Nº 5 2013 > Highlights from WPTF‑13 Opinions

Multistakeholderism in Internet governance

The importance of the Tunis Agenda

Multistakeholderism in Internet governance

Multistakeholderism was recognized at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) as the global model for Internet governance, and WSIS outcome documents (2005) provide a framework and set of principles for that model.

Paragraph 34 of the Tunis Agenda provides a working definition of Internet governance as “the development and application by governments, the private sector and civil society, in their respective roles, of shared principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures, and programmes that shape the evolution and use of the Internet”.

The roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder group are further specified in paragraph 35 of the Tunis Agenda, which states that “The management of the Internet encompasses both technical and public policy issues and should involve all stakeholders and relevant intergovernmental and international organizations.” In this respect, it is recognized that:

  • Policy authority for Internet-related public policy issues is the sovereign right of States. They have rights and responsibilities for international Internet-related public policy issues.
  • The private sector has had, and should continue to have, an important role in the development of the Internet, both in the technical and economic fields.
  • Civil society has also played an important role on Internet matters, especially at community level, and should continue to play such a role.
  • Intergovernmental organizations have had, and should continue to have, a facilitating role in the coordination of Internet-related public policy issues.
  • International organizations have also had and should continue to have an important role in the development of Internet-related technical standards and relevant policies.

WTPF‑13 Opinion 5

The World Telecommunication and Information and Communication Technology Policy Forum (WTPF‑13), held in Geneva on 14–16 May 2013, adopted Opinion 5 recalling all these principles as essential to a successful multistakeholder governance of the Internet.

As noted in the Opinion, Resolutions 101, 102 and 133 (Rev. Guadalajara, 2010) all resolve to explore ways and means for greater collaboration and coordination between ITU and relevant organizations including, but not limited, to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs), the Internet Society (ISOC) and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). This collaboration and coordination should be on the basis of reciprocity.

Prior to endorsement, Working Group 3 discussed “Draft Opinion 5: Supporting Multi-stakeholderism in Internet Governance”, along with contributions from the Russian Federation, Australia, India, the United States, Turkey, ISOC, and the Réseaux IP Européens Network Coordination Centre (RIPE NCC).

The United States, RIPE NCC, and ISOC expressed support for Opinion 5 as originally drafted. ISOC, in addition, proposed including paragraph 37 of the Tunis Agenda in the text of the Opinion, but did not insist on that inclusion. The Russian Federation proposed that wording should be added to the draft Opinion on the role of Member States, but agreed to discuss that proposal within the context of a contribution from Brazil proposing a new draft Opinion (see https://itunews.itu.int/En/4146-Brazils-draft-Opinion.note.aspx).

Meanwhile, the Working Group agreed with Turkey’s proposal to include the word “organizations” in the closing paragraph of Opinion 5. As approved, that paragraph invites Member States and other stakeholders to focus in particular on how to improve the participation of developing-country stakeholders in the initiatives, entities, “organizations” and institutions involved in various aspects of Internet governance.

India withdrew its proposal to add a reference listing specific paragraphs of the Tunis Agenda, but insisted on an exact reference to Paragraph 37 of the Tunis Agenda in “recognizing a)” of Opinion 5, and agreed that their proposal to add a new paragraph to the Opinion’s “recalling” section to reflect paragraph 61 of the Tunis Agenda should appear only in the WTPF‑13 Chairman’s report.

During the discussion that followed, the Working Group agreed to revise “recognizing a)” in order to align it with the text in Paragraph 37 of the Tunis Agenda. Essentially, this Paragraph 37 seeks better coordination of the activities of international and intergovernmental organizations and other institutions concerned with Internet governance, and better exchange of information among them. It states that a multistakeholder approach should be adopted, as far as possible, at all levels.

With these amendments, Working Group 3 endorsed Opinion 5 and submitted it to the plenary, which also reached consensus making no further change to the text.

Gist of Opinion 5

WTPF‑13 took the view that it is important to further implement multistakeholder practices, as outlined in the relevant paragraphs of the Tunis Agenda. Member States and other stakeholders are invited to explore ways and means for greater collaboration and coordination between governments, the private sector, international and intergovernmental organizations, and civil society, as well as for greater participation in multistakeholder processes. The aim is to ensure that the governance of the Internet is a multistakeholder process that enables all parties to continue to benefit from the Internet.

Member States and other stakeholders are invited to contribute — according to their roles and responsibilities set out in paragraph 35 of the Tunis Agenda — and to mainly focus on improving the participation of developing-country stakeholders in the initiatives of entities, organizations and institutions involved in the various aspects of Internet governance.



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