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IGF 2011: HUMAN RIGHTS AND GOVERNANCE FOR DEVELOPMENT #IGF11 MAIN SESSION

The Internet Governance for Development (IG4D) main session was an informative meeting chaired by Laurent Elder, from the International Development Research Center, with Mr. Ben Akoh, Project Manager for the International Institute for Sustainable Development, and Ms. Olga Cavalli, Advisor for Technology at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Argentina, as moderators. Panelists included Mr.William Drake, International Fellow in the media change and innovation division at the University of Zurich; Mr. Dimitri Diliani, head of Nokia Siemens Networks African region; Ms Joy Liddicoat, APC Coordinator for Internet and human rights projects; Mr. Romulo Neves, official of the Government of Brazil; Mr. Katim Touray, member of ICANN board; and Mr. Khaled Fourati, from the International Development Research Center.

The key purpose of the session was to identify specific global Internet governance issues that were relevant to development. Mr. Drake aptly described IG4D as an analytical process involving multistakeholders with the key objectives of: (i) capacity building – making it systematically available and attuned to developing country needs; (ii) participation - removal of institutional procedures and informal barriers that inhibit participation by developing countries; and (iii) policy – identifying how policy outcomes impact on development.

In my mind, Mr. Romulo Neves placed the discussion it its right context by clarifying that there are a variety of multistakeholders that have a vested interest in Internet Governance and the 3 key objectives identified by Mr. Drake. These include governments and civil society groups of both developed and developing countries, which may vary widely in terms of democratic participation; and then the interveners, providers and technocrats. This diversity of views, which are often at odds, result in technical, political and governance issues that are directly impacted by money, power, and public interests. As a result, we have the continuation of inequalities with reference to developing countries impact on Internet Governance issues and access to critical Internet resources.

I agree with Ms. Joy Liddicoat that there is a strong correlation between human rights and Internet Governance and that a sustainable governance platform for the Internet must be based on the recognition of the fundamental human rights of all multistakeholders. This is a prerequisite for removing the present inequalities in Internet Governance and creating a new model of governance that: (a) brings equity to the management of critical Internet resources, (b) addresses the current economic model for Internet access which places a disproportionate burden on developing countries, and (c) address the global regulation of IPRs which directly affects development. As Mr. Katim Touray stated, there must be a moral imperative to Internet Governance.

An excellent suggestion made by Mr. Touray was the strengthening of south-south cooperation in the Internet governance domain by developing countries. This collaboration would be very effective in narrowing the differences that may exist regarding IGF issues and strengthening the position of developing countries on commonly held issues which could then be presented as a block. This would be an effective way to begin to counter the money and power interests and bring to the fore those key issues that will spur development and narrow the inequality gap.

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