By Puneeth Nagaraj
The discussions on Internet Governance ended midway through the second session on day 2 with the perception that there is broad support for most issues. The length of the IGF extension remains a sticking point with proposals for 5,10 and 15 year extensions being suggested. The call for an international legal framework for internet governance (IG) has also attracted much debate. There has been a lot of discussion on Enhanced Cooperation with a lack of clarity on the G-77 proposal for Enhanced Cooperation.
Below is a summary of the major proposals:
South Africa (on behalf of G-77 plus China): Called for an approach to IG involving respect for the multistakeholder approach and different roles and responsibilities based on the Tunis Agenda. However, they stressed the role of the State in stating that the overall authority on internet related issues must remain with sovereign powers. South Africa also expressed, called for governance mechanisms to add impetus towards ideal ICT framework, based on agreed set of ethics. They also stated that the Tunis Agenda defines the roles of government and non-government stakeholders and that this is a good framework to review the roles of various stakeholders with. They raised the issue of unequal capacities of governments to deal with international public policy issues and that this issue has to be addressed in discussions on Enhanced Cooperation through Para 67 of the Tunis Agenda.
European Union: The EU stated that IG should follow multistakeholder principles as agreed in Tunis and Geneva. Such a framework should be open, inclusive, transparent. They stated that the outcome document can call for more open and inclusive IG for greater participation from developing countries. Responding to South Africa and the G-77, they stated that all stakeholders have roles to play in the information society, no one can achieve the aims of WSIS in isolation. This they said would require open and inclusive decision making with strong cooperation between stakeholders. The EU described Enhanced cooperation as an ongoing process and that it can never be completed or be fully implemented. They also described Enhanced Cooperation as a multistakeholder process.
They opposed an international legal framework on IG as stated in Para 36 of the IG and called for a 10 year extension to the IGF. Their positions were broadly supported by the UK, Netherlands and Germany in the session. On the extension of the IGF and opposition to the International Legal Framework was supported in addition by the US, Japan, Canada and Australia.
United States: The US stated that IG should not have goals of its own, as per Tunis Agenda and is neither an end nor means by which ends are pursued. But that it is a manner in which processes are is practiced. The US stated that WSIS goals are not goals of IG, but goals for IG. They also recognized the universal support for the multistakeholder approach, and called on it to be practiced internationally and domestically for tangible and meaningful outcomes. The US also called for the deletion of para 36 on an international legal framework for IG and cited the unfairness of the process of the Preparatory Meeting to other stakeholders without the opportunity to publicly advocate and defend positions. Like the EU, the US also called Enhanced Cooperation an ongoing process and that they would support more substantive participation if necessary. On the IGF, they suggested a 15 year extension later in the session to better link it with WSIS and SDG outcomes. In this proposition, they were supported by Japan.
China: Called for the IG section of the Zero Draft to be improved. They also stated that improving the IGF should entail multilateral, transparent and accountable processes which would ensure participation of all governments and stakeholders. They expressed support for maintaining a mulsitstakeholder approach within such processes within their respective roles and responsibilities. China stated that the multistakeholder approach should not be lopsided and only stress the role private sector and NGOs while marginalizing governments and governmental organizations. China also sought to emphasize governmental roles in public policy issues.
Latvia: The representative of Latvia as the former head of the Preparatory Committee for the Tunis Agenda intervened with important clarifications on the meaning of certain provisions. He stated that one cannot read Para 69 of the Tunis Agenda in isolation but must read it with Paras 70 and 71. He mentioned that in 2005 the three paras were agreed upon as a package. He noted the two different approaches to enhanced cooperation within the room viz, as purely governmental or as governmental with multistakeholder approaches. He said that which meaning was more appropriate was not clear in 2005 and is still not clear. He stated that the mapping of Intergovernmental cooperation on IG issues has been undertaken by the CSTD Working Group on Enhanced Cooperation. He also cited a number of Intergovernmental Organizations where Intergovernmental dialogue on internet related issues was already happening such as the ITU, CSTD and UNESCO. Hence, he stated that to say Enhanced Cooperation has not been launched is not accurate. He pointed out that the UN Secretary General launched it in 2006 as per the Tunis Agenda as mentioned in Zero Draft.
Puneeth Nagaraj is a Project Manager at the Centre for Communication Governance at National Law University Delhi