ICC BASIS intervention, Ayesha Hassan, ICC Open Consultation-Internet Governance Forum

  • 26 February 2008

On behalf of the International Chamber of Commerce and members of its initiatives Business Action to Support the Information Society, I would like to join others in thanking the host country of Brazil as well as all the organizers involved in the IGF in Rio.

On behalf of the International Chamber of Commerce and members of its initiatives Business Action to Support the Information Society, I would like to join others in thanking the host country of Brazil as well as all the organizers involved in the IGF in Rio.

ICC-Basis members believe that the IGF in Rio built upon the success in Athens in 2006 and provided an open and informative forum among all stakeholders. We believe that continued multistakeholder participation on an equal footing in all aspects of the IGF is essential to its future success.

I don’t want to go through the nine pages of very detailed input that the ICC/BASIS members have contributed. It is on the ICC/BASIS Web site as well as the IGF Web site and in the back of the room. I would just like to respond to your question and also highlight a few of our points in terms of improvements as we all look forward to the IGF in India later this year.
On the main sessions, ICC/BASIS supports the continued inclusion of main sessions but encourages an involved format that would make the discussions more meaningful. Many people who were involved in the Rio main sessions came away with, perhaps, less than they could and in building towards India, thinking about the format of the main sessions to ensure that there is more attendance is important. Consideration of having fewer or no parallel events to make the main sessions more of a focal point in the schedule, to focus the discussions in the main sessions on specific topics within the broad themes that have been put forward, to ensure that a range of viewpoints on those specific topics are brought out in the main session discussions and that there is more interaction.

We’ve expressed in our contribution that the emerging issue session worked very well in Rio and encouraging more in-depth discussion on specific issues allows people to make a connection to workshop topics that have been explored and to get detailed input and interaction with the audience. This should be a part of the consideration of how the main sessions are formatted going forward. In addition, we’ve suggested that descriptions of the main session should be simplified and confirmed information about the main sessions should be made available earlier.

Overall, shaping the program earlier will help to increase the value-add for participants of the main sessions. In general, ICC/BASIS members would encourage the planning for the IGF in India to really look at the topic areas in both the main sessions and the workshops to ensure that these sessions really add value for people who are there. In that respect, we do support a focus at the IGF in India on the capacity-building cross-cutting theme, focusing on the development agenda issues and human and institutional capacity-building measures.

In terms of the workshops, there were several formats for workshops and open forums and best practice sessions, et cetera. I would highlight a few points. We believe that the best practices, or practices in general, are an extremely important part of what participants take away from the IGF and would encourage practices to be a part of the discussions in the main sessions and the workshops and integrated on the issues.

To pick up on what a few of the other speakers have mentioned about workshops, we did feel that there were too many competing events, whether they were workshops or open forums or best practice sessions or meetings, et cetera and an overall look at the program to ensure that there is real networking time is essential: Many of our members have felt that the take-away for them has been the informal interactions that have led to very concrete initiatives or partnerships or discussions after the IGF. We’ve made a couple of specific suggestions in our contribution.

For instance, keeping the lunchtime free to facilitate that kind of action and create opportunities for people to meet each other. As others have said, the IGF is a unique space where many people who never see each other in other forums get an opportunity to interact in a very important exchange of information and experience which we believe should be continued priority in the planning of the IGF in India. We’ve given specific comments on the dynamic coalitions and the reporting sessions. I would really not like to go through all the bullet points at this stage, but I would ask that Advisory Group members and participants note those suggestions and consider them as ways to address some of the improvements that many have stated need to be considered for the IGF going forward. For the IGF in India, we have put forward the idea which is reflected and echoed in the input from other stakeholders as well in ensuring that we valorize the take-aways that people really are getting from the IGF.

One of those is that there are many partnerships and alliances that could be showcased at the IGF in India, perhaps having a session to allow people to announce their commitments and the actual outcomes they’re feeling at the national or regional level on these issues would be helpful. And, lastly, I wanted to highlight the fact that we’ve put forward the fact that innovation is a very important area and we would consider a session or a stream of discussion on how to promote innovation as being a complement to the development agenda issues that others have also emphasized and a way to allow participants to have, again, a discussion on practices, the challenges faced on Internet Governance issues to continue to promote innovation in this area.

With that, I will close. Thank you, chair.