5.2. IGF

The Internet Governance Forum’s mandate is as set out in paragraph 72 of the Tunis Agenda, which provides:

We ask the UN Secretary-General, in an open and inclusive process, to convene, by the second quarter of 2006, a meeting of the new forum for multi-stakeholder policy dialogue—called the Internet Governance Forum (IGF). The mandate of the Forum is to:

  1. Discuss public policy issues related to key elements of Internet governance in order to foster the sustainability, robustness, security, stability and development of the Internet;

  2. Facilitate discourse between bodies dealing with different cross-cutting international public policies regarding the Internet and discuss issues that do not fall within the scope of any existing body;

  3. Interface with appropriate inter-governmental organizations and other institutions on matters under their purview;

  4. Facilitate the exchange of information and best practices, and in this regard make full use of the expertise of the academic, scientific and technical communities;

  5. Advise all stakeholders in proposing ways and means to accelerate the availability and affordability of the Internet in the developing world;

  6. Strengthen and enhance the engagement of stakeholders in existing and/or future Internet governance mechanisms, particularly those from developing countries;

  7. Identify emerging issues, bring them to the attention of the relevant bodies and the general public, and, where appropriate, make recommendations;

  8. Contribute to capacity building for Internet governance in developing countries, drawing fully on local sources of knowledge and expertise;

  9. Promote and assess, on an ongoing basis, the embodiment of WSIS principles in Internet governance processes;

  10. Discuss, inter alia, issues relating to critical Internet resources;

  11. Help to find solutions to the issues arising from the use and misuse of the Internet, of particular concern to everyday users;

  12. Publish its proceedings.

This is an expansion of WGIG’s suggestions as to the content of the IGF’s mandate, which contained six points.[1]

Subparagraph (c) above was derived from the first point in the WGIG list, but omitted the qualifying words, “which are relevant to Internet governance, such as IPR, ecommerce, trade in services and Internet/telecommunications convergence.” Although not a substantive change on its face, this amendment reflected the exclusion of IPR and trade issues altogether from the Tunis Agenda by governments wishing for those issues to be reserved to WIPO and the WTO.[2]

The second point in the WGIG list became subparagraph (g), but in this case with two additions: the words “and the general public” after “appropriate bodies” (which adds a measure of transparency to its mandate), but also the proviso that it would only make recommendations “where appropriate” (which arguably narrows the scope of the IGF’s mandate to make recommendations).

The substance of the third and fourth points in the WGIG list can be found in subparagraph (b) above, but in weakened form: the forum is only to “discuss” rather than to “address” issues not being dealt with elsewhere, and there is no longer any reference to it making proposals for action. It is therefore arguable that the IGF has no mandate to make recommendations for action in respect of issues that are not being dealt with elsewhere, unless they also fall within another head of its mandate (for example, because the issues are “emerging”).[3]

The fifth and sixth points of the WGIG list are the only ones to be reproduced verbatim in the Tunis Agenda, at subparagraphs (h) and (i). This leaves subparagraphs (a), (d), (e), (f), (j), (k) and (l) as new additions to the IGF’s mandate in the Agenda.

The IGF’s mandate is to be reviewed by the UN Secretary-General pursuant to the Tunis Agenda in 2011. Thus, there may be only five meetings of the IGF. The choice of Athens as a venue for the first meeting was made in accepting an offer of the Greek government made at WSIS. The offers of the Brazilian, Indian and Egyptian governments made respectively at public consultations in February and May and at the Athens meeting to host the second, third and fourth meetings were accepted by the IGF Secretariat without public consultation. The possibly final meeting, to be held in 2010, was the subject of competing bids from both Lithuania and Azerbaijan in Athens.

Notes

[1]

See Section 5.1.3.3.

[2]

Accuosto, Pablo, WSIS Wraps Up With Mixed Emotions (2005)

[3]

See Section 6.2.1.1.