya.

This intervention comes at a time when the UN is about to decide on the future and format of the IGF. That the IGF will continue to be held is pretty clear, especially with so many states declaring their support towards its continuation, and now with Kenya’s offer to host the next IGF. That the IGF will continue to be held in its current form however remains unclear: some have called for revised working methods; some have called for reviews every 2-3 years; some others have called for the IGF to focus on significant public policy issues.

Based on paragraph 76 of the Tunis Agenda, the Secretary General’s recommendations will be considered during the 65th session of the General Assembly.

Read more about the developments to the IGF process in An Introduction to Internet Governance, pp. 9-11.

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