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IGF 2014 – DAY 0: Warming up for official IGF start tomorrow

Day 0 has been the unofficial start of IGF; a warm-up for the staff managing all the logistics, for the speakers and session participants to get a first glimpse on how discussions may evolve, and for attendees to find their way around all meeting rooms without spending too much time… Well, not really, a lot more than just warming-up has taken place, but most interesting discussions will start tomorrow onwards.

 

Though there were some other panels, I will focus on the Net mundial: Looking back, learning lessons and Mapping the Road Ahead session. Many known faces in the Internet Governance arena around: Anriette Esterhuysen (APC), Virgílio Almeida (NETmundial chairman), Kathryn Brown  and Raul Echeberría (ISOC), Marilia Maciel (Center for Technology and Society of the Getulio Vargas Foundation), Jeanette Hofmann (HLMC), Alan Marcus (WEF), Fadi Chehade (ICANN), Janis Karklins (Ambassador of Latvia) and many more.

 

The session, as the title rightly states, has been a review of the Net mundial meeting, that took place already four months ago, in April 2014. These are a few comments I would like to recall from the whole day:

 

  • Netmundial  has been the first time where an outcome has been produced without negotiation mechanism in an international, multistakeholder, bottom-up process. And it was possible because the meeting tried to find common ground avoiding to provide the different views and perspectives of the multiple stakeholders.
  • The basic Internet Governance Principles, included in the NETmundial  multistakeholder  Statement provide no mechanism to bring wrongdoer to Internet court but does allow “naming and shaming” if government or corporation behave badly in cyberspace.
  • In 90s the Viena UN conference produced the declaration of Human Rights: though many stakeholders were not fully satisfied with the conferred when leaving it, time has proven the conference was a great success. Not everybody was satisfied with Netmundial, but outcome got global/rough consensus, so that is why it is so relevant.
  • The founding of the Internet Governance Forum Support Association was announced. In fact, it was officially launched today while the Netmundial session was taking place. The association will provide funding for IGF by contributing to the United Nations IGF Trust Fund and support activities such as Internet governance-related capacity building in developing countries, national and regional IGF initiatives, and fellowships for participation in IGF meetings at national, regional and global levels.
  • ICANN is the major and most relevant single private funding entity for IGF: up to 50 people are attending 2014 IGF at Istambul thanks to ICANN funding. ICANN clearly supports and will continue to support IGF. But, in order to comply with NetMundial basic Internet Governance principle stating Internet Governance is to be carried out through a distributed decentralized and multistakeholder ecosystem, ICANN will welcome and support any new Internet Governance processes, including the new ISOC foundation to support IGF, so that no single organization controls Internet. A clear reference to the Netmundial initiative led by WEF?
  • Netmundial Initiative seemed not to be warmly welcomed by some Civil Society participant as its foundation was perceived not to be fully inclusive, nor transparent or as open as the Netmundial principles encourage. Nevertheless, some voices proposed to give the Initiative a six months grace period to see how it evolves.
  • Civil Society has just announced an initiative to formally request UN Secretary to consider renewing IGF’ mandate on a permanent basis. This approach might be interpreted as a move to protect IGF so that it is not replaced by recently announced initiatives.

 

The session included the presentation and launch of the bookBeyond Netmundial: The roadmap for institutional improvements to the Global Internet Governance Ecosystem”, where an overview of the book was given.  The book is a collection of essays prepared to assist and support the community that has prepared the 2014 Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Istanbul. One of its findings is MAG does not see itself as a committee to drive changes on the IGF and its objectives, but rather as a quite large committee -it counts with up to 50 commissioners- to prepare and organize IGF annual meetings; as such, It is proposed the setting up of a new committee, a smaller one I would guess, to review and propose changes at IGF.

 

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Chema Alonso

Chief Data Officer, Telefonica.