Internet Governance Forum, Athena
'Internet Governance for Development'
During the WSIS, Geneva Phase, heads of states and government acknowledged that the Internet is a central element of the emerging information society infrastructure, while recognizing that there are different views on the suitability of current institutions and mechanisms for managing processes and developing policies for the global Internet. For this reason, they requested the Secretary-General to set up a Working Group on Internet Governance, with a view to preparing the ground for negotiations at the second phase of the WSIS, Tunis 2005.
The Working Group of Internet Governance in turn recommended the formation of a forum for the global discussion of Internet-related matters, including public policy matters, a resolution that was adopted by consensus in Tunis. Two consultation rounds were held in Geneva to formulate the agenda of the first IGF meeting, to be held in Athenslate October.
H.E. the former Secretary General of the United Nations Mr. Kofi Annan extended invitations to all stakeholders and relevant parties to participate at the inaugural meeting of the IGF. By making use of the World Wide Web, he invited all stakeholders: governments, the private sector and civil society, including the academic and technical communities, to attend the first meeting of the IGF in Athens. The overall theme of the meeting is 'Internet Governance for Development'.
The main purpose of the Athens meeting was to discuss a wide range of issues related to Internet Governance, and, where appropriate, to make recommendations to the international community. The working and function of the Forum was multilateral, multi-stakeholder democratic and transparent.
The IGF in its first meeting in Athens has included a number of critical questions on its agenda;
Diversity of the Internet is one of most important aspects of Internet Governance to be disc ussed in Athens. It’s really what makes the Internet this globalized, and makes it also this globalizing.
Access on the other side represents what could be really considered as the number one challenge for the Internet and the Information Society in Africa.
Security on the Internet and security of the Internet is becoming more and more a pressing need and challenge. Cyber security, cyber crime, spam, malicio us software, fraud and identity theft, all are now more challenging than never before, especially for developing countries where the Internet user has to bare the high cost even without adding security costs. Not to mention that some of these threats are tremendo usly difficult, if not impossible, to completely stop without international cooperation efforts.
Openness encompassing the freedom of expression, free flow of information and ideas, empowerment and access to knowledge, is indeed what keeps the Internet this unique. It’s really hard to argue against those who claim that this specific feature of the Internet is what made the Internet grow this fast around the globe. Access to knowledge is key to human development in an information society and crucial for the democratic participation, and social and economic empowerment.
The meeting was open for all WSIS accredited entities. Other institutions and persons with proven expertise and experience in matters related to Internet governance may also apply to attend.
A website (www.igfgreece2006.gr) has already been created specifically for the Athens meeting. Its primary function will be to keep everyone informed of developments pertaining to organizational arrangements, give periodic updates and assessments of the state of play and in general ensure a smooth, predictable and successful meeting in Athens in 2006.
A number of workshops were held during the forum to discuss issues within context or related to the four main topics of the forum. The NTRA in collaboration with the ICANN and the UNESCO organized a workshop on Multilingualism of the Internet under the title of “Towards a multilingual global Internet: Avoiding the risk of fragmentation” . The workshop focused on challenges and opportunities related to the realization of a fully internationalized Internet.
The workshop program included speakers with different backgrounds and expertise, representing governments, private sector and end-user communities from different regions of the world. For info on the proposal, please refer to http://info.intgovforum.org/wksp57.php
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