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"A Step Towards Meaningful Participation": Internet Governance Forum/Michael Gurstein and All

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  • Janet Feldman
    Dear Michael, Franz, and All, I saw this article and thought of how and why we first met , Michael! For all, this is a good article about the progress and
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 13, 2009
      Dear Michael, Franz, and All,
      I saw this article and thought of how and why we first "met", Michael!  For all, this is a good article about the progress and remaining challenges of full representation and participation by peoples and countries worldwide in Internet use, policy-making, and governance. 
      How to make this a more accessible and equitable aspect of development is one of the greatest issues of our time. Hopefully, with the help of some savvy Global Villagers here and elsewhere, we will at least get our feet on the road, and have our eyes firmly fixed on building a superhighway with "upramps" for all!
      With thanks for your invaluable work and very best wishes, Janet

      A Step Towards Meaningful Participation

      April 10, 2009

      A Step Towards Meaningful Participation
      By Adam Peake, GLOCOM Executive Research Fellow

      Now in the fourth year of its initial five-year mandate, the Internet
      Governance Forum (IGF) is established as an important arena for
      international multi-stakeholder dialogue about policy issues affecting
      the Internet's management, development and deployment. However, an area
      where it has failed to perform as well as hoped has been attracting the
      interest and participation of stakeholders from developing countries.
      With limited knowledge of the issues and discussions, developing
      countries have too often been under-represented in the global arenas
      where Internet policies are developed, and also unable to contribute
      fully to the dialogue at the IGF.

      Enabling the meaningful participation of developing country partners in
      the formation of global Internet policy has long been identified as an
      important priority in achieving an equitable and accessible Information
      Society. Many of the rules and norms of global information society are
      being created in forums and processes discussing policies related to the
      Internet and ICTs, and it is important that all should have the
      opportunity to shape and influence the direction of these discussions.
      With this challenge in mind, in 2008 a regional IGF process in East
      Africa brought together participants from Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and
      Kenya to identify, explore and build consensus around common policy
      priorities. Each country began with an online discussion to identify the
      Internet policy issues most important to them, followed by a
      face-to-face national IGF meeting. These multi-stakeholder national
      processes then fed into the East African Internet Governance Forum
      (EA-IGF) held over three days in Nairobi, Kenya. The outcomes of the
      regional forum were then presented and discussed at the 2008 IGF meeting
      in Hyderabad.
      I was fortunate to be able to help with the organization of the 2008
      EA-IGF, and hope to continue to work with colleagues from what will be
      five countries –Burundi asked to join the process– on the EA-IGF
      initiative this year.
      Contributing to this process is a continuation of work GLOCOM began when
      we participated in the G8 Digital Opportunity Task Force (DOT Force)
      where our focus was on recommendations to ensure universal participation
      in international policy and technical issues raised by ICT and the
      Internet. We knew at the time that participation had to mean more than
      simply attending meetings and being in the room where Internet and ICT
      issues were being discussed; developing country stakeholders had to be
      able to identify issues important to them, bring those issues to
      international processes and have the results contribute to local
      strategies and policies.
      However, in the seven years since DOT Force made its recommendations,
      little progress had been made in achieving the goal of "meaningful"
      participation. Developing countries are still too often
      under-represented and unable to contribute fully and effectively in the
      formation of Internet and ICT policies, even in the IGF.
      National and regional initiatives around the IGF themes and process
      provide an opportunity to build a local foundation from which to
      contribute and participate. The multi-stakeholder model developed in
      East Africa of online discussions, followed by national meetings,
      culminating in a regional process provides a framework for sharing
      knowledge, experience and expertise, whether local, national, regional
      or global.
      Goals of the 2008 EA-IGF process:

      * Raise awareness of Internet Governance among policy makers and
      stakeholders in the East African Region
      * Establish which Internet Governance issues are relevant to the
      countries of the region
      * Build consensus and national and regional positions around relevant
      Internet Governance issues
      * Share the outcomes of the regional forum with IGF Hyderabad 2008

      And priority areas identified by the 2008 national and regional processes:

      * Connectivity and infrastructure development
      * Access including issues of local content development
      * Representation, inclusiveness and participation through fostering
      collaboration of all national and regional stakeholders
      * Capacity building to promote skills growth and general awareness
      * Policies for the development of local content
      * Development of legislative frameworks for information society
      * Cyber-security and setting up national and regional Computer Emergency
      Response Team (CERT)/Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT)
      * Critical Internet resources, the transition to IPv6, ccTLDs, new gTLDs
      and IDNs.

      These priority issues were shared with global partners in discussions at
      the 2008 IGF in Hyderabad, and are now the subject of ongoing
      discussions at the national level as the five East Africa countries
      (Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi and Uganda) identify needs, assess
      progress and develop common positions on an ongoing basis, and continue
      the regional EA-IGF process in 2009.
      While the global IGF was established as a non-binding forum and finds it
      difficult to directly influence policy, the processes in East Africa
      have no such restrictions. We are beginning to see outcomes relating to
      the harmonization of ICT policy in the region and more specific results
      such as progress being made with policy relating to country code
      top-level domains of Rwanda and Uganda.
      The first online discussions for the 2009 process are being planned now
      and once started will continue throughout the year. National
      face-to-face IGF meetings will be organized and held by the end of July
      2009, the regional EA-IGF will be held before the end of September 2009.
      A recommendation from the 2008 EA-IGF was to develop a capacity building
      initiative around the issues highlighted by process. A curriculum is
      being developed based mainly on local East Africa expertise and themes
      identified by the national and regional processes. The course will
      target policy-makers and policy-influencers from government, the
      non-profit sector/NGOs, academia and the private sector, with objectives of:

      * Providing a deeper understanding of global internet governance issues,
      institutions and processes
      * Developing regional perception of Internet governance topics
      * Enhance use of the Internet in socio-economic development

      The EA-IGF is being considered as the model for other clusters of
      national and regional meetings being planned in Africa this year.
      It is my hope that these national and regional IGFs will help to realize
      many of the capacity building and development goals of the IGF
      discussions, as well as creating a sustainable foundation that supports
      developing nation participation and contributions to Internet policy
      processes that are shaping the emerging information society.


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