Open letter by APC to the organisers of the International Conference on Global Internet Governance


For the attention of:

Paulo Bernardo Silva, Minister of Communications
Virgilio de Almeida, Secretary for Information Technology Policy, MCTI
Valdir Simão, Presidencia
Benedicto Fonseca, Director of the Department of Scientific and Technological Themes, MRE
Harmut Glaser,

Open letter by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) to the organisers of the International Conference on Global Internet Governance

Following the revelations about mass surveillance and data collection by the US National Security Agency (NSA), the debate over the legitimacy of the role of governments and internet businesses in the internet governance ecosystem has reached a critical point. The APC welcomes the initiative by the Brazilian government to convene a global meeting in 2014 to address current internet governance public policy challenges and issues.

Since its formation in 1990 (with Brazilian NGO, IBASE, as one of its founding members) the APC network and its members have been committed to achieving universal and affordable access to a free and open internet. As an NGO with consultative status with UN ECOSOC, APC participated actively in the WSIS and IGF processes, driven by the conviction that the internet is a global public good and a vital enabler of social justice, gender equality and human rights.

APC’s view is that multi-stakeholder participation in internet governance is not an end in itself, it is a means to achieve the goal of inclusive democratic internet governance that enables the internet to be a force, to quote from the Geneva Declaration, for “the attainment of a more peaceful, just and prosperous world.” (paragraph 2). [1]

APC sees the proposed meeting in Brazil as an opportunity to:

  • Reinforce and strengthen efforts to improve and democratise the governance of the internet;
  • Help restore trust in the internet governance ecosystem; and,
  • Generate concrete and actionable outputs to address specific internet governance challenges which can then be further discussed at global and regional IGFs and at WSIS+10 meetings in the course of 2014.

APC is aligned with the goal of the meeting “…to build international governance that can above all ensure individual freedom and protect human rights in order to fully use the new media with the internet as its centerpiece”, as stated by Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Luiz Alberto Figueiredo on November 18th during the formal announcement of the International Conference on Global Internet Governance. [2] Regarding the process, APC suggests that:

  • Transparent, open, inclusive and participatory mechanisms are established for the involvement of all stakeholders, particularly civil society, in the planning and organisation of the summit. These mechanisms must enable the full participation of civil society in decision-making on all aspects of the preparatory process: agenda setting, format, and selection of participants for the event.
  • The organisers make use of online preparatory mechanisms similar to those successfully employed in Brazil for the drafting of the “Marco Civil” where all submissions were made using an open, public and transparent platform.
  • All stakeholders, including governments, commit to participation in the online preparatory consultation processes.
  • The meeting be open to all interested stakeholders. Selection processes for participants should be fair and transparent and ensure both diversity, as well as expertise. Preference should be given to people or institutions who participate actively in online preparatory processes. This should be the case for all the stakeholders, including governments. The more prepared and informed the participants in the event, the more likely that it can achieve concrete outcomes.
  • Drafting groups responsible for capturing outputs should be appointed prior to the event, and include representatives from all stakeholder groups.
  • All involved stakeholders should agree on a decision-making procedure whereby goals of the meeting can be achieved.

In relation to the agenda, APC proposes that to ensure that the meeting produces concrete outcomes it focuses on two main areas:

1. Internationalisation of ICANN and IANA. This discussion can consider inputs from the ICANN Accountability and Transparency Review Team process and, where relevant, the CSTD Working Group on Enhanced Cooperation. Prior to the meeting, an invitation should be issued to request specific proposals for the full internationalisation of these institutions. Relevant resource people with expertise in international law and institutional frameworks should be present at the meeting.

2. An international set of principles (or a civil framework) for internet policy making that are fully harmonised with existing human rights agreements.

In closing, we want to urge the organisers to consider the importance of reinforcing the United Nations’ Internet Governance Forum process (IGF). The IGF needs to be strengthened and improved. Most of these improvements have been identified in the report of the CSTD Working Group on IGF Improvements. Many of these improvements relate to increasing developing country participation.

We believe that the proposed conference in Brazil in 2014 can contribute to strengthening the IGF, and its important relationship with other UN processes only if it states and maintains its commitment to link to the IGF process from the outset. Failure to do this could risk fragmenting the still fragile but emerging process of consolidating an inclusive, participative and democratic internet governance ecosystem.

In closing, we declare our strong support for your endeavour. We will do our best to contribute to its success.

Your sincerely

Anriette Esterhuysen
APC Executive Director

[1] From APC’s submission ot the CSTD Working Group on Enhanced Cooperation, August 2013.

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