SOurce – ITU:
Significant progress on key issues of Internet Governance
ITU Conference gathers stakeholders from government, industry and civil society to debate international Internet public policy-related issues
Geneva, 16 May 2013 – “This year’s WTPF, with its focus on international Internet-related public policy matters, is especially timely – as we stand at a ‘tipping point’, with the Internet making the transition from a mass-market in industrialized countries, to strong demand and widespread usage around the world”, said Dr Touré, as the ITU’s fifth World Telecommunication Policy Forum concluded in Geneva today.
Dr Touré went on to say that “at WTPF, we have created a shared vision; a shared vision that can now be transformed into effective action to bring connectivity to the two-thirds of the world’s people who are still offline – and that is our bottom line, connecting the unconnected and achieving full digital inclusion for all citizens of the world.”
The WTPF was chaired by Mr. Ivo Ivanovski, Minister of Information Society and Administration, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, who was supported in his task by six vice-chairs. “The WTPF came hot on the heels of the difficult discussions in Dubai last December during the revision of the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs) treaty” said Mr. Ivanovski, “so it is all the more remarkable to have witnessed such an incredible and constructive spirit of cooperation and consensus. Representatives from governments, private sector and civil society have worked side-by-side, understanding what was at stake and fully focused on our common goal – nothing less than the responsibility to ensure safe and affordable access for everyone to the future Internet.”
This year’s Forum focused on the topic of Internet-related public policy issues, a theme unanimously chosen by the ITU membership at its last Plenipotentiary Conference in 2010. The Plenipotentiary is the main governance body of the ITU and meets every four years. The run-up to the WTPF included three preparatory meetings of the Informal Experts Group – a cross-sectoral, multistakeholder group, comprising some 180 experts, which advised the Forum and supported the drafting of the Secretary-General’s Report which was the main input document to the conference.
This report contained six Opinions – essentially, non-binding recommendations to guide Internet public policy – which were discussed at length and finalized in working groups and during the Plenary Sessions this week.
The Opinions cover some of the key and fundamental issues of Internet Governance today, including:
Promoting Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) as a long term solution to advance connectivity
Fostering an enabling environment for the greater growth and development of broadband connectivity
Supporting Capacity Building for the deployment of IPv6
Supporting IPv6 Adoption and Transition from IPv4
Supporting Multi-stakeholderism in Internet Governance
Supporting operationalizing the Enhanced Cooperation Process
The conference was set up into three working groups, each dealing with two opinions. Opinions one to four were finalized and endorsed ahead of time. Opinions five and six required more in-depth discussion however, particularly around the role of government in Internet governance issues. The necessity to include government is not contested by any stakeholders, but the extent of their role and responsibility opened up extensive discussions focusing on the need to balance the mitigation of risks while maximizing the undoubted opportunities provided by an open Internet.
In the end, in the words of one delegation, “perfect cannot not be the enemy of good” and it was agreed unanimously that the texts should be fully adopted and considered as important progress towards defining an efficient Internet governance system to manage the incredible global resource which the Internet has now become. An additional contribution on the role of government in the multi-stakeholder model proposed by Brazil and revised after consultation with a number of countries, received widespread support and though it was not endorsed, it was agreed that it merited further discussion beyond WTPF.
The WTPF gathered more than 900 participants together in Geneva from some 130 countries, while over 3000 people participated remotely via webcast. All sessions, including the WTPF working groups, were webcast. There was active participation during the conference, which welcomed contributions from the floor from governments, industry and civil society representatives encompassing both members and non-members of the ITU itself.
Reflecting back on the week’s work and looking forward to future challenges, Dr Touré said, “It is so impressive to see all stakeholders coming together and working in such a positive spirit of collaboration. I am proud that ITU is playing its part to champion multistakeholderism and to use its convening power to facilitate constructive dialogue. We have achieved a lot together this week and we are excited about what this will mean in terms of concrete, positive actions over the coming years”.