Internet governance and digital policy

Internet governance is a new topic on the global policy agenda and is addressed in a wide variety of global public and business forums. For many small and developing countries with limited resources and institutional capacity in this sector, it is a major challenge to follow and participate in these processes.

Diplo provides capacity development support through online and blended courses, policy research, policy immersion and community support. Browse this portal, and learn more about our philosophy and approach. Get in touch with Diplo’s IG Team.

Science & Diplomacy: How countries interact with the Boston innovation ecosystemUpdate: Science & Diplomacy: How countries interact with the Boston innovation ecosystem

The report Science & Diplomacy: How countries interact with the Boston innovation ecosystem, on how diplomatic representations use their science and technology arms to conduct activities in the Boston ecosystem, is now available for download.

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What is Internet governance?

Internet governance can be defined as the development and application by governments, the private sector, and civil society, in their respective roles, of shared principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures, and programmes that shape the evolution and use of the Internet. (WGIG, 2015)

Although Internet governance deals with the core of the digital world, governance cannot be handled with the digital-binary logic of the true or false, or good or bad. Instead, the subject demands many subtleties and shades of meaning and perception, requiring an analogue approach, covering a continuum of options and compromises.


An Introduction to Internet GovernanceThe book An Introduction to Internet Governance, by Dr Jovan Kurbalija, now in its seventh edition, needs no introduction. It provides a comprehensive overview of the main issues and actors in the field through a practical framework for analysis, discussion, and resolution of significant issues, and is one of the most widely-used books by IG professionals. The book has been translated into 10 languages. Download the latest edition, or any of the translated versions.

Taxonomy: 40 issues, 7 baskets

MapDiplo’s classification of Internet governance groups the main 40+ issues into the following seven categories, or ‘baskets’: Infrastructure and Standardisation, Security, Human Rights, Legal, Economic, Development, and Socio-cultural. Although this categorisation was needed for the purposes of classifying the policy areas into broad areas, many of the digital policy areas interact with other areas in different clusters.

This taxonomy was first developed in 1997 by Dr Jovan Kurbalija, and then introduced in the book An Introduction to Internet Governance (now in its sixth edition). It was later adopted in Diplo’s Internet governance courses. The taxonomy is under regular development to account for emerging trends and new developments in this vibrant process. Today, it is used as the underlying structure for the GIP Digital Watch observatory, a comprehensive Internet governance and digital policy observatory. It has also been adopted in the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development’s report on Mapping of international Internet public policy issues, and in the GIPO initiative sponsored by the European Commission.

Explore each basket on the GIP Digital Watch observatory.

GIP Digital Watch observatory

GIP Digital Watch observatoryThe GIP Digital Watch observatory, an initiative of the Geneva Internet Platform (operated by DiploFoundation) in partnership with the Internet Society, is a comprehensive Internet governance and digital policy observatory. The platform – at – provides a neutral one-stop shop for live developments, overviews and explanatory texts, events, resources, and other content related to Internet governance and digital policy. It draws from the strengths of its partners’ assets: the resources DiploFoundation has developed over the last 15 years, the Geneva Internet Platform’s international reach, and the Internet Society’s network of Chapters that will help shape localised content.

The observatory:

  • maintains a comprehensive live summary of the latest developments in digital policy;
  • provides an overview of issues, actors and ongoing process;
  • maintains a live calendar of upcoming and past events;
  • provides access to the latest research and data on Internet policy.
  • is enriched by quantitative research (e.g. data-mining of open data, topic profiling).

Monthly IG briefings

Hub imageThe monthly Geneva Internet Platform briefings provide a ‘zoomed-out’ update of the major global digital policies and Internet governance developments. Every month, the briefings round-up the developments of the previous weeks, and discuss their impact on other areas and on future developments. The briefings are held every last Tuesday of the month. Participants can join in Geneva, or online, from one of the GIP local hubs. Follow the links on our calendar of Internet governance events to participate in the next briefing. Learn more about the briefings and access the archive of recordings, digests and other resources.

GIP hubs provide a great opportunity to meet others working in Internet governance. We encourage you to establish a GIP hub in your local community to enable you to follow the global digital developments and to have sustainable discussions with others from your local community. The GIP can provide organisational and promotional support. If you are interested in establishing a local hub, let us know.

The GIP briefings are organised by the Geneva Internet Platform (operated by DiploFoundation) as part of the GIP Digital Watch initiative. The briefings complement the GIP Digital Watch observatory and the monthly Geneva Digital Watch newsletter.

Digital Watch newsletter

DW newsletterThe Geneva Digital Watch newsletter is a monthly newsletter, published by the Geneva Internet Platform/DiploFoundation, which includes a round-up of developments for each month, interviews with prominent Internet governance experts, features and articles on various digital policy areas, and a just-for-fun section. Read or download the latest version of the newsletter.

The newsletter was created by the GIP and DiploFoundation in 2015 with the aim of providing digital policy practitioners a regular round-up of global developments, and analysis on the most topical issues of the month. Updates on Geneva events and upcoming global events aim to help practitioners keep track of the events that are likely to have an impact on digital policy in one way or another. These aims are achieved by analysing and providing context to the large amount of developments that take place every month. The newsletter is in line with the GIP and Diplo’s mission to build capacity among stakeholders, especially those who are unrepresented or have limited resources.

The newsletter is published every last day of the month, and complements the GIP Digital Watch observatory and the monthly GIP briefings on Internet governance. We invite you to subscribe to the GIP News mailing list to receive notifications about new issues of the newsletter, and to get in touch if you are interested in developing a regional version.


What’s next?

Diplo has been providing online and blended courses, policy research, policy immersion and community support in Internet governance and digital policy for many years. Learn more about our philosophy and approach. We also invite you to engage in IG discussions, join us for training, research, and other activities, and meet other professionals working in IG:

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Namibia’s Digital Foreign Policy and Diplomacy (Briefing Paper #3)

This briefing paper emerged from Diplo's participation in Namibia's Foreign Policy Review Conference (July 2016). In this paper, Dr Katharina E. Höne suggests a three-pronged approach to Namibia's digital foreign policy and diplomacy, and looks at the discourse on inf... Read more...


Searching for Meaningful Human Control. The April 2018 Meeting on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (Briefing Paper #10)

In this briefing paper, Ms Barbara Rosen Jacobson analyses the debate of the April 2018 meeting of the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW). The group was established to discuss emerging technologies in the area of... Read more...