Internet Governance Forum: Identyfing the Impact

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Williams, Deirdre
Milovanovic, Goran S.
Paque, Ginger Virginia
Maciel, Marilia
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DiploFoundation In Partnership with AT&T - Arab Republic of Egypt Ministry of Communications and Information Technology - Commonwealth Internet Governance Forum
The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is in its fourth year of existence. It is too soon to draw any firm conclusions, but it has been long enough to recognise some emerging patterns and trends. Our attempt to identify the impact of the IGF is coloured by this dialectic. The IGF is still a work in progress and is definitely viewed by participants from this perspective. For some it is an autonomous body, and the only way to manage such a multidisciplinary field as Internet governance. Some see the IGF only as the result of the Tunis compromise around Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)-related issues. For still others it is a unique experiment in multilateral diplomacy which will shape the future of diplomacy. This list will continue to grow. These different perceptions influence the different ways of evaluating the impact of the IGF. The process of evaluation has already started. Many stakeholders have already offered their reflections. There are articles, such as the Organization of American States (OAS) editorial1 and Presentation of the Month2 (both in Spanish) and the considerable body of comments available on the IGF website in reply to the IGF questionnaire3, and other reviews such as “Kenya: Contribution to the IGF Review”4 (see the bibliography for more information). What is specific about our study? First, like the IGF itself, it is a multistakeholder partnership combining the efforts of DiploFoundation Introduction (NGO), AT&T (business), the Ministry of Telecommunications of Egypt (government) and the Commonwealth IGF (international initiative). Second, it tries to identify systemic and structural impacts related to the creation of a framework for Internet governance. Third, with more than 200 respondents from 7 geographical regions and 81 countries, the online survey attempts to harness the wisdom of the wide-ranging Internet governance community. As you will see, the study combines qualitative and quantitative methodologies. It includes insights from acknowledged experts, personal interviews and statistical analysis. The study should provide another piece in the emerging mosaic of the IGF. While we tried to present an in-depth analysis, we are aware of the limitations of any research on such a large, complex, dynamic and fast-changing phenomenon as the IGF.“Communication is a fundamental social process, a basic human need and the foundation of all social organization. It is central to the Information Society. Everyone, everywhere should have the opportunity to participate and no one should be excluded from the benefits the Information Society offers.” We have tried to make this a guiding principle in this piece of research.