IGF 2007: still a long way to effective outcome

By EDRi · November 21, 2007

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) that took place this year in Rio de
Janeiro was attended by over1300 participants from 109 countries and focused
on the following main themes – critical Internet resources, access,
diversity, openness and security. In total there were 84 events in a 4-day
time frame (12-15 November 2007) where people could participate in any
plenary sessions, workshops, best practice sessions, dynamic coalition
meetings and other related meetings.

The UN Undersecretary-General Sha Zhukang explained in the opening session
the scope of the IGF: “The United Nations does not have a role in managing
the Internet. But we do embrace the opportunity to provide, through this
forum, a platform that helps to ensure the Internet’s global reach.”

However, the still-present subject of moving ICANN out of the US influence
was brought back to the table by some participants. Russian representative
Konstantin Novoderejhkin asked the UN to start a group for moving Internet
governance “under the control of the international community.” He was backed
up by other states, including Brazilian officials who asked for an
independent ICANN.

The U.S. Representatives replied that the present arrangement prevents
“other countries from censoring Web sites by deleting entries out of domain
name directories.” Another strong supporter of the status-quo was Vincent
Cerf that explained: “ICANN has existed for eight years and done a great job
with its plans for internationalisation.” He also emphasised that the
government attempts to control the Internet will probably fail.

Other important topics were also on the agenda of the IGF. Network
neutrality was seen as an important proposal of the global public policy.
Japanese Vice Minister for Policy Coordination Kiyoshi Moric considered
network neutrality “as one of three key issues that had to be addressed.”

Amnesty International used the opportunity to renew its call to governments
and companies to make human rights central to Internet governance. Nick
Dearden, part of Amnesty International’s delegation to the IGF, explained:
“In the 12 months since the last IGF we’ve witnessed the crisis in Burma,
where the Internet was used to get images and information out of the country
and to mobilize people all over the world to take action. On the other hand
we have also monitored the increase in censorship, filtering and blocking of

IP Justice identified in their public report of the IGF 2007 three major
areas where this year Forum has proved to be useful: high
quality of the workshops and best practice sessions, world-class technical
capabilities and remote participation opportunities and offline interactions
& networking opportunities. But it has also highlighted other subjects that
could be improved in the next sessions such as: human rights and other
controversial topics avoided in main sessions, emphasizing lack of gender
balance and exclusion of young voices in main sessions that were dominated
by established players.

Would this be enough to make IGF more than a worldwide conference on
Internet governance? While there is still a long way to go for the
IGF making any recommendation, the Forum has been given a mandate
from the Tunis World Summit on the Information Society entailing a
number of functions that obviously cannot be effectively fulfilled by
an annual conference. This was precisely the issue discussed at a
workshop organized by the civil society Internet governance caucus on
“fulfilling the mandate of the IGF”. One simple idea came out, inter
alia, from this workshop, which is to leverage proposals issued from
workshops and other dynamic coalitions meeting, by bringing them to
wider discussion in IGF plenary sessions.

Among such outcomes worth discussing at a broader level, one could be
the joint proposal from the Council of Europe (CoE) and the
Association for Progressive Communications (APC) to set up a
“mechanism to foster participation, access to information and
transparency in Internet governance”. As explained by CoE and APC,
“the mechanism should ensure that all the institutions which play a
role in some aspect of governing the internet commit to transparency,
public participation, including participation of all stakeholders,
and access to information in their activities”. CoE and APC propose
to consider, as a prototype to such a mechanism, the United Nations
Economic Commission for Europe’s Aarhus Convention on Access to
Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to
Justice in Environmental Matter.

The next year Internet Governance Forum will take place in New Delhi, India
and is scheduled for 8-11 December 2008.

Internet Governance Forum (IGF)

Second Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) – Chairman’s Summary

IP Justice Report on 2007 Internet Governance Forum (IGF) (19.11.2007)

IP Justice Report on 2007 Internet Governance Forum (IGF)

U.S. Control Of Internet Still A Concern (16.11.2007)

Internet Governance Forum: Test Of A New Global Governance Model

Rio IGF 2008: Amnesty renews its call on governments and companies to make
human rights central to Internet governance (16.11.2007)

CoE-APC joint press release (13.11.2007)

EDRI-gram: ENDitorial : IGF – UN innovation or just another conference ?