Message from the United Nations Secretary-General

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan

The second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), held in Tunis on 13-15 November 2005, invited me to convene a new forum for multi-stakeholder policy dialogue, called the Internet Governance Forum (IGF). The Summit asked me to convene the Forum by the second quarter of 2006 and to implement this mandate in an open and inclusive process.

The Government of Greece made the generous offer to host the first meeting of the IGF and proposed that it take place in Athens on 30 October - 2 November 2006.

I have asked my Special Adviser for Internet Governance, Mr. Nitin Desai, to assist me in the task of convening the IGF and I have also set up a small secretariat in Geneva to support this process. Two rounds of consultations open to all stakeholders held in Geneva on 16-17 February and 19 May have contributed towards a common understanding with regard to the format and content of the first IGF meeting. I have also appointed an Advisory Group with the task of assisting me in preparing the IGF meeting.

The Advisory Group held a meeting in Geneva on 22 and 23 May 2006 and made recommendations for the agenda and the programme, as well as the structure and format of the first meeting of the IGF in Athens.

As the IGF is about the Internet, it is appropriate to make use of electronic means of communication to convene its inaugural meeting. The document adopted by WSIS -- the Tunis Agenda for the Information Society -- calls on me "to extend invitations to all stakeholders and relevant parties to participate at the inaugural meeting of the IGF". Therefore, it is my pleasure to make use of the World Wide Web to invite all stakeholders -- governments, the private sector and civil society, including the academic and technical communities -- to attend the first meeting of the IGF in Athens. The overall theme of the meeting will be "Internet Governance for Development". The agenda will be structured along the following broad themes.

  • Openness - Freedom of expression, free flow of information, ideas and knowledge
  • Security - Creating trust and confidence through collaboration
  • Diversity - Promoting multilingualism and local content
  • Access - Internet Connectivity: Policy and Cost

Capacity-building will be a cross-cutting priority.

The meeting will be open for all WSIS accredited entities. Other institutions and persons with proven expertise and experience in matters related to Internet governance may also apply to attend.

In its short life, the Internet has become an agent of dramatic, even revolutionary change and maybe one of today's greatest instruments of progress. It is a marvelous tool to promote and defend freedom and to give access to information and knowledge. WSIS saw the beginning of a dialogue between two different cultures: the non-governmental Internet community, with its traditions of informal, bottom-up decision-making; and the more formal, structured world of governments and intergovernmental organizations. It is my hope that the IGF will deepen this dialogue and contribute to a better understanding of how we can make full use of the potential the Internet has to offer for all people in the world.

(Signed) Kofi A. Annan