Preparing for the Internet Governance Forum

For a while this journal will take a turn away from personal matters to focus on the subject of my thesis; the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), since the Secretariat has declared that the blogosphere will be monitored for discussion on the IGF and summary reports presented to its first meeting which I will be attending in Athens. I intend this journal to be one of the blogs monitored. The thesis will examine critically the extent to which the IGF lives up to its ideals of transparency and inclusiveness. Early signs are mixed, but I remain positive. The IGF’s Secretariat was appointed by the Secretary-General of the UN on 2 March 2006, comprised of UN staffers led by Swiss WGIG coordinator, Marcus Kummer. Not exactly a multi-stakeholder core, but the Secretariat is not a policy-making unit. Or is it? It was the Secretariat that determined the composition of the IGF Advisory Group, following a call for nominations put out on 16 March 2006, closing on 18 April. However, the selection process was neither open nor transparent, and my own nomination made on 29 March was not acknowledged. The group eventually selected, and chaired by Nitin Desai, another WGIG alumnus, was announced on 17 May. Its composition is heavy with diplomats, lawyers and executives. The Advisory Group, in turn, determined the basic agenda and programme for the first meeting, and is continuing to do so in selecting the successful applicants for self-funded workshops to be held concurrently with the plenary sessions of the meeting. They have also decided that there should be a Plaza at the meeting venue to showcase institutions and projects. There is no information on the costs associated with exhibiting in the Plaza, but watch this space.

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