Geneva Internet Conference – Internet Governance at a Crossroads

17 Nov 2014 01:00h - 19 Nov 2014 01:00h

Geneva, Switzerland

The Geneva Internet Conference (GIC) addressed critical issues, gaps, and future developments in Internet governance (IG) and digital politics. The conference provided a neutral and inclusive space for debates as it paves the way to 2015, building on the main events and developments in 2014, including announcement of the transition of the IANA oversight of Internet functions, NETmundial and the Internet Governance Forum. 

Check the Programme tab for sessions' recordings and notes.

Geneva message

Strengthening Internet Governance: the message from the Geneva Internet Conference
17-19 November 2014

  1. Mapping Internet governance in a comprehensible and dynamic way
    The mapping of Internet governance (IG) – identifying the issues and who deals with them – should be comprehensible and dynamic in order to facilitate easy access to IG for newcomers and improve coordination of activities among stakeholders. More info
  2. Bridging policy silos
    Professional and institutional policy silos exist from local to global level, both within and between institutions. Bridging them, with their different practices and vocabularies, is essential in designing and implementing effective and inclusive IG policies. These silos can be traversed using a mix of structured and ad hoc approaches, ranging from joint working groups to informal exchanges. More info
  3. Harvesting and harnessing IG complexity
    The complexity of IG can be both a threat and an enabler. As a threat, complexity may trigger policy paralysis. As an enabler, if complexity is harvested, it can enrich the IG space with diverse ideas and initiatives. If harnessed, it can help actors to address their IG priorities without losing sight of the broader policy picture. Efforts to deal with complexity should not lead to oversimplification; flexible forms of cooperation should be encouraged. More info
  4. Developing innovative legal approaches to the Internet
    Legal rules and jurisdiction on the Internet evolve through reinterpretation, adaptation, and expansion of existing laws. In some cases, the creation of new legal mechanisms for online space (e.g. the right to be forgotten, e-signatures) is required. Innovative solutions should be informed by the cumulative wisdom of the legal profession. More info
  5. Strengthening genuine participation in IG processes
    Full inclusion and genuine participation in IG processes increases the quality and also the acceptance of the policies adopted, building on the diversity of views represented. Strengthening inclusive multistakeholder participation requires a sense of community around which online participation can be implemented. E-participation requires good planning and considerable social engagement. An effective interplay between in situ and e-participation can be achieved through changes in the organisation of meetings, adjustment of procedures, and training. More info
  6. Ensuring holistic capacity development
    Capacity development for IG should be holistic, going beyond simply training individuals. To be sustainable, capacity development should support the emergence of functional and robust institutions which are essential for facilitating innovation, rule of law, and protecting human rights on the Internet. Capacity development requires a smart mix of training, coaching, and the introduction of policy mechanisms adjusted to specific local and national contexts. More info
  7. Aiming for full transparency, accepting occasional translucency
    Transparency is a necessary condition for trust, and for the accountability that all IG processes need to adhere to and, where possible, institutionalise. Occasional translucency – being transparent about what we cannot be transparent about – can be accepted when the risks posed by disclosing information are greater than the overall benefits, in particular if they affect those in a vulnerable position. More info
  8. Using subsidiarity effectively
    While the Internet is a global network, policy implications are often local and national. As the Internet as a network of networks allows for a diversity of local technical solutions that are interoperable, this approach should also be used more at policy level. While adhering to globally shared basic principles, there should be room for diversity of policies responding to different local and regional needs and priorities. Using the principle of subsidiarity to address IG issues at the appropriate level will make IG more effective. It will improve trust in, and ownership and acceptance of, Internet-related policies. When it is not possible to solve a problem locally, ‘policy elevators’ should bring the issue to the optimal level. More info
  9. Drafting IG policies in open consultation
    Inclusive and participatory multistakeholder policy drafting should start with open consultations. Procedures should facilitate the involvement of diverse actors in collaborative drafting, reflecting a multitude of approaches (diplomatic, technical, civil society, business, etc.). Transparency, with checks and balances, can maximise the potential for broad consensus and minimise the risk of a few actors hijacking the process. More info
  10. Prioritising evidence and data collection
    Evidence and data should contribute to more solid and sustainable IG. Evidence-based IG typically starts with identifying a full range of possibly diverse needs and aims on all levels. It collects relevant data using appropriate tools and methods, measures and assesses impact, and presents findings in an understandable way for policymakers. Priority areas for evidence-based approaches are cybercrime, and monitoring the level of digital divide. More info


[Update] Press release: Geneva Internet Conference's first edition delivers powerful recommendations and questions for the future of Internet governance, 20 November



The objectives of the Geneva Internet Conference were:

  • to provide concrete proposals for the future IG arrangements
  • to promote an evidence-based approach in global Internet policy-making
  • to articulate the roles and responsibilities of relevant stakeholders, including governments, companies, and civil society
  • to ensure cross-fertilisation between Internet governance and other policy processes

The main themes:

  • How to ensure genuine and robust IG processes?
  • How to promote the proper participation of various actors in IG?
  • How to overcome policy silos?
  • How to make decisions and generate concrete outputs in IG multistakeholder processes?
  • How to ensure effective implementation and compliance in IG?

The Geneva Internet Conference (17-19 November, 2014) was organised as a process with a number of preparatory and follow-up activities. Users and communities worldwide participated in interactive sessions via e-participation and remote hubs. Before the conference, substantive discussions focused on key themes to inform the design of the conference and to facilitate dialogue between the IG and other policy communities (security, migration, climate change, etc.). Each theme was introduced in an hour-long webinar with open participation, followed by three-week long online discussions, whose outcomes fed into the conference. 


16 September - 3 October
# 1: How to overcome IG policy silos on global and national levels? 

Policymakers across different sectors face similar issues, yet follow or adopt very different perspectives. A cross-cutting approach is more the exception than the rule in organisations and institutions dealing with Internet-related topics. What can be done to achieve coordination among different actors on the national and international levels? How can we avoid turf battles and foster constructive dialogue? To what extent is it possible to overcome policy silos? What practical approaches can be used to create IG policy coherence - examples, case studies, anecdotes?

[Update] The webinar to introduce this first theme was held on 16 September. The webinar recording and digest are now available here.
[Update] A survey on policy silos was conducted. Its purpose was to study how organisations and departments deal with cross-cutting Internet policy issues such as human rights and security. View the survey questions here.
[Update] The summary of the forum discussion on this question is now available:  How to overcome IG policy silos on global and national levels


6 - 24 October
# 2: Whom do I contact if I want to raise my Internet governance (IG) concern?

IG is a highly complex policy space with hundreds of actors addressing more than 50 different policy issues in a wide range of forums. Few actors, if any, have a complete grasp of its full complexity. This challenge has triggered many small and developing countries to request a one-stop shop for voicing their concerns. The design of this one-stop shop, or clearinghouse, is key: Should it be a new international Internet organisation, a global multistakeholder IG clearing house, a distributed governance system, or...? What other properties/functions should it have? What are the particular needs of your organisation/institution? Which of the models should it follow?

[Update] The webinar to introduce this second theme was held on 6 October. The webinar recording and digest are now available here.
[Update] The summary of the forum discussion on this question is now available:  Whom do I contact if I want to raise my Internet Governance concern


28 October - 12 November
# 3: Evidence and measurement in IG: What sort of data and numbers are we talking about?

Paradoxically, although the Internet is an engineering artefact, we have very little data relevant for IG. In cybersecurity, we are still in doubt about the number of threats and the size of the losses incurred. The same applies in other IG fields. Without understanding the scope of the problem, it is difficult to discuss possible solutions. What can be done to bring more evidence in IG, using what concrete tools and techniques? How should an IG observatory, which would gather and prepare such evidence, function?

[Update] The webinar to introduce this third theme was held on 28 October. The webinar recording and digest are now available here.
[Update] The summary of the forum discussion on this question is now available:  Evidence and measurement in IG - what sort of data and numbers are we talking about



Programme PDF | Speakers: online / PDF | Organisers PDF
DAY ZERO – 17 November 2014
14.00 ‒ 17.00 Introduction to Internet governance (pre-conference workshop) -
[UpdateWorkshop report
17.30 ‒ 19.30 Keynote address by Fadi Chehadé,   Session recording
President and Chief Executive Officer, ICANN
[UpdateSession notes
Inauguration of Geneva Digital Landscape IG 360° followed by a reception - WMO Attic
DAY ONE – 18 November 2014
The Internet governance landscape
09.30 ‒ 10.00
Welcome and opening remarks  
Amb. Jürg Lauber, Head of Division, UN and International Organisations Division, Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs
Ruedi Noser, National Counselor, President of ICT Switzerland and an initiator of the Geneva Internet Platform  
[UpdateSession notes
10.00 ‒ 11.00
FORUM: One Internet – many policy angles    Session recording
Malcolm Johnson, Deputy Secretary-General elect  & Director, Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, ITU
Yi Xiaozhun, Deputy Director General, WTO
Flavia Pansieri, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, OHCHR
Christian Wichard, Deputy Director-General, Global Issues Sector, WIPO
[UpdateSession notes
Preserving one Internet involves different policy processes. More than 50% of global Internet policy is discussed and decided on in Geneva: telecom infrastructure, human rights, e-commerce, digital intellectual property are just a few of the areas. This high-level panel will discuss different policy angles, and ways in which cross-cutting Internet policy can be developed. High officials from the ITU, the WTO, and WIPO will discuss potential synergies among their activities of the relevance for the Internet.
11.00 ‒ 11.30
Coffee break and conference photo
11.30 ‒ 13.00
FORUM: Mapping the Internet governance landscape ‒ actors, processes, and issues   Session recording
Moderator: Jovan Kurbalija, DiploFoundation and GIP
Louis Pouzin, expert in computer communications (one of the fathers of the Internet)
William J. Drake, International Fellow and Lecturer, University of Zurich & Chair, Noncommercial Users Constituency, ICANN

Rinalia Abdul Rahim, Managing Director, Compass Rose Sdn Bhd & Member of the Board of Directors, ICANN
Khaled Fattal, Group Chairman, Multilingual Internet Group, London

[UpdateSession notes  

Internet governance is a highly complex policy space with hundreds of actors addressing more than 50 IG issues through more than 1000 mechanisms (conventions, standards,events, experts groups, etc.). The more Internet impacts all spheres of our life, the more complex and broader Internet governance will become.  Very few actors, if any, have a full grasp of the complexity of IG.  The risk of incomprehensible IG could lead towards the marginalisation of some actors and, ultimately, a risk for legitimacy of Internet governance. In addition, good mapping of Internet governance will increase the efficiency of policy processes and reduce duplicate efforts in various forums. The session will discuss the challenge of mapping Internet governance and ways and means of making it more accessible to all concerned. The panellists will address the following issues:

  • What does Internet governance include?
  • What are the criteria for mapping Internet governance issues and their relevance?
  • How can we create easier access to Internet governance?
  • If a one-stop shop is a solution, what functions should it have and how should it be organised?
13.00 ‒ 14.30
Lunch break
14.30 ‒ 16.00
Same issues, different perspectives: overcoming policy silos in privacy and data protection   Session recording
Moderator: Vladimir Radunovic, DiploFoundation and GIP
Brian Trammell, Senior Researcher, Communication Systems Group, ETH Zurich
Nick Ashton-Hart, Executive Director, Internet &Digital Ecosystem Alliance (IDEA) 

Amb. Thomas Hajnoczi, Permanent Mission of Austria to the United Nations, Geneva
Carly Nyst, Legal Director, Privacy International

[UpdateSession notes 
The omnipresence of the Internet in modern society makes most Internet policy issues transversal. For example, cybercrime cannot be addressed only as a security issue or e-commerce only as trade issue. Yet, a transversal approach is more an exception than a common practice in Internet governance. This session will discuss ways and means of introducing a transversal approach using the example of data protection and privacy, addressed from standardisation, human rights, diplomatic, security, and business perspectives.
14.30 ‒ 16.00

Event video

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