Submission of the IGC in taking stock of the Sharm el Sheikh meeting of the IGF
The Internet Governance Caucus (IGC) strongly supports the continuation of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) as a multi-stakeholder forum for the discussion of Internet-related public policy issues. When, as we expect, the forum's mandate is extended for a further term, there are a number of adjustments that we believe should be taken into account, continuing the IGF's pattern of incremental improvement since its inauguration in 2006.
None of these suggestions would fundamentally alter the IGF as an institution; for example, we are content that it remain formally convened by the UN Secretary General, with an independent budget and a Secretariat under contract with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA). We do not see any benefit to the IGF in moving underneath a different UN body such as the ITU.
One question on which the IGC is in clear agreement is that the composition of the Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG) itself should be more evenly divided between the stakeholder groups. Many also believe that the stakeholders should have a more direct role in the selection of MAG members, and that MAG discussions should continue to be made more transparent.
One particular aspect of the IGF's operations in which the participation of stakeholders could be improved is in setting the substantive agenda of IGF meetings. We understand that the MAG might not be rotated this year (though in our view the uncertainty about the IGF's future need not preclude that). If a rotation does not take place, care must be taken that this does not result in the programme for the Vilnius meeting being prematurely set in stone.
The IGF should also consider how to improve its orientation towards the development of tangible outputs, even if these would amount to "messages" rather than to recommendations, declarations or statements (though many of our members would also support outputs of these stronger kinds). Whatever form its outputs take, efforts should be taken to ensure that they are transmitted to relevant external institutions through appropriate mechanisms.
Similarly, attention must be given to the effectiveness of the IGF's intersessional work program, which is currently limited to open consultations, MAG meetings, dynamic coalition meetings, and loosely connected national and regional meetings. In particular, there should be a better mechanism than at present for these other groups and meetings to present their outputs to the IGF as a whole. This would require the IGF to set more stringent standards for such groups and meetings, including open membership, democratic processes, and perhaps multi-stakeholder composition.
The MAG should also organize thematic working groups to develop background material, IGF discussion synthesis etc on major themes selected to be taken up by the IGF.
We thank you for the opportunity to present you with these thoughts, which reflect a "rough consensus" of our several hundred members from civil society. We look forward to continuing to constructively engage with and participate in the IGF over the course of its renewed term.
About the IGC
The IGC is an association of individuals in civil society, with a wide spread of geographic and gender representation, who are actively engaged in internet governance and the IGF. Formed during the lead up to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), our mission is to promote global public interest objectives in Internet governance policy making. It now comprises more than 400 individual subscribers to its mailing list, who have subscribed to its Charter. More about our coalition can be found at http://www.igcaucus.org.