Statement to UN consultation on Enhanced Cooperation 15 November 2010
The Civil Society Internet Governance Caucus (CS-IGC) regards the process towards enhanced cooperation as a vital step towards addressing the "many cross-cutting international public policy issues that require attention and are not adequately addressed by the current mechanisms" (Tunis Agenda para 68).
Despite a mandate from WSIS to address this governance deficit, and even recognizing that some steps have been taken towards Enhanced Cooperation, much remains to be done. It is imperative that this deficit continue to be addressed through the existing institutions, and where appropriate through new institutional developments that comply with the accepted process criteria of being open, accountable, transparent, democratic and inclusive.
It is now especially critical that the global community give renewed attention to these principles, at a time when we see danger of them being forgotten - for example, in that a proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement that will affect Internet users around the world (including the most marginalized), has been shaped almost entirely by powerful corporate and state actors from the global North.
We make three further points. First, enhanced cooperation should encompass all Internet-related public policy issues; second, many of our members believe the existing arrangements of relevant organisations (including the Internet Governance Forum) do not fully implement enhanced cooperation, and thirdly whatever new arrangements may be put in place, civil society must play an integral part in them, as one of the prerequisites for their legitimacy.
These points will be explained in turn:
Although much of the discussion of enhanced cooperation at WSIS turned around the narrow issue of internationalising the oversight of critical Internet resource administration, the Tunis Agenda expresses this principle far more broadly to include other substantive Internet related public policy issues that require attention and resolution at all levels, particularly the global level. It also reminds us that the ultimate objective of our cooperation is to advance a people-centred, inclusive, development-oriented and non-discriminatory Information Society.
This is not to say that the broadening of oversight of critical Internet resource administration is not an important issue - it is, and CS-IGC members are among many who strongly consider the continuing supervisory role of the US government to be inappropriate for a truly global resource such as the Internet. But this is only one of many important public policy issues on which enhanced cooperation is needed.
The IGF in its present form is a very important part of the broader enhanced cooperation process, in that its multi-stakeholder process can provide input to shape decisions taken on Internet related public policy issues in other fora. However the full realisation of enhanced cooperation will require a multi-stakeholder process to extend to all other Internet governance organisations, whether new or established.
There are various options for enhancing multi-stakeholder cooperation within and amongst all relevant organisations (which may be complementary). These include:
- making no institutional changes but encouraging organisations to enhance their own cooperation with other stakeholders, to take full advantage of the IGF, and to report to the CSTD on their progress;
- establishing a lightweight multi-stakeholder observatory process perhaps hosted under the auspices of the IGF (pursuant to its mandate in paragraph 72(i));
- utilising a virtual and voluntary global social community or ecosystem, linking together all Internet governance organisations, in which all stakeholders would participate; or
- establishing new governance arrangements designed to address any pressing public policy matters that cannot be managed through existing institutions, with space for the full participation of each stakeholder group (perhaps on the model of the OECD's Information, Computer and Communications Policy Committee).
- Paragraph 71 of the Tunis Agenda makes very clear that civil society is an integral participant in the development of any process towards enhanced cooperation. Therefore the IGC, in our capacity as members of civil society, looks forward to contributing constructively in transparent, accountable and democratic multi-stakeholder consultations towards this end.