The week included the WSIS action lines Forum, open consultation for the preparations of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) and meetings of the IGF multistakeholder advisory group (MAG) as well as a consultation on ‘enhanced cooperation’ convened by the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD). All of these dialogues are important to the success of the WSIS and its outcome.
WSIS action lines Forum
Organized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the United Nations Conference of Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the WSIS action lines Forum 2012 gathered representatives of governments, civil society, business and the Internet technical community to share experiences regarding initiatives and concrete projects that are helping countries more effectively harness the power of information and communication technology (ICTs) for the common global good.
“The tangible impact of ICTs on economic growth and opportunity is a shared objective,” said John Davies, Vice-President of Sales and Marketing Group, General Manager of World Ahead, Intel Corporation and ICC BASIS member, in the ICC BASIS remarks contributed to the opening day. “Simply put, countries with effective ICT policies tend to have higher productivity and countries with ineffective ICT policies tend to have lower productivity.”
“Achieving the action lines determined in WSIS Geneva 2003 and Tunis 2005 requires cooperation and dialogue between policymakers, business and other relevant stakeholders in order to put in place the necessary policy, legal and regulatory conditions that promote investment in ICTs and the Internet,” Mr Davies added.
IGF preparations: calls for greater diversity
Jeff Brueggeman, Vice-President and Public Policy and deputy Chief Privacy Officer, AT&T, and Ayesha Hassan, Senior Policy Manager, Digital Economy, Executive in charge of ICT Policy, ICC, intervened in the preparations for 7th Internet Governance Forum (IGF) – an open forum for policy dialogue on issues of Internet governance taking place in Baku, Azerbaijan from 6-9 November 2012.
Both stressed the need for greater diversity in terms of geography and stakeholders in the workshops under review for selection in this year’s IGF.
Ms Hassan, in particular, addressed an identified lack of business experts and offered BASIS’ help to identify business experts who could provide necessary business experience, while Mr Brueggeman said: “Focusing on the diversity and participation is a safer area to be judging on as opposed to specific content or the perceived value of the workshops.”
The IGF was established by the Tunis Agenda in 2005 to provide a unique opportunity each year for all relevant stakeholders to discuss Internet governance issues on an equal footing in order to facilitate the exchange of information and best practices on policy issues that contribute to the sustainability, stability and robustness of the Internet – and the IGF meetings last week are an important part of the preparatory process. The IGF itself has been successful in many ways, including by catalyzing partnerships, projects and cooperations that have benefitted all stakeholders. As part of the MAG, the special 50-member advisory group to the UN Secretary General regarding the programme of these meetings, ICC BASIS members ensured that the expertise and experience of the private sector benefitted the discussions.
ICC BASIS leaders and members will also be actively participating at the next IGF by leading and coordinating global business contributions and organizing workshops to help highlight the essential role of the private sector in continued Internet development.
Enhanced cooperation: Better assessment, greater inclusiveness
Ms Hassan also helped conclude the week by participating in a consultation on ‘enhanced cooperation’ convened by the UN CSTD along with several ICC BASIS members.
Keeping in mind the evolution in the Internet and the Internet governance landscape since Tunis 2006, Ms Hassan stressed that with respect to enhanced cooperation “our common goal should be to further assessment of the many examples of enhanced cooperation that are on-going and to identify challenges that remain, all while bearing in mind the multistakeholder word and spirit of the Tunis agenda – and the role of all stakeholders woven into all aspects of it.”
“Indeed, the evolutions since 2006 and the first IGF meeting underscore the critical role of cooperation between stakeholders to accomplish the goals set in WSIS 2003 and 2006,” she added.
Ms Hassan further emphasized the need for a comprehensive understanding and assessment of the dialogues on Internet policy in other forums to avoid unnecessary duplications.
In order for enhanced cooperation to continue to move forward, Ms Hassan stressed that:
• The goal should be to get more stakeholders to participate in the existing Internet technical organizations.
• Internet policy-related and decision-making activities should be more open and inclusive, because governments, and regional and international organizations that have been more open, and that have shown a commitment to enhanced cooperation, have proven to be more effective.
• The Internet technical community needs to be recognized as an essential stakeholder, along with governments, business and civil society, for entities that may be affected by the decisions need to be able to participate in the development and implementation of those decisions if enhanced cooperation is to remain committed to openness, inclusiveness, and outreach.
“It is also very important to remain sensitive to the limited time, human and financial resources of all stakeholders, and to build forward instead of moving backwards,” Ms Hassan added.