Internet Governance Forum (IGF)
As one outcome of the United Nations World Summit on the Information Society and following up on its Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG), the November 2005 summit in Tunis decided to establish the United Nations Internet Governance Forum (IGF).
It is important to understand that the IGF is not a decision-making body, but has been established as a policy dialogue forum with strong claims to multi-stakeholder involvement and participation. Its mandate is set out in paragraph 72 of the Tunis Agenda of the WSIS:
72. We ask the UN Secretary-General, in an open and inclusive process, to convene, by the second quarter of 2006, a meeting of the new forum for multi-stakeholder policy dialogue -- called the Internet Governance Forum (IGF).The mandate of the Forum is to:
- Discuss public policy issues related to key elements of Internet governance in order to foster the sustainability, robustness, security, stability and development of the Internet;
- Facilitate discourse between bodies dealing with different cross-cutting international public policies regarding the Internet and discuss issues that do not fall within the scope of any existing body;
- Interface with appropriate inter-governmental organizations and other institutions on matters under their purview;
- Facilitate the exchange of information and best practices, and in this regard make full use of the expertise of the academic, scientific and technical communities;
- Advise all stakeholders in proposing ways and means to accelerate the availability and affordability of the Internet in the developing world;
- Strengthen and enhance the engagement of stakeholders in existing and/or future Internet governance mechanisms, particularly those from developing countries;
- Identify emerging issues, bring them to the attention of the relevant bodies and the general public, and, where appropriate, make recommendations;
- Contribute to capacity building for Internet governance in developing countries, drawing fully on local sources of knowledge and expertise;
- Promote and assess, on an ongoing basis, the embodiment of WSIS principles in Internet governance processes;
- Discuss, inter alia, issues relating to critical Internet resources;
- Help to find solutions to the issues arising from the use and misuse of the Internet, of particular concern to everyday users;
- Publish its proceedings
So it cannot make policy itself, but national and international policies may follow from its work. But given that people are pushing for the IGF to tackle issues such as Spam, Cybercrime, Copyrights, Patents, Trademarks and such, following the IGF makes sure that the Free Software community will not be surprised by policies that would contribute to monopolisation of the internet, and to maintain the freedom of users, developers and companies on the internet.
The Internet Governance Forum is a yearly meeting, held in different countries, and open to participation by governments, private sector and civil society.
- 2006: The Inaugural Meeting of the IGF has taken place in Athens, Greece on 30 October - 2 November.
- 2007: The 2007 IGF will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Most of the substantial discussion at the IGF takes place in the Dynamic Coalitions, which are formed ad-hoc at the IGF, and work in an open multi-stakeholder approach. These are the Dynamic Coalitions that FSFE is involved in:
- Dynamic Coalition on Open Standards
- Dynamic Coalition on Access to Knowledge (A2K) and Freedom of Expression
Sovereign Software: Open Standards, Free Software, and the Internet
FSFE contribution by its president Georg Greve to the first meeting of the Internet Governance Forum
- Official web site of the IGF: