Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG) Ė1st meeting

Geneva, 23-25 November 2004

Informal summary


1.         The WGIG held its first meeting in Geneva from 23-25 November 2004. The meeting on  24  November  was held  in the form of consultations open to all governments and stakeholders. WGIG Chairman Nitin Desai, who is also Special Advisor to the Secretary-General on  the World Summit of the  Information Society (WSIS), reminded participants in his opening  remarks that the group was not here to negotiate, but to prepare a report with recommendations aiming to facilitate the negotiations at the second phase of the Summit in Tunis.

2.         ITU Secretary-General Yoshio Utsumi, in his capacity as WSIS Secretary-General, attended the opening session and addressed the WGIG members. The interaction with governments and all stakeholders at the open meeting on 24 November allowed the group members to listen to the input from a wide range of actors. In general, participants expressed their appreciation for the balanced composition of the group. Some time was devoted to addressing the need for the groupís work to be as open and inclusive as possible. In light of these discussions the group decided to alternate between "plenary meetings" (open to observers without the right to speak) and closed "working meetings". On the last day, observers were allowed to attend parts of the meeting.

3.         The groupís discussions focused on the structure and outline of the report and on what should be the  point of entry into its substantive work. The group agreed on a draft preliminary outline for the structure of the report, which would serve as a basis for its future work. It was understood that this structure would  not be cast in stone and could be modified in the course of the work. The group decided to postpone the discussion on the definitions of Internet and Internet governance to a later day and chose an issues-based approach as a starting point.

4.         At this stage it was generally felt that it would be best to take a comprehensive approach before setting priorities and begin with looking at a wide-ranging list of issues. These issues would be identified and categorized as follows, according to agreed language contained in the Declaration of Principles: 

            - equitable distribution of resources

            - access for all

            - stable and secure functioning of the Internet

            - multilingualism and content

            - other issues for consideration.

5.         The group agreed to prepare issue papers in a bottom-up process with the involvement of all its members. The papers would be developed according to a common template that would be finalized after the meeting and should be ready by 15 December 2004 and posted on the WGIG website. Each issue should be measured against the crosscutting principles contained in the Geneva documents and assess the adequacy of current arrangements. These principles included transparency, democracy, multilateralism, the full involvement of governments, the private sector, civil society and international organizations as well as the capacity to address governance issues in a coordinated manner. The papers should be ready by 25 January 2005 and made available on the WGIG website. 

6.         The group discussed how to organize its work and set out the timeline for its activities. The next meeting will take place in Geneva back-to-back with WSIS PrepCom-2. This will allow for another round of open consultations with governments and all stakeholders on 15 and 16 February 2005, thus giving PrepCom participants the opportunity to interact with the WGIG. The group will then meet in a working session to prepare the preliminary report it has been asked to submit to PrepCom-2. It was also agreed to hold two further meetings, in April and in June.

7.        The group agreed on the importance of the developmental dimension and saw Internet governance in the broad context of WSIS and efforts to harness ICTs to promote the development goals of the Millenium Declaration. A development focus would therefore be one of the crosscutting priorities. In this regard, the group noted that measures would have to be taken to improve the representation of developing countries in the various Internet governance mechanisms and arrangements. In particular, it would be necessary to develop capacity building measures to allow developing country representatives to make their voices heard in all relevant forums.

8.         Furthermore, the group expressed its desire to develop working methods and processes that would make best possible use of ICTs. Several group members volunteered to develop proposals for internal use among WGIG members as well as a means towards keeping the process as transparent, open and inclusive as possible. Webcasting and video conferencing were mentioned as useful tools for enabling virtual participation in meetings. In this regard, a first positive experience was made in the margins of the meeting with a video link up with an Asian civil society conference that was held at the same time in Bangkok. 

9.         The Chairman noted in his summing up that the group had held a very successful first meeting and had advanced well in its substantive work. In particular, he underlined that the group members had been willing to listen to each otherís concerns and had established a dialogue of good faith.