Sunday, January 30, 2005

Vittorio Bertola: Update on WGIG

Vittorio Bertola, Chair of the ALAC and member of the Working Group on Internet Governance, provides an update on the WGIG:

I thought useful to send a brief reminder to the Plenary about what the WGIG is and what it is doing.

The WGIG is a group of experts that was chartered by the Plan of Action of the Geneva Summit, with the following mission:
i) Develop a working definition of Internet Governance;
ii) Identify the public policy issues that are relevant to InternetGovernance;
iii) Develop a common understanding of the respective roles and responsibilities of governments, existing international organizations and other forums as well as the private sector and civil society from both developing and developed countries.

As such, the WGIG does not deal with policy, but only with the mechanisms through which policy is discussed and approved - which, however, are the key for a long term solution to many of the problems we complain about. WGIG members were appointed by the UN Secretary General, following consultations with stakeholders (including our own process for suggestions), but were chosen so to form an inclusive group that would collectively have the necessary skills on the different issues; while composition is balanced in term of geography and stakeholders, there is no direct representation involved.

The WGIG is required to present an interim report to PrepCom-2, and then a final report on June 30, so that it can be discussed in PrepCom-3. Consequently, PrepCom-2 will not discuss or negotiate any issue pertaining to Internet governance, while these issues will be discussed and negotiated at PrepCom-3.

The interim report will be a collection of "issue papers" that describe the issues that belong to the Internet Governance field (parts i) and ii) of the mission). The third part of the mission will be discussed from March on. These issue papers are now being drafted by the group; a list of the issues was prepared by the Secretariat, and each issue was then taken by a WGIG member, volunteering to act as "lead drafter"; first drafts were due by January 20, and are now under discussion by the whole group. Current plans are to finalize the drafts by January 31, so that they can then be commented by the public, either online or at the open consultations that will be held in Geneva on February 15-16.

The group will then meet the following two days to take comments into account and then release the final papers, which will form the interim report. This report will be presented to PrepCom-2 on February 24 (I have no idea whether some discussion will follow, maybe someone in the CSB knows?). Thus, caucuses and working groups should be prepared to submit comments before February 14, and/or to send someone at the open consultations to read them in front of the group.

I am working, together with the Secretariat, to ensure that the consultations are webcast in English and French, and that there will be options for remote input. I think that a number of strategic objectives of our collective action could be significantly helped by positive results of the WGIG. So I think that we should try to coordinate ourselves, including WGIG members, connectors and all other civil society participants, so to make our action in the group effective.

In any case, the WGIG will not take decisions, but rather make proposals to be then discussed and negotiated at PrepCom-3. While having the WGIG make proposals that we like will be very important, an equivalent work will be necessary in view of Tunis, to get these proposals approved by the governments and reflected in the outcome of WSIS-II.


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