29 November 2004
Working Group on Internet Governance Concludes First Meeting in Geneva
GENEVA, 26 November (UN Information Service) -- Meeting for the first time from 23 to 25 November 2004 in Geneva, the Working Group on Internet Governance, which is to make its recommendations to the World Summit on the Information Society in 2005, has made headway in deciding the elements to consider for its agenda, the structure and outline of its report, as well as issues such as openness to those who have a stake in the information society.
The 40 members of the Working Group, appointed by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan on 11 November 2004, were chosen in their personal capacity from the different stakeholders -- governments, private sector and civil society -- to represent all regions. The Groups Chairman, Nitin Desai, is Special Advisor to the Secretary-General for the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).
As requested by the first phase of the World Summit, held in Geneva in December 2003, the Working Group will make proposals on the governance of Internet in a report to be considered at the Tunis phase of the Summit in November 2005. The Group is expected to submit its final report to the Secretary-General in July 2005.
Mr. Desai stressed that the Group, which had enabled a "space for dialogue", had got off to a good start. He noted a high degree of openness among the members and mutual confidence. I was impressed with the constructive atmosphere evolving throughout this meeting. This has allowed the debate to move up to another level, he said.
The Group and stakeholders also praised the positive balance struck to ensure inclusiveness and equitable representation in the process. In order to build on the atmosphere of cooperation and enhance future deliberations, Mr. Desai suggested holding open meetings to discuss substantive issues and immediately making available the agenda papers to all parties concerned. Furthermore, individuals competent to speak on issues could also contribute to the Groups work through open consultations.
Meeting in private session on 23 and 25 November, the Working Group considered organizational issues, such as the agenda for its activities, the structure and outline of its report, the scope of its work and its priorities.
In an open round of consultations on 24 November, stakeholders set out the issues they wished to see on the agenda -- the mobilizing material, in the words of the Chairman. These included a definition of the Internet and Internet governance; the current situation, including the main players and their functions, and current Internet governance mechanisms; the major public policy issues and priorities; future developments and scenarios, both technological and policy/regulatory; and proposals for action.
The Working Group agreed on a timeline for meetings, the next one taking place from 14 to 16 February 2005 in Geneva, back-to-back with the second meeting of the Preparatory Committee for the World Summit (17 to 25 February 2005). This will allow the Working Group and the Committees participants to interact on the issues. A preliminary report will be presented to the Preparatory Committee. Another three-day meeting will take place in April 2005 followed by a final, longer meeting in June 2005 to draft the final report.
The tasks of the Working Group include:
-- Developing a working definition of Internet governance;
-- Identifying the public policy issues that are relevant to Internet governance;
-- Developing a common understanding of the roles and responsibilities of governments, international organizations and other forums, as well as the private sector and civil society from both developing and developed countries.
For more information, please contact: Markus Kummer, Executive Coordinator, Secretariat of the Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG), e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, tel.: +41(0) 22 917 54 88.
Secretariat website: http://www.wgig.org.
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