Group Statement on Internet Governance - a Joint Statement by Several Caucuses

Statement by the Civil Society Internet Governance Caucus, the Gender, Human Rights, Privacy and Media Caucuses on behalf of the Civil Society Content and Themes Group, 23 February 2005, Geneva

1. We commend the Secretary General of the United Nations on the establishment of the Working Group on Internet Governance.

We express our support for the WGIG’s multi stakeholder approach, and wish to stress that there is a fundamental difference between multilateral and multi stakeholder processes, and that the Summit documents were explicit in calling for the balanced participation of all stakeholders. Legitimate and successful Internet Governance can only be achieved if all concerned or affected groups have an opportunity to influence the outcome. Gender balanced representation in all aspects of Internet Governance is vital for the process and its outcomes to have legitimacy.

We believe the WGIG is becoming a working model for multi-stakeholder collaboration, with all sectors providing expertise and contributions. The governments that agreed to this new global practice should now take positive steps to ensure its full implementation.

As a first step, conformity with this evolving norm should be carefully assessed with respect to existing arrangements at intergovernmental level, like the ITU, WIPO, UNESCO, other organizations such as OECD and WTO, private sector arrangements like ICANN and the IETF, and to emerging mechanisms.


2. The WGIG should ground its work within a human rights and development framework. The rights to freedom of expression and privacy are of special importance in this context as is the need for a greater emphasis on the principles of openness and transparency.

The caucus believes that two outcomes of the WGIG that will add significant value are:

  • An understanding of how governance mechanisms can further these basic rights and principles,
  • An elaboration of the concept of democratic internet governance which fosters the goals of creativity, innovation and cultural and linguistic diversity

3. The extent of participation from those who do not yet have access to the Internet is still far from sufficient. This is especially true for civil society actors. The stakeholders present during this WSIS process have been, in the main, economically privileged and predominately male. We would like the WGIG to make appropriate recommendations to ensure the effective participation of ALL people from all regions of the world. For governance mechanisms to be all-inclusive and transparent, even women and men who are not yet connected by any communication technologies should be represented and heard.


4. All stakeholders should recognize the diversity of processes and mechanisms involved in Internet governance, including:

  • decisions by individual users
  • private agreements
  • national policies, and,
  • international and transnational bodies.

This diversity of perspectives, opinions and values should be reflected in the final report and any further outcomes of the WGIG. While we support WGIG’s efforts to establish consensus on various issues, the report should go beyond consensual matters and find ways to reflect diversity.


5. Although Prepcom 2 is early for substantive progress on issues and definitions, we wish to emphasize those that the WGIG must consider in its next phase of work:

  • Unilateral control of the root zone file and its effects for the name space
  • The crucial role of technical standards in the preservation of an interoperable global Internet
  • The impact of Internet Governance on freedom of expression and privacy
  • The different implications of Internet Governance for women and men
  • The impact of Internet Governance on consumer protection
  • International Intellectual property and trade rules where they intersect with Internet Governance
  • Access to knowledge as global commons

In addition we wish the WGIG luck in coming to closure on a coherent and meaningful definition on Internet governance.

The relevance of the WGIG report lies in advancing a global understanding of these issues. Such an understanding constitutes the basis of informed, inclusive and democratic approaches to Internet governance. We look forward to progress being made on these issues and the opportunity to contribute further to WGIG’s work.

Regarding follow up of WGIG's final report, negotiations must be conducted “in an open and inclusive process that ensures a mechanism for the full and active participation of governments, the private sector and civil society from both developing and developed countries” as stated in the Geneva declaration of principles. The final negotiated document MUST reflect and honour the multi-stakeholder process that produced it.

© 2003 WSIS Gender Caucus