Welcome to the United Nations | Department of Economic and Social Affairs

IGF Consultations Full Transcript


 13 May 2009

 Note: The following is the output of the real-time captioning taken during the 13 May 2009 open consultations of the IGF. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the session, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.

 [ Gavel. ]

 >>CHAIR DESAI:   Good morning.  Welcome.  Let me first apologize for being late.  I was trying to sort out some logistical issues about rooms, et cetera, but failed to sort it all out, because there are too many meetings going on in Geneva right now.

 Let's begin.  I'm very happy to start these open consultations.  This time, we have a newly constituted Multistakeholder Advisory Group, and the members of this group are present here to listen to these consultations.  And I'm very happy that this has been done and I want to thank the secretariat and, of course, the -- New York and the Secretary General's office for getting all of this organized.  We have two things basically that we have to talk about today.  One is the organization of the meeting in Sharm El Sheikh.  And the second is the review process, the IGF review process.

 May I suggest that we begin with the first, see how that goes.  We have already had some discussions on this when we met in February.  And then see how we can leave enough time for a substantial discussion on the second part, which is the IGF review process, on which, undoubtedly, many of you will wish to contribute.

 If that is agreeable, then I would like to begin the session straightaway with the discussion of the program and agenda of the Sharm El Sheikh meeting.

 We have had a paper on this before with us through the Internet for some time.  But I'm going to request Markus to perhaps just walk us through that and frame the issues so that we can have our discussions.


 >>SECRETARY KUMMER:   Thank you, Chairman.

 In preparation for the meeting, we have received comments on the program paper, seven comments all in all.  And from these comments, there are some common threads that emerged in the first phase of the process.

 In general, you will recall the innovations we introduced in Hyderabad were well received, but there was also a notion that there was room for improvement in some areas, and including the following, but they're not limited to the following, that is, the involvement of young people, gender balance, geographical balance, the linkages between the main sessions and the other events, as well as remote participation.

 It was also pointed out that the cross-cutting themes of development and capacity-building had been somewhat neglected and that more attention should be paid to these issues.  And a new notion that came up was that it was felt that some of the issues had progressed to the point they should now be dealt with in other formats, and roundtables were mentioned as one of these formats.

 Now, from the comments that we have received, it was also clear that there was a need to discuss this further.  And there are many questions related to the use and format of roundtable discussion.

 As currently planned and mentioned in the program paper, these sessions could be held in a room set up for a large-scale roundtable discussion which could be moderated with participants taking part as equals.

 The meetings would be open to both participation and observation.  And three possible uses for roundtable sessions have been given.  One, issues where there is reasonable chance of participants agreeing to take action together.  Or issues which would benefit from comparing and contrasting approaches and best practices that have been successful or provide good lessons learned.  Or, lastly, on sharing and discussing best practices, challenges, and solutions, various needs, and also maybe recommendations.

 Issues related to this format include the empowerment and protection of children online, but also -- and also the accessibility for people with disabilities.

 One possible way forward that was mentioned, that the respective dynamic coalitions could be asked to help prepare these roundtables.  There was also a general notion emerging that due care should be taken to ensure a reasonable balance of stakeholders' viewpoints that should be achieved.

 I wonder whether we cannot also briefly walk through the list of workshops we received.

 >>CHAIR DESAI:   Sure.

 >>SECRETARY KUMMER:   As it is closely related.

 As you will also recall, that we had agreed last February to not ask for fully fledged workshop proposals, but more workshop sketches, themes, ideas.  The reasoning behind it was that last -- in the previous years, it proved very difficult once people had advanced very much in their planning, had already asked people, possible panelists, and they were very much embedded with their workshops and did not want to merge.  So this year, we asked for themes rather than elaborate proposals, with the idea that it would be easier to merge similar proposals in a very early stage.

 The deadline we had set was 21st of April.  And we received within the deadline around 120 proposals, which is 20% more than we had last year.

 We asked the proponents to choose the category.  We said the main IGF themes:  Access, security, diversity, and so on, including the cross-cutting priorities of capacity-building and development.

 Some of these categories may be rather arbitrary, and it can be discussed whether a proposal could be here or there.  But we tried to make sure that we were consistent with previous use of these categories.  So, for instance, accessibility for people with disabilities could be argued it could be classified under "access," but in the past, we had dealt with this theme under "diversity."  So we tried to stick to those.

 And we asked some workshops to be reclassified.  And when going through the list, there may be a need for others to be put under another heading.

 Let me briefly go through the various categories.  Under "Access," we have 17 proposals; under "Diversity," six; "Openness," there are 20 proposals; on "Security," 23; on "Critical Internet Resources," 18;  And on the cross-cutting themes, "Development," there are 15, and "Capacity-Building," 21.

 We have also listed other proposals under "other events," they're not strictly speaking workshop proposals.  They are Best-practice forums.  They are dynamic coalition meetings.  We had not asked for them to be submitted by the same deadline, but we thought, for transparency's sake, we list them nevertheless at this stage.  But there will be more of this kind of event will come forward, especially also the dynamic coalition.

 Then looking through the proposals more in details, there are certain clusters emerging.  And that may also indicate where stakeholders feel a priority.  Under "access," we could say a cluster of about eight workshops deals with connectivity, but also the economic crisis and the broadband rollout as a means to stimulate economic growth and to fight the crisis.

 Two proposals under "Access" are with mobile access.

 On the "Critical Internet Resources," we have eight dealing with transition from IPv4 to IPv6 and six dealing with either ccTLDs or new gTLDs.  And then there are two more that deal with critical Internet resources in a more general way.

 Under "Diversity," we get a very strong regional flavor.  There are six proposals dealing with Arab language issues, another five proposals deal with local languages and knowledge, there's one proposal dealing with disabilities, and two proposals dealing with IDNs.

 And there is one which deals with diversity in terms of gender, applying a gender lens to the Internet and citizenship.

 Under "Openness," we have seven proposals dealing with intellectual property issues, eight proposals dealing with principles and rights, and seven with openness in more general terms.

 Having said that, I counted also some of these proposals that are, in the present classification, classified under "other issues," such as access.  But we read it more as openness.

 Security, then, we find strong, again, a very, very strong interest on child protection or child empowerment, 16 in total dealing with issues related to the protection of children.  However, again, eight of these have been listed under capacity-building.


 And 13 proposals are dealing with cybercrime and security.  And six proposals with privacy and data protection.

 And on the capacity-building, we have two that deal in general terms with education, online education and so on, nine that deal with tutorials, capacity-building in a more -- narrower sense related to Internet governance, and four, finally, dealing with capacity-building in a more general sense.

 Lastly, under "development," we have three proposals dealing with I.T. and environment, three the sustainable development, and three in more general terms and also regional terms with development.

 On the "other events," I will not go too much into details.  They, again, deal with various of these themes we had.  There is also a proposal for a roundtable on sustainable development.  The role of the Internet in climate change and other environmental issues has been classified under "development."

 I think I will stop at that.  Thank you.

 >>CHAIR DESAI:   Who is going to take the floor?  On -- yes, Adam.

 >>ADAM PEAKE:   Good morning, Mr. Chairman.  Good morning, everybody.  Adam Peake from Glocom in Tokyo.

 I sent a contribution to the IGF Web site responding to the current draft of the program document making a suggestion that a roundtable be given over to national and regional IGFs so that they could discuss their various issues.

 I think there's broad agreement that these regional and national meetings have been a great success from the IGF process to date.  And the roundtable format would be a great opportunity to share knowledge and experiences and general expertise and the challenges that each are trying to -- well, each are facing and each are trying to overcome.

 And so it's really that I hope the MAG will consider this proposal during their deliberations and see if we can have a roundtable meeting that is made available for regional and national IGF organizers and participants.

 Thank you.

 >>CHAIR DESAI:   I saw a reference in the note to a session for national/regional meetings.

 Would you like to clarify that, what it was they were talking about?

 >>SECRETARY KUMMER:   Yes.  We had planned a session right at the beginning.  But I think you are talking about something different, to have a different format where the national and regional IGFs could interact with each other and develop their initiatives further?

 >>ADAM PEAKE:   Exactly.

 >>CHAIR DESAI:   Yes, Adam.

 >>ADAM PEAKE:   Exactly.  There's a reporting-in session, I think it's noted, for the first day.  But rather than simply reporting to the whole community, that the people who are organizing these meetings can essentially share with each other what their experiences are.  I think there will be common experiences, common challenges, and probably common solutions that they can learn from.

 And it's -- I think it's -- they are in and of themselves the national and regional activities are in and of themselves something that we should try to take forward as a success of the IGF and encourage them -- encourage their development for future years.  And perhaps the roundtable would be a good means to do that.

 >>CHAIR DESAI:   (No audio.)

 >>FRANCE:  Yeah, thank you. 

 I'm Bertrand de la Chapelle, from France.

 Just a follow-up on what Adam was saying.

 Actually, at the Hyderabad meeting, there was an agreement among the organizers of the national -- of most of the national and regional IGFs to set up a dynamic coalition to get them together and grow the IGF network.  And I think that it is the intention of the participants to organize a meeting of the dynamic coalition that would have basically the purpose that Adam proposed.

 So this is the reason why, as there were two different processes, we didn't put forward a proposal for a workshop, as we intended to have, in any case, a dynamic coalition meeting then.

 >>CHAIR DESAI:   (No audio.)

 >>IGC: (No audio) -- Internet Governance Caucus.

 I would like to commend Adam and Bertrand for that idea.  But I would like to suggest that we also include the IGF remote hubs.  There will be quite a number of them this year.  And if they could somehow work together to include those that can't actually physically be present, that would be a good idea, as well as on the remote participation.

 Thank you.

 >>CHAIR DESAI:   George Papadatos.

 >>GEORGE PAPADATOS:   Thank you, Chair, and good morning.

 Regarding the themes approach in the further clustering of having all the similar themes put together, I would like to ask Mr. Kummer, how is this envisaged?  Are they supposed to put forward abstracts?  Are they committed to the theme?  How is this going to take place?  And do you foresee any difficulties?  If you could elaborate on that.  Thank you.

 >>CHAIR DESAI:   Markus.

 >>SECRETARY KUMMER:   Yes.  Thank you.  This is an excellent question.

 And I don't have the answer to this question.  I think this is very much something we need to discuss.  I mean, this was just done for purposes of classification, to see where we do have a strong interest.  And the fact that we have 16 proposals dealing with the protection of children seems to indicate there is a very strong interest in this particular issue.  And there are other issues as well.

 We had mentioned before the protection of children could be one of these issues, where we develop a roundtable format, that is, we lock all these people into a room, allow others to participate with them, and let them discuss and come out maybe with some concrete idea, some concrete proposals, with a catalogue of best practices, whatever they find would be most useful to further the cause.

 But there was a general notion that yet another ten workshops on the same issue may not be the appropriate way forward.

 I think the clustering helps, first and foremost, to see where we have issues with very strong interest amongst stakeholders.


 >>IGC:   Yes.  Thank you.  And this time I am speaking for the Internet governance caucus.

 As long as our colleague has brought up the issue of themes, I know that while child safety, of course, is extremely important and will be a priority, we have also noticed that rights and principles in the Internet is also a theme that has workshop proposals, has generated a lot of interest.  And I would like to read a statement for -- a very short statement for the Internet Governance Caucus.

 The Internet Governance Caucus notes the statement from the program paper, quote, "Some favored the inclusion of Internet rights and principles as a cross-cutting theme," end quote.

 This concurs with the widespread support for this concept from various stakeholder groups at the February open consultations.  However, we are concerned at the decision to exclude it as a theme this year on the grounds that there is, I quote, "No established definition of this theme, and that, therefore, it should not be discussed at the Sharm El Sheikh meeting," end quote.

 We at the IGC are surprised by this reasoning for exclusion and request that the MAG revisit this subject, given the wide support which has been expressed.  Given that these matters are specifically contained in the Tunis Agenda, paragraphs 70 and 42, we do not see lack of definition as a reason for exclusion.  However, if it is not possible to include this concept until it is defined within the IGF, we ask that the IGF 2009 include a prominent plenary space to establish this definition in preparation for more comprehensive discussions in future debates and meetings.

 Thank you.

 >>CHAIR DESAI:   The program paper does not propose that.  It just reports that some people said that.  It is not a proposal.  It is simply a reporting.  And let's discuss it.  There's nothing -- we are here to decide these things now.  But there is -- I don't read the program paper as saying that this is a proposal, but simply as some people felt this, some people felt that.  That's it.

 Maybe people wish to comment on -- start commenting now.  Let us not get too caught up in the workshops, because we have the agenda on the main meeting, including themes.


 >>ICC-BASIS:   Thank You, Chairman.  On behalf of the members of the International Chamber of Commerce and Business Action to Support the Information Society, and ICC initiative, I'm pleased to provide some additional comments.  As you know and as the secretariat has wonderfully captured, we did provide written comments, so I won't repeat what was already captured in the program paper.

 Looking at the schedule, I'd like to suggest that on Sunday, the 15th of November, where there is the "Setting the Scene" session, which we think is going to be very useful, particularly for new participants, that we keep in mind that that might be an area where, in fact, some parallel workshops would be useful as well, because not everybody will need to be in the "Setting the Scene" session.

 In general, we have consistently requested a minimal number of conflicting events so that people can truly take advantage of what's happening in the main hall.  In this respect, we would just put that idea forward as well.

 On the national and regional meetings, I've heard, you know, inputs and written contributions about how that would be done.  Some have referred to it as a reporting session.

 We believe that the national and regional initiatives are an incredible success and have been increasing in the past year.  And Sharm El Sheikh is an important opportunity to highlight what those initiatives are about, how they're structured, the kind of outreach that they're accomplishing.  Just in terms of creating useful momentum in the day, we would suggest that they not just be reporting sessions, but also allow for interaction, because that's how some of the participants will be able to learn more about the initiatives and go on to replicate in their own settings.

 In the afternoon, the opening ceremony session is generally a more formal session, and so following that by a keynote panel session, again, in order to keep the momentum going for the day and keep people engaged, we would suggest that the keynote panel session be shaped in a way that will engage the audience as well and have interaction among a group of people on the panel instead of perhaps having too small a group up there and having people spend the afternoon with, basically, people talking to them instead of having an opportunity to engage.

 In addition, on the keynote panel, we would note that a diversity of views will be important, so we carry through the multistakeholder viewpoint and perspectives that we are having throughout the program.

 A couple of comments on the workshops in brief.  I'll have additional input on those in more detail.  First of all, I think that the early posting and the new process that has been used this year is welcomed and has given us all an early opportunity to see what topics people are interested in working on and contributing to sessions or workshops at the IGF this year.  So we think -- we welcome that effort and thank the secretariat for the effort to pull all of that together.

 There are groups of topics that clearly can be merged or would be better served for the various angles that people have proposed in their workshop proposals by a broader discussion among a range of the organizers and other experts.  So we would encourage looking into that.

 Also, as we have consistently said, the balance in terms of the number of side workshops and other kinds of events should be considered carefully in order to make sure that the main session rooms are well attended and there's good participation across the board in the events going on.

 We would also suggest that, as was done last year, some of the workshop proposals may fit nicely into main sessions.  And giving the organizers an opportunity to do a side event or to participate in organizing main sessions along with the MAG in the open consultations and the secretariat would be a useful option this year.  Again, we'd also just like to note that there are a number of new organizers who have put forward proposals.  And this is welcomed.  This is excellent.  We support an equilibrium between repeat organizers and new organizers, and also perhaps giving an opportunity for entities that have put forward several proposals to make a choice or merge some of their workshops would be a useful way forward.

 Thank you.