Internet Governance Course with the University of St. Gallen

9 Oct 2015 - 10 Oct 2015




'Internet Governance' course by dr Jovan Kurbalija

Geneva Segment of the Course was hosted by the Geneva Internet Platform

First Day - Introduction to Internet Governance | Second Day - Simulation Exercise | Outcome of Simulation Exercise: International Declaration on Internet Governance


First Day - Friday, 9th October 2015




10.00 – 10.30

Introduction to the training; Distribution of simulation roles

10.30 – 11.15

Mapping the Internet governance field

11.15 – 11.30

Coffee break

11.30 – 12.30

Infrastructure and standardization basket

12.30 – 13.20

Lunch break

13.20 – 14.00

Security basket

14.00 – 14.40

Human rights basket

14.40 – 15.20

Legal basket

15.20 – 15.40

Coffee break and 360 Geneva IG Tour

15.40 – 16.00

How to negotiate in multilateral diplomacy?

16.00 – 16.40

Economic basket

16.40 – 17.20

Development basket

17.20 – 18.00

Socio-cultural basket

18.00 – 19.00

Summary of the day and preparations for tomorrow’s simulation exercise ‘Negotiating an International Declaration on the Internet’

Second Day - Saturday, 10th October 2015


Simulation Exercise - Negotiating an International Declaration on Internet Governance


Imaginary Scenario


Today, the Internet governance debate is accelerating. What was once only debated in the realm of geeks, Internet governance (IG) has now moved higher on global policy agendas. The world’s dependence on the Internet is monumental. Governments, businesses, citizens are concerned about the functionality of the Internet as the world´s critical infrastructure.

There is consensus that all efforts should be made to address the risks for the Internet and ensure that the Internet remains the driving engine for innovation and social and economic growth. There is yet no clear agreement on how to achieve global consensus.

Following strong pressure from governments, the general public, the industry and media, the UN General Assembly decides at the WSIS+10 meeting to mandate the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) to conduct immediate consultations in order to propose a global governance solution for the current digital challenges.

After numerous regional and thematic preparatory meetings, the IGF is scheduled to meet in September 2016 and adopt recommendations for the UN General Assembly. The day before the main IGF meeting, the working group meets to finalise the draft text of the recommendations. In this simulation exercise, you will be one of parties at the meeting of the IGF working group.


Negotiating Parties and Organisation


The following parities are members of the working group: Brazil, USA, China, G77, Switzerland, European Union, Russia, African Union, Civil Society and the Business Sector. Non-state actors will have observer status with the right to make oral and written interventions. They do not have decision-making power.

Each participant will receive written instructions on the background to his or her position, guidance on the line to take in each of the areas of the negotiation and, where appropriate, fallback positions to which resort, if necessary, as the negotiation progresses.

Negotiation takes place at the table and “in the corridor” (often the place where divergent positions can be discussed more candidly and potential agreements floated informally). The chair of the negotiation rotates around the group at intervals of ten minutes, giving all an opportunity to be in command of the process.

The focus of the exercise will be on negotiating techniques including: chairing, reaching consensus, and creating linkages between negotiating issues. At the close of the negotiation, training facilitators and participants will conduct a debriefing session.


Negotiating themes


For each of negotiating themes, delegations will be receiving detailed instructions. Instructions are based on Diplo’s research on the current positons of the main actors found in today’s real-life policy processes. The following negotiation thems were included:

Outcome of the Simulation Exercise:

International Declaration on Internet Governance 


(with commetns about simulation exercise in italics)

This text is an outcome of the simulation exercise held on 10 October 2015 with the students of the University of St. Gallen. The exercise followed introduction to Internet governance (IG) discussion sessions held on 9 October. The negotiation simulation exercise included delegations of IG 10 actors (African Union, Brazil, China, European Union, India, Russia, Switzerland, USA, business community and civil society).

Comments to the text are included in italics. You can also find references to real-life negotiations held at the UN in New York, on the review of outcomes of the World Summit of Information Society (WSIS) which was held in 2005. References are made to the Zero Draft of the WSIS +10 document.



We reaffirm the vision of a people-centred, inclusive, and development-oriented Information Society as defined by the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), as well as the objectives and norms established in the Geneva Declaration of Principles, the Geneva Plan of Action, the Tunis Commitment, and the Tunis Agenda for the Information Society

We recognize that information and communications technology (ICT) is an integral and key part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, both as a means of implementation and a target of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

We recognize the digital economy as an important and growing part of the global economy and global sustainable development.

Promoting access to ICTs and the Internet for all, as well as the ability of people to use and create ICTs, is fundamental to the WSIS vision. Particular attention should be paid to the special challenges facing the most vulnerable countries, particularly African countries; least developed countries; landlocked developing countries; and small island developing states. Consideration should be given to the specific challenges facing women, young people, persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples, and marginalised communities.

Multistakeholder cooperation and engagement are essential to the successful realization of the WSIS vision. We applaud the work of the diverse stakeholders in implementing WSIS outcomes, in their various roles and responsibilities, and we reaffirm the value of multistakeholder cooperation.

COMMENT: The preamble is based on the language already used in the WSIS+10 process (WSIS+10 Zero Draft Preamble).


1. Institutional framework

We encourage the development of adequate institutional frameworks that build on the work of the IGF, and are inspired by a tripartite stakeholder structure, such as the ILO. The institutional framework should be anchored in the UN system. It should reflect the diverse participation of governments, the business sector and Internet users [represented by civil society].  

COMMENT: Negotiators found the International Labour Organization (ILO) style tripartite structure to be a possible inspiration for compromise between intergovernmental and multistakeholder approaches. This structure should be developed through an upgrade of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF). For comparison you can consult:  WSIS+10 Zero Draft – Internet governance (para: 32-37).


2. Cybersecurity

We suggest the development of new cybersecurity legal instruments that take into consideration the experience developed in the framework of the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime.

COMMENT: This is a compromise formulation for requests for a new global cybersecurity convention, and recognition of the de facto use of the Council of Europe (CoE) Convention on Cybercrime as the substantive inspiration for most global cybercrime regulation (many national/regional instruments use approaches, instruments, and solutions from the CoE convention). For comparison you can consult:  WSIS+10 Zero Draft – Cybersecurity (para: 45-50).


3. Human rights

We acknowledge that human rights offline apply equally online. [We propose strengthening monitoring mechanisms for human rights online through the UN Human Rights Council.]

COMMENT: Negotiations on human rights were very heated. Except for the already agreed principle (human rights offline = human rights online), participants could not agree about enforcement mechanisms for human rights online, which remained in square brackets (no agreement). For comparison you can consult:  WSIS+10 Zero Draft –Human Rights (para: 40-44).


4. Jurisdiction

Rules of [national] jurisdiction apply online. National courts should have primacy when dealing with cyber issues. We agree that existing offline rules should be adapted to the online world through innovative means.

COMMENT: The main dynamic negotiation was over the use of national and international jurisdictions. The final formulation was ambiguous. One innovative element (arbitration) was adopted as well.


5. Data governance

We encourage the development of international frameworks on data use, and contractual transparency that will guide economic and security action. [The data governance framework should include civil society and other stakeholders.]

COMMENT: The most contested part of the ‘data governance’ section was the use of the term ‘transparency’. Interestingly enough, many governments opposed ‘transparency’ when it comes to security-related actions. A compromise was achieved by adding ‘contractual’ as a modifier to the term transparency, and referring mainly to the transparency of contract with final users, and how the Internet industry deals with data.  Negotiators did not agree on including civil society in data governance. The main, almost unified, opposition came from governments who are concerned about dealing with security aspect ofs data in a multistakeholder setting.


6. Access

We initiate the establishment of the Universal Access Fund which aims to provide universal access to the Internet by 2030. We recommend that one of the sources for the Universal Access Fund will be investment by the business sector [while maintaining network neutrality].

COMMENT: The negotiations on thie next section (access) started smoothly. All parties agreed to link access to the SDG 2030 Agenda. Discussion on the Universal Access Fund was controversial. Ultimately, through ‘linkage negotiations’ (concessions involving different baskets), developed countries accepted the Universal Access Fund. Parties could not agree on linking net neutrality and business support for access (e.g. recent controversy with Facebook providing limited access to local communities in Africa and Asia via For comparison you can consult:  WSIS+10 Zero Draft – Bridging the Digital Divide (para: 16-21).


7. Content policy

We encourage coordination of content policy at a global level. Content control should be transparent and only applied ex post. [We suggest establishing peer monitoring mechanisms that alert countries to misuse in content policy and restrictions of the free flow of information.]

COMMENT: While agreeing on some level of coordination of content policy, parties could not agree about monitoring mechanisms. A proposal for peer monitoring mechanisms remained in square brackets.