Panel on Global Internet Cooperation and Governance Mechanisms Builds on NETmundial Momentum

by Nora Abusitta on May 21, 2014

Yesterday, the Panel on Global Internet Cooperation and Governance Mechanisms released the culmination of its work in a high level report that can be viewed here. I was privileged to lead the ICANN team working with the panelists at an exciting time in the evolution of Internet governance discussions. As part of this incredible journey, I attended the NETmundial multistakeholder meeting in Brazil and witnessed the creation of the historic Multistakeholder Statement of São Paulo:  a document this Panel helped shape and subsequently built upon.

Formed alongside the work of ICANN’s four strategy panels as an independent panel exploring the global issue of Internet governance, and chaired by Estonia’s President Toomas Ilves, and vice-chaired by Internet pioneer Vint Cerf, the Panel on Global Internet Cooperation and Governance Mechanisms boasted an impressive cohort of panelists, representing a broad array of stakeholders from government, civil society, the private sector, the technical community, and international organizations. In addition, a team of experts in Internet governance helped inform and energize discussions in support of the panelists.

The panelists first met in December 2013 in a wintery London where they reinforced the need for a multistakeholder approach to the future evolution of Internet governance, and started their work by exploring the desirable properties for global Internet cooperation and governance. The New Year saw the first in-person meeting in Brussels of the experts who worked towards synthesizing the properties of the Panel’s first meeting into a draft report structure. Meanwhile, other developments reinforced the timely nature of the Panel’s work with the announcement and development of the CGI.br and /1net initiative of the Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance, also known as NETmundial.

Recognizing the significance of the upcoming NETmundial meeting, the Panel and experts decided at their February meeting in Rancho Mirage, California to supply their work-to-date in the form of a submission to NETmundial. This meeting resulted in the Panel’s submission of essential Principles for Internet governance, and a roadmap enabling greater collaboration in the evolution of a distributed Internet governance ecosystem.

I saw the power of the multistakeholder model in action at NETmundial as I watched people from such a diverse range of backgrounds and regions comment on, draft, endorse, and celebrate the Multistakeholder Statement of São Paulo [PDF, 545 KB]. This landmark document set forward a set of common principles and important values to support an Internet governance framework that is “inclusive, multistakeholder, effective, legitimate, evolving.” It also placed at its center the belief that the Internet truly is a global resource that must be managed for the public interest.

The Dubai meeting, hosted by the World Economic Forum (WEF), was the final in-person meeting for the Panel this month. At this meeting, the Panel acknowledged the NETmundial principles as a further evolution of their original submission, and adopted them for the report that they published yesterday. The Panel recognized the need for their work to further build on the NETmundial statement’s roadmap for the future evolution of Internet governance. As such, the Panel built on their key concepts of decentralized governance comprised of Distributed Governance Groups and the elements of Internet governance processes in collaboratively addressing Internet governance issues, as well as the important Enablers which would facilitate collaborative and decentralize Internet governance, namely: Forums and Dialogues enabling broad engagement; Expert Communities to enable targeted engagement; and Capacity Development and Toolkits to enable empowered engagement.

Advancing the NETmundial roadmap, the Panel recommended next steps and mapped their urgency over the next three years, including the need for:

  • Coalescing and supporting broad multistakeholder alliances.
  • Developing new and strengthening existing Internet governance mechanisms.
  • Evolving collaborative decision-making through research and analysis.
  • Establishing urgently needed sustainable funding and resource models to enable Internet governance evolution and to strengthen and operationalize the collaborative Internet governance ecosystem.
  • Supporting ICANN accountability and IANA globalization.

Like the Internet itself, the conversation about Internet governance continues to evolve. The panelists recognized this, and while their work informed – and was informed by – the process in Brazil’s NETmundial, they acknowledged that this process to evolve and grow a decentralized and collaborative Internet governance ecosystem is far from over. Reemphasizing their belief that collaboration is essential in Internet governance, the panelists produced additional questions for other initiatives and stakeholders who will continue the journey towards a collaborative, decentralized Internet governance ecosystem.

I, for one, have been honored and privileged to serve on this great initiative, and encourage all stakeholders to join in the global conversation, promoting and protecting our one Internet.

Link to the final report of the Panel on Global Internet Cooperation and Governance Mechanisms: http://internetgovernancepanel.org/panel-report

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