Geneva, Switzerland, 11 November 2013
Ladies and gentlemen,
Good morning and on behalf of the Secretary-General, welcome to this third meeting of the CWG on International Internet-related Public Policy Issues.
This meeting comes at a time when Internet governance is very much under the spotlight, with various aspects being discussed in multiple forums around the world, lively debate concerning international frameworks, global concerns about freedom of expression, privacy, data protection, and safety and security in cyberspace.
This is the first meeting of the group since we held the very successful World Telecommunication and ICT Policy Forum (WTPF-13) in May, where we enjoyed a very positive spirit of collaboration amongst the more than 900 participants from government, industry, academia, civil society and other governmental and non-governmental organisations.
The WTPF-13 reached agreement on six non-binding Opinions to guide Internet-related policy making, and indicated a clear recognition of the importance of continuing discussion on the role of governments in the multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance.
The success of the WTPF multi-stakeholder model of discussion, and the notion that this should not be the end of the debate, led the Secretary-General to launch a series of informal consultations on international Internet public policy, focusing on the role of governments in the multi-stakeholder model of Internet Governance, which we called “the Secretary-General’s Open Talks”.
Over the past one and a half months, they have been convened in three different formats: i) a World Café, held on 8 October in Geneva, ii) a Town Hall meeting, held on 25 October at IGF 2013, in Bali, and iii) An online crowdsourcing platform, launched last month.
Recognizing that Internet-related policy discussion concerns a wide range of stakeholders, as well as the broader public, which may not have an opportunity to participate in ITU’s formal meetings, the Secretary-General’s Open Talks have been informal, open and inclusive, in order to provide opportunities for anyone, anywhere in the world to contribute.
About 100 participants from different stakeholder groups took part in the three events, each of which brought some new perspectives, and reiterated some existing ones.The essence of the discussion from these three events is in the Secretary-General’s Information Document (document INF/1) to this meeting.
Some common themes from the three events on the role of government include:
- Establishing the necessary regulatory frameworks and legal instruments for the online protection of citizens,
- Ensuring security and combating illegal online activities,
- Helping to connect the remote and unconnected areas of the world, to enable more people to become an active part of the online community and benefit from its various opportunities,
- Safeguarding fundamental rights, such as privacy and freedom of expression, as well as ensuring the necessary awareness and education of the more vulnerable user groups such as children, and
- Improving accessibility for persons with disabilities.
Judging from the contributions to this meeting, the role of government will be one of the main issues for the meeting, and we hope that the results of the Secretary-General’s informal consultations, will help the discussion.
Ladies and gentlemen,
This meeting comes at a very important time for ITU with some major events coming up:
- The World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC) in March 2014, which will identify priorities for the development of ICTs and refine the programmes of ITU-D to better serve the needs of countries – and especially developing and least developed countries
- The WSIS+10 High Level event in April 2014 - ITU is coordinating the WSIS+10 stocktaking and review process. This is a major UN undertaking – and a fully multi-stakeholder process - in which the ITU and many other key UN organizations including UNESCO, UNCTAD, UNDP, UNDESA, WMO, UNEP, WIPO, WHO, UPU, ITC, ILO, FAO, UN Women and UN Regional Commissions are actively involved. It is expected to discuss Internet security, data protection, privacy, and freedom of expression.
- And 12 months from now we will have our Plenipotentiary conference in Busan, Republic of Korea, at which ITU Member States decide on the future role of the Union, and its ability to influence and affect the development of information and communication technologies (ICTs) worldwide.
As the key group within ITU for International Internet-related public policy issues, we encourage this group to formulate outputs that could guide these further discussions in the lead up to the Plenipotentiary conference, in the excellent spirit of collaboration that was evident at the WTPF.
I wish you a very enjoyable and productive meeting.