Enhanced cooperation and global Internet governance

The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) gave a mandate to commence a process towards enhanced cooperation with regard to international public policy issues pertaining to the Internet. This phrase largely implies development of appropriate institutions for global Internet governance. Unfortunately nothing had been done on this important meeting.


The UN General Assembly asked for the Chair of Commission on Science and Technology (CSTD) for Development to hold a special meeting on the subject of 'Enhanced Cooperation on Public Policies Pertaining to the Internet' which was held in Geneva on May 18th, 2012. Parminder Jeet Singh of IT for Change was invited to speak at the opening panel, which speech can be accessed here. Parminder highlighted the need to openly and throughly discuss the issue and implications of multistakeholderism in global Internet governance, focusing on what roles different stakeholders should play in this regard.


On May 22nd, 2012, CSTD during its substantive session had a discussion on 'enhanced cooperation' where too Parminder Jeet Singh spoke at the opening panel. This speech is available here. In this speech, Parminder suggested some conceptual clarifications and practical steps to move forward on the vexed issue of 'enhanced cooperation'.


In the run up to these important meetings on the issue of 'enhanced cooperation', IT for Change did an important campaign for 'democratising global Internet governance'. This campaign was supported by over 60 civil society organisations and many more individuals, from across the world. This campaign also found a positive mention in the joint press release issued by UN Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights and UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression.


Earlier, in 2010, in an intervention at the annual meeting of the CSTD, IT for Change made a statement where it stressed that 'enhanced cooperation' and the Internet Governance Forum were 'distinct but complementary processes, in the wake of efforts by some actors at conflating these two different mandates from the WSIS. This 'distinct and complementary' phrase got into the CSTD resolution and subsequently in the UN General Assembly resolution. It is one of the most quoted phrases now-a-days in enhanced cooperations discussions, especially by developing countries. In this statement, we also proposed for the first time that an open consultation may be held on 'enhanced cooperation'. This demand was accepted.


In the December 2010 open consultation on 'enhanced cooperation' arranged by UN DESA, IT for Change made a contribution that can be found here. Apart from suggesting a UN Committee on Internet Related Policies (which was officially demanded by Indian government in October 2011 in UN General Assembly), we also demanded setting up a working group on enhanced cooperation. Demand of such a working group was backed by many governments and other actors during the CSTD meeting of May 2012, mentioned above.


IT for Change was also instrumental in getting the topic of 'enhanced cooperation' into the discussions at Internet Governance Forum, against considerable resistance by actors who basically support the status quo in global Internet governance. It was largely because of our efforts that 'enhanced cooperation' got discussed in a main session during the 2008 meeting of Internet Governance Forum. The panel discussion included Parminder Jeet Singh.

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