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The session began with a presentation by Ms Chat García Ramilo, Executive Director, Association for the Progress of Communications (APC). García Ramilo indicated that APC has been coordinating reports for 10 years with the support of many other partners. The purpose of these publications is to learn about and disseminate knowledge about the state of development of the information society, based on the vision of civil society actors.
She also said that every year different topics are chosen, such as surveillance, women's rights, and sustainable development, among others. García Ramilo said that the writers on these topics are a community of civil society authors from different countries and with different backgrounds. Currently there are more than 600 authors who have written 114 reports over 10 years. ‘I have here the different colours of this watch,’ Garcia Ramilo said, and invited those interested to visit the GISWatch website and read the reports.
Referring to the latest report, she said that this edition was about National and Regional Initiatives on Internet Governance (NRIs) and gathers reports from 40 countries and 7 regions, written by 70 authors. Each of the reports reflect a different story about how initiatives have been developed, and how the principles of the multistakeholder model at the local and regional level have been complied with. In terms of content, there are many viewpoints, exploring both successes and failures, and also the future of this type of initiative.
Mr Markus Kummer, Chair, Internet Governance Forum for IGFSA, was invited to comment on the publication. Kummer referred to some unintended consequences, but indicated that in the case of the Internet Governance Forum these were generally positive. ‘I once heard the saying that good Internet Governance begins at home, and I think this hits the nail on the head’, he said, talking about the NRIs.
Kummer also said that in early 2010, it was concluded that Internet Governance could not have a single model for all initiatives because countries and regions are different. However, consensus was reached that all these initiatives should comply with the core principles of the multistakeholder model: an open, inclusive, bottom-up approach. These core principles have been addressed in different ways in countries with NRIs.
In introducing the current report, Kummer indicated that during the years of evolution of the NRIs, he has seen them as having a great impact not only at the local level, but also at regional level, and even globally. It is anticipated that in the future, the relationship between all these levels will be closer, despite the different priorities of each country and each region.
Ms Deborah Brown, Global Policy Advocacy Lead, APC, added that along with the report, other smaller reports have been added on specific topics. The majority are related to the NRIs, on their impact and relevance in local and regional ecosystems, but also include other topics such as gender, and community networks. The aim was to offer a view as diverse and at the time as inclusive as possible, so that readers could learn about the issues and become more involved with Internet Governance.
The floor was given over to some of the authors so that they could comment briefly on their experience of writing each of the reports. NRI authors from Canada, Colombia, Panama, and Cameroon, among others, expressed different ideas related to the challenges of defining the governance processes in their countries and regions. Some mentioned the lack of resources, while others indicated problems of local ecosystems needing to adapt to the multistakeholder model. Difficulties with the level of interest in society, and the lack of transparency were also mentioned.
The session ended with an invitation from Ms García Ramilo to review the report, which has been published on the APC website, and to debate around the issues it addresses.
By Carlos Guerrero