6.2.3. Development

A number of paragraphs of the IGF’s mandate in the Tunis Agenda require the IGF to directly engage in the promotion of development objectives such as capacity building. Thus it will be recalled that the IGF is directed to “[f]acilitate the exchange of information and best practices,” to “[a]dvise all stakeholders in proposing ways and means to accelerate the availability and affordability of the Internet in the developing world,” to strengthen the engagement of stakeholders particularly from developing countries “in existing and/or future Internet governance mechanisms,” and to “[c]ontribute to capacity building for Internet governance in developing countries.”[1]

The inclusion of these paragraphs on development in the IGF’s mandate may be largely attributed to the forum’s origin in WSIS, a summit which by the nature of its consensual process was strongly influenced by developing country interests.[2] What is most notable about these paragraphs is that unlike the balance of the IGF’s mandate which requires it to perform the Internet governance functions of policy-setting and coordination across a range of substantive Internet governance issues, they entreat the IGF to address particular development-related Internet governance issues such as capacity building itself. In fact, only one of the development-related paragraphs in the IGF’s mandate requires it to engage in any of the governance roles recognised in this chapter; namely the call to “strengthen and enhance the engagement of stakeholders in existing and/or future Internet governance mechanisms,”[3] which can be regarded as a coordination role.

Although these paragraphs do not specify roles of governance for the IGF to undertake in the procedural sense used in this chapter, this does not mean that they are not still appropriate functions for a democratic governance network to address. After all, the programme of substantive democracy is to ensure that all have an equal opportunity as well as an equal right to participate in governance, and it has already been noted the digital divide is one of the most significant impediments to this objective for the Internet governance regime.[4]

The inclusion of a development programme within the IGF’s mandate also puts it in good company with other of the exemplar organisations, namely the GKP, GAID and UNICTTF, all of which are also linked with the WSIS process, and also with ISOC whose motto is “The Internet is for Everyone.”

Even so, it is perhaps unfortunate that this programme, as important as it is to the development of a democratic transnational Internet governance regime, should be intermingled with the quite distinct procedural governance roles assigned to the IGF in the balance of its mandate, particularly since there are many other specific issues that are of equal importance to the development of a substantively democratic Internet governance regime, which the mandate omits to include.[5]

As the focus of this thesis is on procedural rather than substantive issues, no further attention will specifically be given to the operational roles in the IGF’s mandate, which include those relating to development noted above, and also the mandate to “[h]elp to find solutions to the issues arising from the use and misuse of the Internet, of particular concern to everyday users.”[6] The analysis that follows as to the effectiveness of the IGF’s structure and processes to fulfil its mandate should therefore be understood as being subject to this limitation.

Notes

[1]

WSIS, Tunis Agenda for the Information Society (2005), paras 72(d), (e), (f) and (h)

[2]

See Section 5.1.

[3]

WSIS, Tunis Agenda for the Information Society (2005), paras 72(f)

[4]

See Section 4.3.5.2 and Section 4.3.1.3.

[5]

The most obvious example is the importance of upholding human rights, as appears to have been acknowledged by both the CS-IGC and A2K@IGF when they proposed during the May 2007 open consultations that human rights should join capacity building as a “cross-cutting priority” for the IGF (though this was blocked by China during the following meeting of the former Advisory Group).

[6]

WSIS, Tunis Agenda for the Information Society (2005), para 72(k)