The Internet Governance Forum is a multistakeholder policy dialogue space convened by the United Nations Secretary General in 2006 to “foster the sustainability, robustness, security, stability and development of the internet.”
It provides a kind of “pressure relief valve” for some of the most controversial internet governance issues, allowing actors with quite radically different and often opposing views to come together in an environment that is in the main respectful and constructive.
APC has found that the IGF is an experimental and influential policy forum for achieving our mission of ensuring open, universal and affordable access to the internet for all people. At the IGF, we advocate for policies and regulatory approaches that ensure equitable and affordable access, freedom of information and expression, access to knowledge, public participation, human rights, capacity building and a development agenda for internet governance. And we express our concern about the erosion and diminishing visibility of a rights-based approach to how the internet is governed.
At the first IGF in Athens in 2006, “access (to the internet)” emerged as an issue of common concern and priority to all stakeholders.
At the second IGF in Rio de Janeiro in 2007, business, civil society and the technical communities active in the IGF worked together to prepare a more coherent approach to access in the IGF, the outcome of which was a convergence in views as to what should be done to increase access to the internet across the world.
“Reaching the next billion” was a priority theme for the third IGF held in Hyderabad in 2008.
Human rights were far more prominent at the 2009 IGF in Sharm El Sheikh. In our assessment, the most significant development was the consensus among all stakeholder groups in the main session on “openness and security” that privacy and security are not to be traded off against one another but that both are equally important. This was a significant step in the right direction to a human rights-based internet and one that APC has been advocating for especially in our work around content regulation.
For the sixth IGF in Nairobi in 2011, APC hosted a pre-event on access to the internet as well as workshops on human rights, open spectrum for development and mobile internet. Our reflections on the event stressed the importance of the fact that this was the first global IGF held in Africa.
The seventh IGF was held in Baku in 2012. The main theme for the meeting was "Internet Governance for Sustainable Human, Economic and Social Development". We produced an assessment that looked at "the good, the bad and the ugly" of the event.
The ninth IGF took place in Istanbul in 2014. The main theme for the meeting was "Connecting Continents for Enhanced Multistakeholder Internet Governance". Our post-IGF reflections explored the connections and disconnects we observed.
At the 10th IGF, which was held in João Pessoa in 2015, the focus was on "Evolution of Internet Governance: Empowering Sustainable Development". Our assessment stressed that the renewal of the IGF's mandate for another 10 years was an excellent opportunity to strengthen the processes and outcomes of the Forum, and we offered recommendations on ways to achieve this strengthening.
"Enabling Inclusive and Sustainable Growth" was the main theme of the 11th IGF, which took place in Guadalajara in 2016. We prepared a submission as input to the stocktaking consultation organised by the IGF Secretariat, offering our views on what worked well, what did not work so well, and what could be done to improve the following year's Forum.
The 12th annual meeting of the Internet Governance Forum was held in Geneva, Switzerland, from 18 to 21 December 2017, on the theme "Shape your digital future!". APC defined its priorities for the space in this document.
Regional Internet Governance Forums
Since 2008, APC has been directly involved in regional IGFs in Latin America, Asia and Africa, as well as a growing number of national IGFs.
Photo by Arturo Bregaglio.