My closing session statement at the Nairobi IGF

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My closing session statement at the Nairobi IGF
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Date: 30/9/2011 5:25 am
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Madam Chair, your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I address you as co-coordinator of the Civil Society Internet Governance Caucus, which is an open and diverse group of civil society stakeholders who believe in an inclusive, people centered and development oriented approach to Internet governance. As such our members were amongst the earliest and strongest proponents of the IGF, which together we have all shaped into a forum which embodies those values.

One of the recent developments in Internet governance most remarked upon at this meeting has been the flourishing of statements of principles of Internet governance from various stakeholders, including governments and intergovernmental organisations. This is a welcome development, because it demonstrates that those stakeholders understand the value of soft governance of the Internet, which the IGF also exemplifies. Several of the stakeholders who have developed statements of principles have also placed them before this meeting of the IGF for discussion. This is another welcome step, because it shows their commitment to developing policy through multi-stakeholder consultation, and the IGF is the perfect place for this.

Continuing this process, the next step that many in civil society would like to see is for the IGF to be used as a venue for each of the stakeholders to contribute these statements of principles, to a process by which we draw out common elements, and build consensus, towards the development of a multi-stakeholder framework of principles which we can all own together. If such a joint statement of principles could be produced during the current term of the IGF's mandate, this would have far more weight and legitimacy than any of the individual statements could ever hope to possess on their own. It would also establish beyond question the IGF's ability to contribute tangible and lasting outcomes for the guidance of policy makers.

On the part of the Internet Governance Caucus, we intend to participate in the development of a set of principles for civil society, using an open and transparent process, as our input into the process of developing a common framework of principles. We hope to present this civil society statement of principles at the next meeting of the IGF and at other Internet governance meetings in the meantime.

If we are to work towards an IGF framework of principles, this exercise should be undertaken not merely in a stakeholder-organised workshop, but as a plenary body, involving all participants, and taking full advantage of the improvements to the IGF's processes that we expect the CSTD Working Group will propose. Amongst these improvements, we hope, will be a way to involve remote participants, particularly from the global South, as equals. After all, e-participation, both during meetings and throughout the year, is one of the best ways in which we can promote multi-stakeholder values of inclusion, transparency and openness.

It will also be very useful for the next IGF meeting to adopt a theme that provides a suitable context to focus on the various statements of principles and explore commonalities. An appropriate main theme for this purpose is human rights and Internet governance.

One of the other debates for which this IGF meeting will be remembered concerns one possible model by which the non-binding policy options developed by multi-stakeholder means at the IGF, could feed into a higher level process where a choice between those options is made. Very often, an appropriate such high level process already exists, and whilst it can and should be enhanced in line with the multi-stakeholder model, a new process or institution may not be needed. But we should also remain open to discussing cases in which there is not already an appropriate and inclusive high-level process to resolve particular policy issues, perhaps because no existing institution has a mandate to decide on those issues.

It is for such cases that the Tunis Agenda directs all stakeholders to consider possible mechanisms for enhanced cooperation. As civil society we look forward to discussing with any democratic government, and with the private sector and technical community, whether new processes are needed, in what circumstances they may be needed, and how we can guarantee that they do not detract in any way from the rightful role of the IGF, nor from the entitlement of all stakeholders to participate fully in Internet governance.

Thank you and I look forward to continuing to collaborate with you all in this exciting time for governance and the Internet.

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