Friday, February 18, 2005

Bertola Blogging from WSIS

From Vittorio's blog:

yesterday was quite a busy and significant day! today's wgig meeting will be starting in a few minutes, so i'll just post some quick notes.

the day started with what could be considered a disertion. the itu had organized a briefing on next generation networks and other issues, but unfortunately it had been scheduled at 9:15, overlapping with the civil society plenary. i really wanted to attend the plenary (even if often ends up being pointless and confused), so, on my own, i decided i would skip the itu session. but well, it seems that all civil society members of the wgig thought the same, because in the end most of the wgig attended the itu session... but, apparently, no one from civil society.
however, at 10 am - the intended starting time for the wgig meeting - i entered the main room, and bob shaw was still doing his presentation. so i could watch the last slides... not surprisingly, when he finished, three people took the floor one after another, including marilyn cade and bob kahn (they were sitting all in a row, with the u.s. government representative right in the middle). they made him some "nasty" questions, and you could easily imagine sparks and bolts flying inside the room.

in the end, however, the itu presentation extended well into the wgig meeting, up to 11am. some wgig members were quite puzzled by this - the group had kindly turned down a proposal by some governments to let the itu make a special presentation at the beginning of the wgig meetings, and yet more or less it happened all the same. if i were mr. utsumi, i would wonder whether this is the right way to build sympathy for my proposals.

the morning wgig session went smoothly... except that we were a bit puzzled to hear the chair again mentioning the fact that a certain set of issues, "for example ipr", would belong to a bigger category that influenced the internet but did not directly pertain to internet governance.
at the caucus meeting at lunchtime we decided we would not want to let this idea pass so easily, and so we approved the final caucus statement (see yesterday's post) and also decided that caucus members should restate clearly that there are some ipr-connected issues which cannot in any way fall out of the wgig mandate.

i was late for the afternoon session, because a small number of civil society and private sector wgig members gathered out of the room at 3 pm exactly to discuss this issue. i had the pleasure of meeting a lady from the motion picture association (mpa/mpaa), and even if i think that we need some reciprocal education, i think that there could be some room for discussion.
so, when i got into the main room adam peake had already read the caucus statement, and milton mueller had specifically addressed ipr and whois, getting a straight reply from the indian government. the discussion went on a little, but in the end i think that no one can deny any more that ipr is still on the field.

i think that there are two moments to be remembered from the afternoon. first, bill drake read out loud an email from jamie love that informed everyone that wipo had just refused to accredit most civil society and user ngos, leaving most ngo speaking slots for their general assembly to trade associations of ip owners.

second, in reaction to our point that governance must not just be multilateral (a term that, in diplomacy, means "open to participation by all interested governments") but also multi-stakeholder (including non-governmental actors), one governmental wgig member spoke to explain that, according to the negotiations, the word "multilateral" in the wsis declaration was not to be intended in the traditional diplomatic sense, but in a broader sense that was actually nearer to "multi-stakeholder".

so, coming from the part of the world where politicians always talk about plans to uphold democracy, promote democracy, and export democracy, you would have expected this person to be from europe or the u.s., right? but no - he was from the islamic republic of iran.
of course, i know that the people representing western democracies definitely support the inclusion of civil society - in fact, they have been working for this in the past. still, as a european union citizen, i would like our governments to regularly be more vocal about participation, inclusion, human rights, and the interests of the individual citizens, rather than just about the importance of an enabling business environment.

finally, i forgot to tell that i was picked up to speak about internet governance at the official civil society press conference in the afternoon. i eventually got caught up in an interview by the italian language swiss television (i hope my girlfrend's relatives in lugano don't see it!), and i had to explain why civil society is not boycotting tunisia on human rights issues, and what do i think about cyberterrorism. i'm not sure i was qualified to talk about this!


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