APC's reflections on the 2018 IGF and suggestions for 2019

Image: 2003-07 by ITU Pictures used under CC 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) (https://flic.kr/p/roiTWb) Image: 2003-07 by ITU Pictures used under CC 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) (https://flic.kr/p/roiTWb)

 

Publication date: 
January 2019
Author: 
Deborah Brown, Anriette Esterhuysen and Mehar Gujral.
Publisher: 
APC

Submission to the IGF Community Public Consultation, January 2019

About APC

The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) is an international network and non-profit organisation founded in 1990 that works to help ensure everyone has affordable access to a free and open internet to improve lives, realise human rights and create a more just world. APC has 87 members (made up of 58 organisations and 29 individuals), many of whom participate actively in the IGF process. APC itself has been an active supporter of the IGF since its inception as an outcome of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) process. The remarks below are a compilation of reflections from APC members and staff, and draw on inputs APC has previously submitted to open consultations, the IGF retreat and our submission to the United Nations High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation (HLPDC).

A) Taking Stock of 2018 programming, outputs, preparatory process, community intersessional activities and the 13th annual IGF

APC continues to see the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) – both as an annual global event and a multitude of national, regional and intersessional processes and events – as critical for bringing together key stakeholders in physical and digital spaces for policy dialogue, collaboration, coordination, capacity building and networking. We want to express our appreciation to all who made the 2018 IGF possible: the Secretariat, the Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG), the MAG chair, UNESCO, the host government (France), providers of financial support to the IGF, and all those who contributed to intersessional work, national and regional IGF initiatives (NRIs) and the annual event.

A1. What worked well?

Preparatory processes including venue, timing, logistics, participation and networking

  • The presence of a diverse set of stakeholders, from governments – in part due to the co-location with the Paris Peace Forum – and parliamentarians to technologists and activists, among others, created a valuable opportunity for learning and cross-regional and cross-sector exchanges and dialogue.

  • The large number of people who participated in the IGF for the first time was impressive.

  • Networking, meeting new people and forming new relationships, as well as connecting with existing partners, taking stock, planning further collaboration, in addition to opportunities for bilateral consultations and meetings and to meet and talk with UN actors, were all extremely valuable.

  • The UNESCO staff were very helpful and courteous, providing directions and support where needed.

  • The exhibition space worked very well and the APC booth was spacious, which allowed people to interact and helped it to double as an operation base for the teams.

  • The badging system was well organised, with the volunteers, security and staff efficient upon entry. However, accommodating people queuing in the rain would have been appreciated.

  • UNESCO’s premises provided multiple spaces for networking at IGF 2018, such as the cafeteria and a space for people who wanted to work by themselves with their laptops.

Programming, content and session

  • At a time when trust in digital technologies seems to be declining, the overall theme of IGF 2018 – “Internet of Trust” – was timely.

  • Relevant high-level policy debates took place at the IGF, with provocative speeches by President Emmanuel Macron and the UN Secretary-General.

  • The IGF was useful for discussing other timely internet governance-related developments, in particular the UN High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation (HLPDC), which used the IGF as an opportunity to engage with a range of stakeholders. The opportunity to interact with the Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace and receive updates on UNESCO’s Internet Universality Indicators was also of value.

  • APC’s Global Information Society Watch (GISWatch) book launch went very well in the large venue that was assigned to the session. Despite the lack of support from technology staff due to the timing, we appreciated the lunch hour time slot.

Community intersessional activities

  • Dynamic coalitions that worked throughout the year could use the global IGF effectively to meet, consolidate and plan ahead (but needed more time – more on this below).

  • The Dynamic Coalition on Community Connectivity (DC3) has become an active space for discussion on taking community networks to the next level because it includes so many practitioners. However, not enough of these practitioners were able to attend the global IGF itself.

  • In 2018, the IGF’s community-driven intersessional work titled “Connecting and Enabling the Next Billion(s)” in its Phase IV has showcased successful initiatives that address how the next billion people can be connected to the internet. The process aimed at investigating challenges and opportunities for addressing and overcoming barriers to meaningful internet access, promoting meaningful access in diverse contexts and regions, and ensuring that meaningful access also supports the achievement of the UN SDGs.

  • The Best Practice Forum (BPF) on cybersecurity worked in a systematic and inclusive manner and produced excellent outputs.

  • IGF 2018’s BPF on Gender and Access built on the theme from the year before, honing in on outreach that responds to the needs of underserved populations of women and gender non-binary persons. This was valuable for continuity and ensuring that the work moves forward. Contributing to this success were the efforts of the coordinator to reach out specifically to the previous years’ co-coordinators and secretariat for input.

  • In terms of the process, having the survey was useful for the Gender and Access BPF as a mechanism to get input from broader stakeholder groups, but this needed to be supplemented with desk research. Significantly, in the fourth year of the BPF on Gender and Access, and on the strength of its previous work, APC is seeing more people contacting the BPF and wanting to participate in its work. This means that effective BPF outreach requires having the capacity, and having a platform, to respond to new interest.

A2: What worked not so well?

Preparatory processes including venue, timing, logistics, participation and networking

  • Limited time: This year’s IGF was shorter than previous years, just three days long as opposed to the usual five days (Day 0 plus four days), which resulted in a limited amount of time to interact and attend various events and sessions. The lack of Day 0 and competing parallel events, such as the Paris Peace Forum and the GovTech Summit, set a busy tone for the conference, impacting the specific activities that stakeholders organised and participation around the IGF.

  • Location: 2018 was the second year in a row that the IGF was held in an expensive city in Western Europe, which impacted the ability of some stakeholders to travel from far away, especially those from countries in the global South, to attend. This will continue to be a concern as the next IGF will be in Western Europe once again, with Germany hosting.

  • Clash with ITU Plenipot: The IGF overlapped with the third and final week of the International Telecommunication Union’s Plenipotentiary Conference (ITU Plenipot) in Dubai, forcing many stakeholders of the internet governance community to decide which event to prioritise, and many were absent from the IGF.

  • The building was hard to navigate, though as mentioned above, UNESCO staff were helpful in providing directions.

  • Paris is an expensive location for many participants and not having more substantial food available during lunch increased the financial burden for many.

  • The timing of the IGF so close to the end of year, which means end-of-year reporting for some, and Christmas, as well as being in the middle of the Southern hemisphere’s summer holidays, was very challenging and definitely impacted on participation.

  • Remote participation is often challenging and seemed particularly difficult at the 2018 IGF.

  • The quality of captioning was particularly poor in many of the sessions. This might have been a contributing factor to the difficulties experienced in remote participation.

  • Some rooms were small and lacked capacity for people to sit (sometimes up to only 30 people), leaving people standing, sitting on the floor or unable to enter a room. After the first day, security prevented people from attending an event if the room was “full”.

Programming, content and session

  • While acknowledging the efforts of the MAG in this respect, the workshop selection process remains difficult to understand and it is not clear that it results in the desired mix of topics and approaches. Many excellent proposals that we are aware of, or were part of, were not accepted. This impacts on participation.

  • Many sessions had too many panellists and the “round table” format seems to have become simply a mechanism for having a huge panel. This was particularly evident in the main sessions where the contributions of the stakeholders felt diluted by the rigid format. We strongly advise that the guidelines for this format be revised so that it achieves what we understand to be its original objective: to play a role in synthesising outcomes and key messages.

  • Interpretation was not available in all sessions.

Community intersessional activities

The appointment of some BPF coordinators rather late in the process was problematic.

The scheduling of workshops on very similar topics at the same time was also problematic. We acknowledge that the Secretariat does its best to avoid this, but it remains a problem.

Dynamic Coalition meetings should be allocated 90 minutes instead of an hour. An hour is not enough for an active DC.

Cutting back on IGF secretariat support for intersessional work seems to have impacted on the preparation of work for the IGF in the case of some of the Best Practice Forums.

B) Suggestions for improvements that could be made for 2019
B1. Preparatory processes including venue, timing, logistics, participation and networking

Improve the overall preparatory process of the IGF

  • MAG selection – new MAG members should be identified ahead of the IGF, to enable incoming MAG members to fully take advantage of the IGF to get oriented.

  • Identifying and mapping current policy discussions that the IGF could feed into at the outset of the preparatory process. This could enable more effective communication (including visualisation) of outputs of the global IGF. The input on themes given to the Secretariat can be included in this mapping.

  • Engage proactively on programme content and themes with the conveners of national and regional IGFs. This is already in process but we think it can be strengthened.

  • As a means of encouraging government participation, proactively consult with governments and with intergovernmental bodies on issues they would like to see discussed at the IGF.

  • Create a mechanism linked to the IGF that addresses the expressed need of governments for a forum to discuss internet-related public policy issues in order to increase their participation, and the impact of the IGF. More advantage could be taken of the Secretariat’s location in Geneva to develop such a mechanism and to increase government participation through proactive engagement with Geneva-based missions of UN member states.

  • Strengthen the capacity-building dimension of the IGF and enhance participation by establishing closer relationships with the internet governance schools (EuroSSIG, AfriSIG, the South School and APSIG). For example, alumni from these schools could volunteer at global and regional IGFs. The dynamic coalition on internet governance schools is an ideal entry point for this.

  • Encourage and invite stakeholders from the global South to play prominent roles at the IGF. Funds should be secured to support their participation. This also requires investment of effort around many actors, including developing country governments. The MAG should initiate discussions with these governments very early on in the preparatory process for the annual IGF. Proactive measures should also be taking to involve them in intersessional work.

  • More testing should be done beforehand in a new venue to try and rule out remote participation glitches.

  • Remote moderators should scan the Twitter feed, incorporating questions and comments, as a means of widening opportunity for remote participation. We were pleased to see that many have already started doing this.

  • Affordability should play a role in the choice of host country so as to maximise participation and diversity of attendees. Recognising Germany’s leadership in organising the Freedom Online Conference and ensuring diverse participation, we encourage them and other donor countries to do the same for IGF 2019 by creating a fund to help event speakers and workshop organisers, especially those from the global South, to attend.

B2. Programming, content and session formats
  • Consider changing the overall structure for the IGF to have two days of workshops followed by two days of main sessions interspersed with round tables and Best Practice Forums. This structure will enable deepening of the discussion on some topics, and facilitate developing key messages, outcomes, and input into the work programme for the next cycle of intersessional work.

  • Engage the support of professional event designers/and or facilitators with expertise in planning and managing large participatory events. For example, the MAG could experiment with interactive meeting methodologies such as Open Space Technology even if just for one track or theme. This will need to be done before the call for workshop proposals goes out and might also be a way of reducing the workshop selection workload.

  • Be sure to include a focus on the fifth anniversary of the Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance (NETmundial).

  • Revisit the IGF’s earlier focus on facilitating the development of agreed-on principles for internet governance. NETmundial produced such principles but we need the whole IGF multistakeholder community and intergovernmental institutions to reflect and agree on such principles.

  • Revise the round table format so that it is interactive, involving the audience, and not just an extended set of panellists.

  • Use plenaries and round tables for synthesis and cross-cutting and emerging issues.

  • Workshops are a way of bringing people to the IGF and building community ownership, and therefore limiting their number must be done with care.

  • Continue to avoid workshops on common themes running concurrently. Event design could facilitate a process whereby they can reinforce and interact with one another rather than compete.

  • Consider building in some open slots into the programme which can be used for networking or unscheduled sessions.

  • Ensure that panels are composed with gender balance.

  • Ensure that the IGF agenda responds to issues that matter to under-represented groups, who often have existing capacity in relation to these areas, and can share their knowledge with the IGF community. Examples include people with disabilities, people living in rural areas without sufficient infrastructure, people from small island states and indigenous people. One way of doing this would be to cluster the feedback received in response to the call for input in such a way that issues relevant to under-represented groups are tagged as such.

  • Balance taking into account the priorities and particularities of different regions while continuing to address global issues and explore linkages between global, regional and national levels.

B3. Community intersessional work

We recommend that the Secretariat continue to support intersessional work, as we have observed much stronger outputs/impact where the Secretariat provided support. We want to thank and commend them for their work to support NRIs, as well as other forms of intersessional activity. Our suggestions for 2019:

  • Increase the profile given to the outputs of intersessional work. Many people still do not realise that BPFs and DCs are producing concrete policy recommendations as well as impacting on implementation.

  • Assign more secretariat support to the Working Group on IGF Improvements and build improvements into the IGF’s annual plan and budget.

  • The MAG should be more selective in the selection of BPF themes and avoid bundling too many topics together. A smaller number of strong and effective BPFs is better than having too many if some of them are not well coordinated and supported.

  • An area that we want to stress as needing improvement is the relationship between DCs and BPFs and NRIs. Resources should be sought to support the participation of BPFs (and DCs where relevant) in NRIs, particularly at regional IGFs. BPFs should try to be more consistent in seeking and reflecting input from NRIs in their work processes and output documents.

  • Pre-events play a significant capacity-building role. IGF 2019 should include a Day 0 at the main IGF venue to facilitate Day 0 events.

  • Designate a member of the Secretariat to play a government liaison role as a means of increasing government participation in, and benefit from, intersessional work. Also see our recommendations above in Section B1.

National and regional IGF initiatives (NRIs)

  • NRIs to should remain independent and be able to identify their own themes and priorities.

  • The MAG should encourage NRIs to contribute to the open consultations – or consult with them proactively – so that the priorities identified are taken into account when the annual global programme is developed, but this should not be forced. Global, regional and national events will naturally focus on different issues. The most logical and useful links would be through intersessional work. Organisers of BPFs or DCs, for example, should reach out to NRIs and vice versa, with the support of the Secretariat and MAG.

  • Dialogue between the regions can be encouraged through the IGF Secretariat’s facilitation of periodic meetings between the conveners of NRIs and of BPFs.

  • MAG members and delegates of the IGF Secretariat should aim to attend as many NRIs as possible (in their regions, ideally) to stimulate cross-fertilisation among the regional and the global processes.

B4. The mandate, nomination process and make-up of the Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG) and the appointment process for the IGF-MAG Chair

Over time, the position of MAG chairperson should rotate among stakeholder groups and regional groupings.

  • Consider having co-chairs or a friends of the chair group (made up of other MAG members) to work with the MAG chairperson to a) assist with the workload and b) ensure that voices from all regions of the world and different perspectives and stakeholder groups are reflected in MAG coordination. This small chairing group can share the load and support the chair and the Secretariat as needed.

  • Increase transparency by publishing a full list of MAG nominees, including their nominating party.

  • Clarify the accountability relationships between the UN Secretary-General, the MAG, the IGF Secretariat and UNDESA, including whether the MAG’s mandate does or does not extend beyond organising the annual event and intersessional work.

  • Appoint the Special Advisor and the Executive Secretary. Their absence still leaves a gap in spite of the increased capacity and performance of IGF staff and the significant value added by the excellent MAG chairperson.

B5. Capturing the outputs of the IGF to increase their visibility and impact

Over the last four years, IGF intersessional work has steadily strengthened, and it should be sustained and receive greater prominence. Ways in which this can be done include:

  • Translating the IGF “key messages” – an excellent innovation – into all UN languages.

  • Communicating outputs from intersessional work, and the event, and presenting them at relevant policy spaces. This requires:

    • Ensuring that the Secretariat has sufficient capacity, particularly communications capacity.

    • Mapping of ongoing policy spaces (mentioned already as useful to the preparatory work) and the creation of a mechanism for information sharing to ensure interaction between content and outcomes of discussions at the IGF, and other policy-making spaces.

    • Building on the current practice of ensuring linkages with other institutions and mechanisms or using BPFs to contribute to the work of, for example, UN Women, Special Rapporteurs to the Human Rights Council, or the UN General Assembly.

    • Identifying, and proactively addressing, lack of integration between the SDG and WSIS processes through reaching out to, for example the Technology Facilitation Mechanism of the SDG process.

    • Reaching out to other policy communities, particularly those involved in development policy, environmental policy, trade, access to knowledge, human rights, women's rights, and democratisation and good governance.

We do not expect the IGF to achieve this on its own, but through well-coordinated cooperation with other networks, institutions and agencies, inside the UN and outside it. APC believes that a key element of a more effective IGF consists of strengthening the participation of governments in the IGF process, and ensuring that they gain concrete benefit from this participation.

C) How could the IGF respond to the recommendations made by the UN Secretary-General during his speech at the IGF 2018 Opening Ceremony?

Below we list some of the key points made by the UN Secretary-General and include suggestions on how the IGF could respond.

Adoption of a multistakeholder and multidisciplinary approach

Many in the IGF community will probably believe this is already happening, and in many ways it is – more so than in many other parts of the UN. However, we think that the Secretary-General has a point. More can be done, particularly to ensure a multidisciplinary approach. The IGF Secretariat/MAG and BPF coordinators should do more active outreach to engage stakeholders from different disciplines and from other parts of the UN system to facilitate the breaking down of silos and cross-disciplinary exchanges of knowledge. They could also invite comment on key messages and BPF and DC outcome documents from different sectors and disciplines. The lack of integration between the WSIS process and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, a commonly noted problem, can be addressed through greater focus on a multidisciplinary approach.

Creation of a shared digital language and references

Internet policy issues (trade, security or human rights) are interrelated, but they are being addressed in siloed and contradictory ways in the UN system, and even where shared language and references exist, they are not being used consistently (e.g. between the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly). The Secretary-General’s office could put resources (located, for example, in the IGF Secretariat) towards facilitating information on what forums are dealing with what issues to ensure that the competent forums are dealing with the most consequential questions, and that norms and standards adopted in one forum are not undercut by another. This is a point of collaboration with the UN HLPDC.

Inclusion and amplification of weak and missing voices

The Secretary-General's encouragement to include and amplify weak and missing voices, particularly in bridging the digital divide, is laudable. However, as more of the world’s population gains access to the internet and more than half the participants at the IGF 2018 are from the global South, further research and analysis is required to identify who precisely the missing stakeholders are. In the case of the IGF, it lacks the financial resources to bring under-represented voices to the table, and this needs to be addressed. The forum has recently been held in expensive cities in Western Europe and there is virtually no funding to bring people from different parts of the world, much less traditionally unheard and marginalised voices.

Further, as the IGF is a policy forum, full of technical and legal language, the nature of discussions can be alienating. Keeping in mind the current funding situation and other factors, it is particularly critical to reinforce the NRIs and facilitate experiences at the national and regional levels, as well as through intersessional work. The prioritisation of under-represented voices in IGF initiatives at the local, national and regional levels will further add to digital discussions.

Foster greater impact from discussions at IGF/IGF as outcome-oriented

We agree that discussions on internet governance cannot just remain discussions. The Secretary-General’s emphasis on the need for outcomes, along with President Macron’s suggestion that the IGF needs to move beyond debate and reflection to become a body that produces tangible proposals, is positive encouragement for the forum to become more outcome-oriented in its approaches to digital challenges. Already, work done as part of the IGF process is informing policy discussions in other spaces. This can be hard to track and document, but should not be underestimated. For example, a 2018 ITU Plenipotentiary resolution cited the work of the IGF Dynamic Coalition on Accessibility and Disability in updates that improved the accessibility of documents and publications of the ITU. There are many policy spaces that the IGF can inform with the benefit of multistakeholder collaboration and dialogue. Mapping relevant policy spaces against intersessional work is a much needed step in order maximise and leverage the valuable work that is being done by the IGF community.

We want to note, however, that “outcomes” come in many different shapes and sizes. The value of the IGF as a multistakeholder space that can build understanding, relationships and consensus because it does not have to negotiate outcomes, should not be underestimated.

D) How could the IGF respond to President Macron’s “call for action” made during his speech at the IGF 2018 Opening Ceremony?

President Macron’s call to action for trust and security in cyberspace brought several issues to the forefront. While we did not sign the Paris Call, APC valued that it endorses the Global Commission for the Stability of Cyberspace’s call to protect the public core of the internet and sees it as a welcome step for improving security, stability and rights in cyberspace. We encourage all stakeholders to adhere to it and look forward to reviewing it at IGF 2019.

Suggestion on the IGF becoming directly attached to the Secretary-General’s Office

We would like President Macron’s suggestion that the IGF come under the Office of the Secretary-General (it is currently under UNDESA) and for it to have its own Secretariat to be explored further. Regrettably, since the Secretary-General spoke before Macron, he did not have the opportunity to respond to this proposal.

Heavy-handed regulatory approach to internet platforms

In his speech, President Macron emphasised the challenges of security on the internet and stated, “Today, when I look at our democracies, the Internet is much better used by those on the extremes… used more for hate speech or dissemination of terrorist content than by many others.” APC acknowledges the undemocratic and unaccountable nature of how platforms govern online expression, privacy and other rights. However, we are wary of a heavy-handed regulatory approach that encourages a close relationship between governments and companies without independent oversight or civil society engagement.

Regulation can play a role in combating fake news, stopping copyright infringement, and fighting online child abuse. However, this could also potentially lead to an erosion of rights due to overcompliance because of the the threat of heavy fines, as well as to less transparency and accountability, which we would like to believe is not President Macron’s intention. We encourage President Macron to look at the recommendations of the UN Special rapporteur on freedom of expression and opinion, as well as the work of the Paris-based Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network.

Assigning “agency” to the internet is not a helpful approach

President Macron assigns agency to the internet as being either a positive, benign or malignant force. While this might make for a good speech, it is not helpful when considering how to address the harmful use of the internet that he identifies. The internet ultimately reflects the values of the people who design, regulate and use it. Intolerance, racism, hatred and violence exist first and foremost in our societies and are rooted in “offline” social, economic and political contexts that cannot be fixed by regulating the internet.

“California internet” vs. “China internet”

President Macron typified two ideologies of the internet which he referred to as a “Californian form of internet”, unregulated and driven by strong, dominant, global private players, and a “Chinese internet”, where the government drives innovations and control. The president stated he had great respect for the latter model. Aside from being somewhat culturally insensitive, this depiction is binary in a way that is not very useful, and it overlooks the fact that efforts to restrict and control the internet are prevalent in many parts of the world, including in so-called liberal democracies. It is important to recognise here that there are more than two types of internet. The internet is a diverse landscape and the values of openness, accessibility, transparency and multistakeholder governance processes should not be compromised. In fact, it is APC’s view that the primary justifiable motivation for regulation would be to secure such openness, transparency and accessibility. If President Macron’s admiration for the Chinese model is an indicator that he believes that user behaviour and content online need to be actively controlled by states, that is a serious cause for concern and should be debated in the IGF community.

On multilateralism

The involvement of state actors in the internet governance process is critical. However, the emphasis on multilateral action in President Macron’s speech seemed to be at the exclusion of other stakeholder groups. The IGF must retain its global nature and governments should not become “more equal” than others in the forum.

E) What other organisations/disciplines should the IGF be collaborating with and how/to what purpose?

UNESCO’s Internet Universality Indicators

APC is extremely pleased that this tool developed by UNESCO with APC support was presented at the Paris IGF. The UNESCO Internet Universality Indicators aim to measure to what extent the ROAM (rights-openness-access-multistakeholder) principles are applied at national levels in relationship with cross-cutting indicators on gender and the needs of children and young people, sustainable development, trust and security, and legal and ethical concerns. Quantitative, qualitative and institutional indicators are included, along with a list of identified sources and means of verification. The purpose of the indicators is not in any way intended to result in any kind of index or ranking of countries. They are designed to facilitate learning and country-level discussion among stakeholders on how to improve “internet universality”. Measuring progress – or regression – in the extent to which internet-related human rights are respected, how universally accessible and used the internet is, and how inclusive internet governance processes are, is difficult but important. APC believes that the use of these indicators should become part of the IGF’s ongoing intersessional agenda. There is no better space than the IGF to share the learning that will result from the application of these indicators. This can contribute to an ongoing collective stocktaking on the extent and impacts of internet development.

Consolidation of the IGF as a platform for cooperation within the UN system

Its birth out of a UN summit and its ongoing relationship with the UN system is a source of legitimacy for this multistakeholder forum which should be cherished and nurtured. The IGF’s location inside the UN reflects the importance of collaboration between multilateral and multistakeholder institutions to ensure that the internet’s potential to enable the goals of sustainable development, peace, and respect for human rights is realised. We believe the IGF should remain under the UN umbrella but retain its autonomy. In fact, in some respects, it would be good if it could have more.

NETmundial+5

The 2014 NETmundial conference produced the most widely supported principles for internet governance to date. It also proposed a roadmap for taking inclusive, international internet governance forward. As it is five years since the NETmundial conference, the next IGF should review how the Sao Paulo Declaration of Principles and Roadmap have been implemented since their adoption in 2014. Specifically, the NETmundial roadmap made recommendations for the IGF which should be reviewed.

Integrating development-related topics and closer collaboration with the UN’s focus on science, technology and innovation (STI) as key means of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda

To ensure that a fuller range of issues relating to sustainable development and broader public policy are reflected in the programme, the IGF MAG needs to get input from, and facilitate dialogue with, development policy makers and practitioners, many of whom are not currently engaged. In particular, we would recommend closer collaboration with the SDG process through its Technology Facilitation Mechanism (TFM). The IGF MAG could invite representatives of the UN TFM to participate in the annual event and in the IGF process (including intersessional work and the NRIs). This would be one way for the IGF to respond to the Secretary-General’s call for a multidisciplinary approach. The IGF should strive to be a more active presence in the annual Multistakeholder Forum for Science, regional STI consultations and the STI Forum, supported by the Inter Agency Task Team on Science, Technology and Innovation for the SDGs (IATT). The theme of the STI Forum for 2019 Goal 9 on Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure provides an excellent opportunity for the IGF to engage with this process.

These, however, are just examples. APC proposes that the UN Secretary General be asked by the MAG to facilitate a dialogue between the IGF and the TFM that can produce a long term-plan for effective collaboration between the two processes.

F) On the Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation (HLPDC): On the IGF and HLPDC
F1. How can the IGF contribute to the work of the HLPDC to help foster these aims?
F2. Do you have any specific inputs for the HLPDC in relation to the IGF?

As stated earlier, it is important to remember that the IGF is not just an annual event. It is a year-long process that entails intersessional work, on a range of topics, as well as multiple national and regional IGFs. The IGF also has a role in connecting relevant internet governance-related processes taking place elsewhere, particularly processes elsewhere in the UN system. The fact that the UN Secretary General’s High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation is using the IGF as a forum for open dialogue and the exchange of ideas, and that Secretary-General António Guterres attended and gave a speech at the IGF, reinforces the value and status of the IGF as a critical space for digital discussions. That the High-level Panel was established, however, also indicates that there are still gaps in coordination and cooperation in global internet governance, gaps that the IGF could fill, but is not able to in its current iteration.

We believe that it makes more sense to build the institutional capacity of the IGF to operate as a base for more effective coordination (at least with regard to the internet and internet-related matters) than to establish new institutional mechanisms.

Aside from having the potential to be the ideal institutional home for coordination, the IGF is also the most appropriate forum for addressing some of the underlying issues that we believe impede collaboration and coordination: the lack of agreed high-level principles for internet governance and internet-related public policy making. NETmundial was an effort to achieve this. We recommend the development of a core set of principles, through the IGF, which can then be adopted at the UN level, that define critical concepts, build upon the WSIS principles, and endorse other principles accepted by UN member states, such as the nature of the internet as an enabler of human rights, and recognise that rights which apply offline also apply online. As one of the most important spaces for internet governance and policy making, the IGF is a key partner for the HLPDC in addressing challenges in the digital age and building digital cooperation among stakeholders. APC continues to believe that the IGF has the potential to be a key platform for filling existing gaps effectively, but to do so it must be strengthened based on our prior recommendations.

In APC’s submission to the HLPDC, we outlined in detail the potential contributions of the IGF to HLPDC. See also the open letter from APC et al. on the establishment of the HLPDC.

By Deborah Brown (Global Policy Advocacy Lead), Anriette Esterhuysen (Senior advisor on internet governance, policy advocacy and strategic planning) and Mehar Gujral (Policy analyst intern).

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