The World Summit on the Information Society and Internet Governance
Developments and Resources
Who runs the Internet? You do.
1 November 2005
Stakeholders from many of ICANN's bottom-up partnership structures have participated in the WSIS process. Key representatives from these groups have organized a WSIS Working Group, through which several sessions on WSIS have been held at ICANN meetings. ICANN will participate in the second Phase of the WSIS, and attend the Tunis summit.
The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) is an intergovernmental process, addressing issues relating to the Information Society. Its origins lie with the December 2001 UN General Assembly Resolution 56/183 which endorsed the World Summit, to be convened by the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
The WSIS consists of two Summits, between which a number of preparatory meetings were held.
Phase One of the WSIS took place from 10 to 12 December 2003 in Geneva, Switzerland.
It concluded with a Declaration of Principles and a Plan of Action. Two issues required further discussion, one refered to as Internet governance and the other involving Financial Mechanisms. To address these two issues, two groups were created to hold additional discussions: the Task Force on Financial Mechanisms (TFFM), and the Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG).
The TFFM was asked to: "review the adequacy of existing financial mechanisms in meeting the challenges of ICT for development."
TFFM Final Report
The WGIG was asked to “investigate and make proposals for action, as appropriate, on the governance of the Internet by 2005”, dealing with the following issues:
1. Develop a definition of Internet governance
2. Identify relevant public policy issues
3. 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 in both developing and developed countries
The WGIG held four meetings in Geneva: 23-25 November 2004; 14 18 February 2005; 18-20 April 2005; and 14-17 June 2005.
The WGIG comprised 40 members from Governments, private sector and civil society, who all participated in their personal capacity. It was chaired by Mr. Nitin Desai, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General for the WSIS.
14 June 2005 Address of Dr. Paul Twomey to the WGIG PDF
WGIG Final Report
ICANN comments to WGIG Report PDF
Government, private sector and civil society comments
Phase two will take place from 16 to 18 November 2005 in Tunis, Tunisia.
The third meeting of the WSIS Preparatory Committee (PrepCom-3 of the Tunis phase) took place in Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland, from 19-30 September 2005. Prepcom 3 addressed the issue of Internet governance.
During PrepCom 3 numerous proposals were put forward in relation to Internet governance. These proposals centered around two themes:
1. FORUM - Establishing a .forum' to enable ongoing discussions on Internet related issues
2. OVERSIGHT - The interest by some governments to establish an .oversight mechanism'
Prepcom 3 however did not reach conclusions and it will reconvened from 13-15 November 2005 to try and agree these outcomes.
WSIS Prepcom-3 discussions have become focused on at least eight government proposals for governance of the technical infrastructure of the Internet. Some examples of these positions are:
What are People Saying?
The WSIS process has sparked a debate about the role and future of the Internet in the global community. A selection of opinions and articles is below.
The U.N. Isn't a Threat to the Net | Kofi A. Annan, November 5, 2005
The main objective of the World Summit on the Information Society to be held this month in Tunisia is to ensure that poor countries get the full benefits that new information and communication technologies -- including the Internet -- can bring to economic and social development.
Who Will Control the Internet? | Foreign Affairs, November/December 2005
Foreign governments want control of the Internet transferred from an American NGO to an international institution. Washington has responded with a Monroe Doctrine for our times, setting the stage for further controversy.
Internet Governance Still Burning Issue @ Wsis-05 | Allafrica.com, 27 October 2005
Following the failure to reach a consensus at the third Preparatory Committee meeting (PrepCom-3) held in Geneva, last month, Internet Governance would still be a burning issue at the second phase of WSIS, just few weeks away.
Preserving the Web of the free | International Herald Tribune, 25 October, 2005
I Think ICANN | Fast Company, 20 October, 2005
Does the internet belong to America , or to the world? That is the essential question being asked by the UN.
Nominet votes for Argentinian solution to net ownership | Out-Law.com, 19 October 2005
In an historically unusual decision, the company running all .uk internet domains, Nominet, has voted for an Argentinian solution to the current crisis over internet ownership.
Net power struggle nears climax | BBC News, 11 October 2005
Keep the Internet free | International Herald Tribune, 10 October, 2005
Beyond the headlines, a critically important battle for control of the Internet is being played out.
Governments make net grab - Podcast Exclusive | The Register, 10 October 2005
Who should have control of the Internet? Last month ' s United Nations meeting in Geneva saw the United States pitched against the EU as well as old foes China , Iran and Cuba in a fight for overall control of the Internet.
Vital Battle For Internet | Bildt Comments, 11 June, 2005
Without much publicity, a critical battle over the future of the Internet is going on.
International Chamber of Commerce, Commission on E-Business, IT and Telecoms
OECD Secretariat, Directorate for Science, Technology and Industry
Other Information Sources