Nº 5 2013 > Highlights from WPTF‑13 Opinions
How much progress has the enhanced cooperation process achieved?
The World Summit on the Information Society established the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) and a process for enhanced cooperation on governance issues. These have generally been recognized as two distinct processes.
Discussions concerning the implementation of the process for enhanced cooperation have continued in various forums over the past few years. In that context, particular attention has been paid to the role of different stakeholder groups and the nature of their cooperation under the implementation framework. The role of governments vis-à-vis other stakeholders has been a hot topic. One view is that the process towards enhanced cooperation involves all stakeholders in their respective roles. Another view is that the stated need for enhanced cooperation, as defined in paragraph 69 of the Tunis Agenda (2005), puts a specific emphasis on governments.
Currently, some view the cooperation process as still being in its preliminary stages, while others have noted that enhanced cooperation is already happening in varying degrees between organizations and through different forums.
WTPF‑13 Opinion 6
The World Telecommunication and Information and Communication Technology Policy Forum (WTPF‑13), held in Geneva on 14–16 May 2013, adopted Opinion 6 on “supporting operationalizing the enhanced cooperation process”. The Forum’s Working Group 3 first considered this Opinion as originally drafted by the Informal Experts Group, along with contributions from the United States, Turkey, the Réseaux IP Européens Network Coordination Centre (RIPE NCC), the Internet Society (ISOC), Australia and India.
The United States, RIPE NCC and ISOC supported draft Opinion 6 as it stood. In the interests of reaching agreement in the limited time available, Australia agreed not to pursue its proposal to merge Opinions 5 and 6, even though it did not consider the text perfect.
India asked for additional paragraphs of the Tunis Agenda to be referenced under “recalling”, arguing that selectively quoting paragraphs could give an incomplete picture of the topic under discussion. Some delegates from developing countries said that a reference to paragraph 65 of the Tunis Agenda was important, as it specifically addressed developing countries.
In a spirit of compromise, the paragraph under “recalling” was revised and agreed by consensus. It says that paragraphs of the Tunis Agenda which relate to enhanced cooperation and the roles of all relevant stakeholders include: 35, 37, 55, 60, 65, 68, 69, 70, 71, and 83. With this amendment, Working Group 3 endorsed Opinion 6 and passed it on to the plenary, which approved it as amended.
Rationale for Opinion 6
The Internet has evolved into a powerful and successful vehicle for innovation, economic growth, the spread of knowledge and culture, and the delivery of services. The Internet provides economic and social benefits to governments, business and society at large. There are, however, some problems related to network security and spam, which should be addressed by stakeholders.
The Internet is now essential to business and government services, and international cooperation and support are needed to bring its benefits to all peoples of the world, in particular developing and least-developed countries.
The United Nations family of organizations has attempted, not entirely successfully, to address some international Internet-related public policy issues, while the Tunis Agenda has called for enhanced cooperation among relevant stakeholders in that respect.
Gist of Opinion 6
WTPF‑13 noted Resolution A/RES/67/195 on information and communications technologies for development, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 21 December 2012, and highlighted two of its provisions in Opinion 6. One of these provisions “Invites the Chair of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development to establish a working group on enhanced cooperation to examine the mandate of the World Summit on the Information Society regarding enhanced cooperation as contained in the Tunis Agenda, through seeking, compiling and reviewing inputs from all Member States and all other stakeholders, and to make recommendations on how to fully implement this mandate; advises the Chair, when convening the working group, to take into consideration the meetings already scheduled on the calendar of the Commission; and also advises that the working group should report to the Commission at its seventeenth session, in 2014, as part of the overall review of the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society.”
Another provision “Requests the Chair of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development to ensure that the working group on enhanced cooperation has a balanced representation between governments from the five regional groups of the Commission, and invitees from all other stakeholders, namely, the private sector, civil society, technical and academic communities, and intergovernmental and international organizations, drawn equally from developing and developed countries”.
With that in mind, WTPF‑13 reaffirmed the need for enhanced cooperation to enable governments to develop international Internet-related public policy in consultation with all stakeholders, as outlined in paragraph 69 of the Tunis Agenda. All stakeholders are invited to work on these issues.