The overall WSIS review is a complex process involving multiple UN agencies. This review also encompasses the future of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) and the complex and politically charged issue ofenhanced cooperation.
The WSIS+10 event, hosted by UNESCO in cooperation with ITU, UNCTAD and UNDP, was one of two WSIS+10 review conferences, following-up to the World Summit on the Information Society, which will celebrate its 10-year anniversary in 2015.
The UNESCO WSIS+10 event (Paris 25-27 February 2013) developed recommendations that will feed into the review process culminating in the UN-level WSIS review meeting in 2015. These recommendations were drawn from preliminary research undertaken by UNESCO for the review, and from the plenary and workshops which took place during the meeting itself. The recommendations from the UNESCO meeting, the ITU meeting in 2014, and the WSIS Forum in May will shape the WSIS+10 review and any possible future WSIS programs.
This first formal session of the WSIS Review process gave some very positive outcomes, which will be transmitted to the UN.
All participants underlined the importance of WSIS and welcomed UNESCO’s work and engagement.
During this session the importance of the Multistakeholder (MSH) model and the importance of the IGF have been stated many times. Moreover in several panels key Internet policy issues were addressed, such as privacy, freedom of expression, and cyber security. These matters will shape governance debates over the next few years.
The multistakholder discussion between representatives from stakeholder groups from around the world, was extremely rich and open. Speakers and participants expressed a variety of positions and suggestions on how to improve the process, and on which issues should be given priority. Of course, there were also some divergences, but the overall feeling was of deep engagement and collaboration.
Most of the suggestions were proactive and forward-looking, and showed the strive of many towards constantly improving the debate, and the Review process.
The keynote speaker of the first day was a prominent economist, Professor Jeffrey Sachs. He highlighted the importance of bridging digital and knowledge divide in order to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals as well as to solve around the main sustainable development challenges.
The United States declared their strong support to the continued work of several UN agencies, including ITU and UNCTAD, in implementing WSIS Action Lines, and to the critical work of the the UNCommission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) in coordinating UN efforts on the implementation and review of WSIS+10 goals. We look forward to the 2015 CSTD report to the General Assembly and to the Autumn 2014 ITU meeting.
The UNESCO’s Global survey on Internet privacy and freedom of expression and the standard-setting report “Freedom of Connection, Freedom of Expression” were promoted during various workshops.
Frank La Rue, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, said that Internet should not become another instrument controlled by the economic or technical elite.
Ms Marietje Schaake, member of the European Parliament, said that “MSH risks becoming an empty answer to all questions, and that’s not enough”. Furthermore, she added that a high number of challenges cannot be confronted with by the MSH approach alone. Governance and Net neutrality will also play a very important role.
During the panel on “Public and industry regulatory initiatives in the field of intellectual property enforcement”, Wendy Seltzer from W3C said that “she was not against copyright enforcement but against reshaping the Internet structure”.
Konstantinos Komaitis, from the Internet Society, raised the interesting question of having a MSH approach in the IP field as well.
In the conclusive remarks, Fadi Chehadé, CEO of ICANN, said that the multi-stakeholder approach is the only way forward.
Some concerns on the output documents were raised by some countries. Saudi Arabia, in particular, pointed out that the self-selected audience was hardly globally representative.
In light of its supportive engagement in the Review, Brazil offered to host the 2015 IGF.
Dr Hamadoun Touré, Secretary-General, International Telecommunication Union (ITU) said that the ITU will host the WSIS (April 2014) in Sharm el-Sheikh. The outcomes of this will be send to CSTSD and UNGA.
Overall, the ITU WSIS Forum in 2014 will be challenged to keep such a positive dialogue forward.