An open consultation to discuss the agenda of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Vilnius was held in Geneva, Switzerland on February 9, 2010. During the consultation, a discussion on the desirability of the continuation of the IGF was introduced by Patrick Spearing from the United Nations Department of Economics and Social Affairs (UNDESA). UNDESA is the Secretariat department having responsibility for the report containing the recommendations of the Secretary-General on the desirability of continuation of the forum.
Mr Spearing recalled that "the forum was established by an UN General Assembly decision on the basis of the Tunis Agenda," and that "it will be the United Nations membership that determines whether or not to support its continuation." Mr Spearing further stressed that, "in order for the General Assembly to consider the recommendations of the Secretary-General, the report of the Secretary-General containing those recommendations must be submitted to the UN General Assembly at the 65th session later in 2010." Mr. Spearing also noted that the United Nations Economic and Social Council "has primary responsibility for relations among development actors and has a mechanism for consultation with nongovernmental organizations."
Prof. Wolfgang Kleinwächter criticized the decision to hold consultations through UN Economic and Social Council rather than the UN Commission on Science and Technology. "The decision's aims is to get the Internet policy processes back under control of an intergovernmental regime and to silence non-governmental stakeholders, at least if it comes to public policy issues and decision making." Prof. Kleinwächter further stressed, "this is part of a bigger story to move backwards, to cancel openness, transparency and bottom up policy development process and to withdraw from the principle of "multistakeholderism." "This recognition of the principle of "multistakeholderism" in the Tunis Agenda 2005 was the biggest conceptual achievement in WSIS and was in particular accepted as a guiding principle for Internet Governance in contrast to a "one stakeholder (intergovernmental) approach," Prof. Kleinwächter added. The acceptance of civil society as an "equal partner" (in their specific role) was a big step for civil society, Prof. Kleinwächter emphasized.
Switzerland as the President of the UN Commission on Science and Technology (CSTD) made a point concerning the multistakeholder approach. "The United Nations Commission on Science and Technology has the advantage of taking a broader approach to the multistakeholder aspect. By that I mean, that the CSTD also provides for consultations with the private sector, which UN Economic and Social Council does not do. And also with a broader view of consultations with civil society."
Later in 2010, the United Nations General Assembly will decide if it should extend the Internet Governance Forum's initial five-year mandate, based on a review of its work as well as its achievements.
This is a listing of events which may be useful for civil society to participate, connect and network on issues relating to information and communication technologies and policies.
The Public Voice
Punta del Este
October 22, 2012
Lillie Coney, Chair
EPIC Associate Director
The Public Voice
October 25, 2010
Sharm El Sheikh - Egypt. United Nations. IV Internet Governance Forum November 15-18, 2009
Participation in the World Summit on the Information Society Internet Governance Caucus »
The Public Voice
September 24, 2012