Dalia Zaki, Programme Assistant, UNDP, Egypt
Tracy Hackshaw, Internet Society (ISOC) Ambassador, Trinidad & Tobago
In recent years, developing countries, civil society organizations, and concerned academics have sought to promote broad development agendas in the international institutions and policy debates dealing with such issues as trade, debt, and intellectual property. But in the field of Internet Governance, such parallel initiatives have yet to take shape in adequate numbers and frequencies. Accordingly, the purpose of this workshop session was to begin a multistakeholder dialogue on the nature of a possible development agenda in Internet Governance.
A interesting cross-section of the IG community was in attendance including representation from the Ministry of Communications & Information Technology in Egypt, the Department of Information Technology from the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names & Numbers (ICANN), the Directorate of e-Government in Kenya, the Commonwealth Secretariat/DiploFoundation and Interliaise from the Netherlands.
The Workshop, coming as it did, immediately following the Special Honarary Session with First Lady Mubarak was forced to take a different format. The panelists decided to organize more of a roundtable setting with full interaction facilitated by Mr. Hackshaw and Ms. Zaki.
Ms. Zaki introduced the session by pointing out that in order for Global Capacity Building in the area of IG to be successful, key public policy issues need to be examined in the areas of:
1. Infrastructure and Management of Critical Internet Resources
2. Privacy & Security
3. New Economic models/e-Commerce
4. Networks – linking telecentres
5. Video & Visual methods of knowledge transfer
6. Training the Trainers
7. United Nations organisational support
Mr. Hackshaw added to this list, observing, that further, perhaps non-traditional areas were in dire need of support and exploration including:
1. Relevance & Localization of Content
2. Mobile & the emergence of significantly high levels of mobile penetration in the developing world
3. Digital Convergence
4. Youth, Gender & the Environment
With the above in mind, the following questions needed to be answered:
(a) Which of the many issues involved in Internet Governance should be given priority in the near-term?
(b) Could new approaches to these individual issues collectively constitute a holistic and coherent development agenda, and what would be the benefits and risks of pursuing such a framework?
(c) How can these concerns best be taken forward within the distributed array of governmental, intergovernmental, private sector, and multistakeholder governance mechanisms?
As the roundtable discussions moved forward, the following key points emerged in response to the posed questions:
1. Even if IG or ICT standards or policies are developed, which body will ensure that they are enforced? Mr. Hackshaw referenced ISOC’s Internet Ecosystem (PDF
) in providing a snapshot of the various actors involved in IG
2. Training and capacity building were urgently needed in the area of Cybersecurity.
3. It was stressed that capacity training and not just training was what was required in the developing world i.e. focusing on materials dealing with traditional media and new media.
4. Where will the budget and funding for the expansive requirement for Capacity building come from? Top down? Bottom Up?
5. In the developing world, ICT and IG issues are not necessarily aligned with national priorities such as a clean and regular supply of water, affordable and adequate health care, etc. Any capacity building effort must take into account the different needs and priorities of different countries – a “catch-all” solution is highly unlikely to be sufficient
6. Related to the points raised above, it was noted that ICT and IG issues did not currently form a visible part of the United Nations’ Millenium Development Goals. To this end, it is extremely difficult to (a) obtain/raise national or governmental support and funding for ICT/IG issues and (2) obtain external multi-lateral funding for same
So, how do we take this approach forward? At the conclusion, there was a significant perception that a fully participative multi-stakeholder approach including Civil Society, Faith-based organisations, Business, Government representatives and Academia somewhat akin to the concept of IGF itself was required. Whether this approach is meant to drill down to the local or even grassroots levels remains a great unanswered question