WGIG reflects on Internet governance achievements

By on 23 Dec 2015

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2015 marks the 10th anniversary of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). It is also the 10th anniversary of a multistakeholder experiment that helped bring the WSIS to a successful conclusion: the Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG).

Having played a part in the WGIG and WSIS debates, APNIC’s Paul Wilson and Pablo Hinojosa contributed to a newly-released book that reflects on the WGIG’s contributions to the evolving Internet governance dialogue and institutional ecosystem.

Download the book for free: The Working Group on Internet Governance – 10th Anniversary Reflections

“The WGIG process proved to be an important turning point and catalyst in the inter-governmental recognition of multistakeholder processes for Internet governance,” book editor and Chair of the WGIG, William Drake, writes in his introductory chapter.

Drake says he hopes the circulation and discussion of the book, at a time when significant issues are in play, including last week’s WSIS+10 United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting, could help to draw attention to the benefits of multistakeholder collaboration, and could serve as a helpful resource for both veteran and newer participants in Internet governance activities.

In addition, it’s hoped that this book could be useful to the various capacity development programs that have been established by these multistakeholder spaces, and to scholars and students wishing to “get up to speed” on how some of the fundamental debates and arrangements in this field have been constructed.

A critical look at critical Internet resources

Paul and Pablo’s chapter, A critical look at critical Internet resources since the WGIG, discusses a subject that attracted intense political interest throughout WSIS and into the first five-year mandate of the IGF.

They note that the WGIG Report did not attempt to define critical Internet resources, but rather used the term broadly to refer to infrastructure-related issues in general, but implicitly referring to root server and IANA-related issues in particular.

“While some discussions of the era yielded a wide range of answers to the question of which resources were critical, the common view was that the term [critical Internet resources] was merely a convenient label for the IANA functions, nothing more and nothing less,” says Paul and Pablo.

“That these were actually diverse in their technical, managerial and community features did not matter, because the term was really just a proxy for the US government’s unilateral oversight or stewardship of ICANN and its performance of the IANA functions.”

They note that no demonstrable problem with the latter was identified, but the former was a political lightening rod.

“As the critical Internet resources debate evolved, its ideological intensity progressively dissipated and decayed. The focus of the discussions became less about principles and more about practical matters, including technical, operational and business issues. While this period did feature the venting of many frustrations (both genuine and perceived), it also increased mutual understandings among most if not all stakeholders involved.”

The Working Group on Internet Governance – 10th Anniversary Reflections is available to download for free and was produced with financial support from APNIC, the Association for Progressive Communications, the Brazilian Internet Steering Committee, ICANN, and the Internet Society.


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