5.3. Regional initiatives

Having surveyed the reforms to the regime of Internet governance wrought by WSIS and the IGF, it still remains in this chapter to touch on a couple of the most significant regional and sub-regional multi-stakeholder initiatives that have accompanied those larger reforms.

Since the main concern of this thesis is international and transnational governance, only a cursory survey of regional developments will be given, but they cannot be overlooked altogether. For one thing, international and regional cooperation was the final key principle for building an inclusive Information Society specified in the WSIS Declaration of Principles, and also the subject of a key recommendation in the WGIG report.[1] In the Asia-Pacific region, an Open Regional Dialogue on Internet Governance (ORDIG) took place during 2004 and 2005 as a project of UNDP’s Asia-Pacific Development Information Programme (UNDP-APDIP) to feed into the WGIG and the broader WSIS processes.[2]

Although not specifically contained in the IGF’s mandate, IGF participants have also long called for the development of supportive regional processes. At the first open consultation in February 2006, Morocco and the Dominican Republic were amongst those recommending the initiation of regional IGF events. Nitin Desai summed up these calls in saying:

I think one aspect of it which may require a little advanced work is a message I have heard very strongly from many people here, and that is the need for some type of regional process to contribute to this. And that’s not something which can be done at the last minute. You can’t just say suddenly, you know, three months or four months before, “Oh, please get off the ground.” So ... I would suggest, to the UN that they may wish to get in touch with the regional commissions to see how, within the resources that the regional commissions have, they could start thinking about what sort of regional contribution they could make to this process.

However aside from the appointment of designated “regional coordinators” to the Advisory Group, any further regional programmes were left to emerge through bottom–up coordination.

This occurred only to a very limited degree ahead of the Athens meeting; mainly through limited public consultation processes conducted by delegations attending the WSIS summit[3] and the IGF.[4]

A few new regional programmes were announced between the Athens and Rio meetings. First came the launch of Nominet’s Best Practice Challenge, which invited UK civil society and the private sector to nominate themselves as demonstrating best practice in the categories of openness, security, access or diversity, with selected nominees to be showcased in Rio.[5] There were also two preparatory seminars held in Brazil during July and September 2007 by CGI.br,[6] and one in Tokyo organised by Nippon Keidanren in May.[7] Finally a one-day Dialogue Forum on Internet Rights was hosted by the Italian government in Rome in September.[8]

Following the Rio meeting, a so-called United Kingdom Internet Governance Forum was held in March 2008, though in fact it was simply a two-hour seminar.[9] Finally in January 2008 the European Parliament passed a resolution to encourage “the organisation of a ‘European IGF’ before mid-2009 to reinforce the European dimension of the whole IGF/WSIS process.”[10]

Notes

[1]

WGIG, Report of the Working Group on Internet Governance (2005), 16

[2]

See http://www.apdip.net/projects/igov/ and Butt, Danny, The Open Regional Dialogue on Internet Governance (2005).

[3]

Such as that of Australia’s DCITA in August 2005: DCITA, World Summit on the Information Society and Internet Governance Public Forums (2005).

[4]

Such as that of the United Kingdom’s Department of Trade and Industry in January 2006: Department of Trade & Industry, Points Raised at the Internet Governance Forum Consultation Meeting (2006).

[5]

See http://www.nominet.org.uk/about/bestpracticechallenge/.

[6]

See http://www.nupef.org.br/atividade_IGF_seminarios_pre1.htm and http://www.nupef.org.br/atividade_IGF_reuniao_2.htm.

[7]

See http://www.iccwbo.org/policy/law/iccbdeda/index.html.

[8]

See http://www.dfiritaly2007.it/.

[9]

See Dutton, William H, UK’s Internet Governance Forum: Civil Society Needs to Get On-board (2008)

[10]

European Parliament, European Parliament Resolution on the Second Internet Governance Forum, held in Rio de Janeiro from 12 to 15 November 2007 (2008)