IGF 2022 WS #66 Reassessing Government Role in IG: How to embrace Leviathan

Tuesday, 29th November, 2022 (13:15 UTC) - Tuesday, 29th November, 2022 (14:15 UTC)
Large Briefing Room

Organizer 1: Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Organizer 2: Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group

Speaker 1: Milton Mueller, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Speaker 2: Jovan Kurbalija, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Speaker 3: Wolfgang Kleinwaechter, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Additional Speakers

Anriette Esterhuysen, civil society, Association for Progressive Communications

Bu Zhong, Civil Society, Hong Kong Baptist University 


Birds of a Feather - Auditorium - 60 Min

Policy Question(s)

Inclusion, rights, and stakeholder roles and responsibilities. What are/should be the responsibilities of governments concerning Internet governance and respect for human rights, and what is needed for them to fulfill these in an efficient and effective manner? What are the evidence-based solutions available for the governments to achieve the goals? Promoting equitable development and preventing harm. How can governments make use of digital technologies to promote more equitable and peaceful societies that are inclusive, resilient, and sustainable? How can we make sure that the governments help avoid digital technologies being developed and used for harmful purposes? What values and norms should guide the development and use of technologies to enable this?

Connection with previous Messages:



Targets: 1. Seeking common understanding. Rather than ignoring contentious conversations over the disagreement about the real challenges of Internet governance, the speakers will lay out mitigation strategies to unite people with a common understanding of the root of those challenges. Specific strategies will be presented and discussed to enable the governments to initiate new conversations for seeking common ground that focuses on what we value and share, rather than defining Internet governance in narrow terms. 2. Internet access as a human right. The governments must take urgent actions to help people reach shared understanding by initiating cooperative and productive conversations around disagreement without using personal truths as the baseline of the argument. Due to the governments' inaction, there is growing resistance and disinformation surrounding Internet governance. Thus, key intervention strategies will be presented at the workshop to improve the government’s role in building healthy Internet for everyone around the globe as access to the Internet is a human right. 3. Bringing in all the voices. To make Internet governance work, it is essential that decisions are not just made by one government or two. The governments can be of big help in getting people together for a shared sustainable and common future. When no one dominates Internet governance, we begin to develop a powerful mechanism for people to work together, in which people learn to earn the agreement of fellow stakeholders and thus achieve global commitment to make Internet governance work again.


Against the backdrop of the COVID-19, the US-China and European Internet antitrust, the US-China technology war, and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, global Internet governance has entered a new phase in which governments are no longer just "one stakeholder" of "multi-stakeholder model", but has become the decisive and dominant force. As the monopolist of public power, the Leviathan of the digital age, government should obligate its responsibility without crossing the line, should play an active role while further developing the spirit and unique value of the "multi-stakeholder model". We need to reassess and discuss the role government plays in internet governance in the perspective of the new future of the Internet with new situation and new challenges, to ensure the stability and prosperity of the Internet in the next 50 years, and further benefit every country and every persons. This should also be the top priority of IGF`s future development.

Expected Outcomes

(1)recognizing the leading role of the government, the two mechanisms of government-led and multi-stakeholder models should complement each other;

(2)realizing the UN should play a more proactive role in global internet governance, the IGF should keep pace with the new development;

(3)accelerating the development of global norms of behavior in cyberspace under the leadership of the United Nations.

Hybrid Format: This workshop provides the opportunities of both virtual and in-person participation. there will be both onsite and online moderators to encourage participants to share their thoughts. Some stakeholder groups will be invited to join the discussion by the rapporteurs in the coming months. And we are planning to oragnize chat groups on wechat and whatsapp to facilitate their participations.

Online Participation


Usage of IGF Official Tool.

Session Report (* deadline 26 October) - click on the ? symbol for instructions


The workshop`s discussions are mainly about what kind of role should the government play in internet governance, what are the major changes that need to be made by the government in the new situation and figure out what should the government do, and what can`t do.

For governments` role on internet governance, we should first be aware that government is not one monolithic group in its understanding of Internet governance. Usage of the term "governments" as name for one stakeholder group is not entirely correct., we should identify which part of government or department should be responsible for this. Before that we should first understand the deal between government and citizens. governments have to deliver on this basic social contract. They have to ensure security of citizens, flourishing society economically, politically, socially, we should return to common sense and the role of the government and many questions will be simply answered. Lao Tzu once argued that if governments followed the principle of wu‐wei (non‐action), social and economic harmony would naturally emerge and people would prosper.

As digital technology continues to be deeply involved in daily life, the government, which has a monopoly on public power, will undoubtedly need to play a more active and critical role, otherwise, the order will be unsustainable. While at the same time, as seen in events such as the tech conflict and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the powerful power of government will also have a more destructive effect if it is not restrained.

We shouldn’t overcomplicate the questions and answers, the role of government is primarily to create an environment for internet development. At the same time promote and respect human rights. Governments may have overreach, it is their duty to address harms but not necessarily by regulating the internet. big countries are in a situation where they not trying to accept that there are differences and build more commonality and establish common ground.

Major source of disorder in cyberspace today is actually coming from government. one of the most important things that government can do in the current role is to leave, certain forms of global governance that require global compatibility, to the private sector. Government can foster an open and competitive market in internet service and cloud and software. They can prosecute effectively cyber criminals, which means that they have to cooperate and harmonize their rules with other governments. Government should stop trying so hard to control content, should allow end to end encryption to protect the privacy and confidentiality of users on the internet.

Some governments think consulting with stakeholders is already multistakeholder, consultation is not really a multi stakeholder approach, multi stakeholder approach goes far beyond consultation with other stakeholders. Regulatory intervention needs to proportional, feasible, and designed to fulfil a legitimate purpose.

Big players like US, China, Europe and India. should talk to one another, to bring other stakeholders into the conversations and instead of every big player developing its own set of principles, its own declaration for the future of the Internet., they should work together. They need to get together and recommit to free trade and internet services, and to de-securitization or to the pacification of Internet Governance among them.

It won't be an easy process will need a lot of diplomacy will need a lot of listening, we need to compromise and delicate tradeoffs. All views should be taken around the table, and only in that way. We will ensure the future of this great, great network and great human result of human creativity as the internet is. we need a new quality of interaction between the various stakeholders.

Proposal for global digital company, government leaderships and United Nations should identify the issues, and then to create multi stakeholder drafting teams, and then to draft could go in the final stage to the government's and because the United Nations is intergovernmental body, and then governments have to adopt it. But it should not be left in the hand of the governments.

There is a need for new fundamental theories to structure a new theoretical system of global internet governance; IGF, WSIS, GGE, and G20 and other mechanisms should play a better role, and also there is a need to have more in-depth communication mechanisms; the interdisciplinary academic community should play a more active role, The scientific community is the creator of the Internet and also the best guardian of cyberspace.