Regional engagement in internet governance: Discussing multistakeholder partnerships for participation

15 Jun 2017 13:15h - 14:00h

Event report

[Read more session reports from WSIS Forum 2017]

The session mapped regional Internet governance that brings in underserved regions and suggested mechanisms to correct imbalances or deal with challenges which do not allow this engagement to happen.

The Arab Internet governance process was presented by Ms Mirna EL-Hajj Barbar (ICT Officer, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA)). Based on the Arab Roadmap for Internet Governance which was produced by the ESCWA, there was a community call to form the Arab Internet Governance Forum (Arab IGF). Barbar explained that the Arab Internet Governance Forum (IGF), which replicates the global IGF, is a multistakeholder platform for open dialogue on regional Internet issues. The main components of the Arab IGF are (1) Umbrella organisations (the ESCWA and the Arab League), 2) Arab IGF secretariats – the umbrella organisations with the secretariats constitute the executive bureau of joint coordination; and (3) Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG) representing all the stakeholders. She added that activities are organised on an annual basis in cooperation with the host organisations which are selected in cooperation with the bureau of joint coordination. At the end of the annual forum, the chairman’s summary report is produced alongside a set of recommendations (strategic messages) which are sent to the Arab ICT ministries who consider whether to incorporate them into their strategies. After the first (four year) mandate of the Arab IGF, the forum was concluded with the launch of the 2020 initiative which has two objectives: (1) to propose recommendations for the improvement of the second mandate of the Arab IGF; and (2) to assess the Internet governance policies and challenges in the Arab region and produce version 2.0 of the roadmap on Internet governance.

Ms Zeina Bou Harb (Ogero Telecom) highlighted the role of Lebanon in the Arab regional IGF initiative and the meeting hosted by Ogero in 2015, and announced the launch of the Lebanese national IGF that will hold its first meeting this December.

Two initiatives from Asia Pacific were introduced by Ms Jennifer Chung (Director of Corporate Knowledge, Dot.Asia). The first initiative is the NetMission Ambassadors Program which is a youth engagement programme that brings young people to the Internet governance dialogue. It aims to empower young voices, give them an informed perspective, and allow them to participate and provide substantial constructive input to the policy dialogue. Every year, 20-25 university students participate, receive training, and work on their own projects, and take part in the regional and global IGFs. Chung noted that some of the participants in the NetMission are now active in the Internet governance ecosystem; one of the participants from the first class is part of the IGF MAG. The second initiative is the Asia Pacific Regional IGF (APrIGF) which has an overarching theme of ensuring an inclusive and sustainable development in the Asia Pacific. It is meant to provide space for discussion and collaboration at the regional level, and encourage coordination at the global level. This year Dot.Asia are piloting, in conjunction with the regional forum, an Asia Pacific legislation roundtable which is a forum to facilitate collaboration and knowledge sharing among legislators. It seeks to connect policymakers with the relevant stakeholders since they are responsible for drafting legislation and regulations.

Experience from Latin America was presented by Ms Renata Aquino Ribeiro (E. I. Researcher) who is also a participant in the Brazil IGF. She refuted the idea that most regions are well represented and local needs are well defined. Brazil, for example, has some regions that are ranked the lowest in the human development index, such as Amazon, and hence are poorly represented in the Internet governance dialogue where mostly countries with better human development are active. Ribeiro put forward the question of the engagement of these communities in the Internet governance process. She explained that in Brazil, they organise themselves in groups to bring Internet policy discourse (i.e., WSIS and IGF dialogue) to the local regions. They also use creative commons, social media, and various sharing tools to outreach local communities and represent more regional groups.  They stay tuned to developments and work hard to communicate them to local communities. She further noted that they seek to learn from each other and to learn from other regions as well. It is about diversity, she concluded.


by Noha Fathy