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IGF 2010 First Round Meeting

An open consultation to discuss the agenda of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Vilnius was held in Geneva, Switzerland on February 9, 2010. During the consultation, a discussion on the desirability of continuation of the IGF was introduced by Patrick Spearing from the United Nations Department of Economics and Social Affairs (UNDESA). UNDESA is the Secretariat department having responsibility for the report containing the recommendations of the Secretary-General on the desirability of continuation of the IGF. Mr Spearing recalled that "the forum was established by a U.N. General Assembly decision on the basis of the Tunis Agenda," and that "it will be the United Nations membership that determines whether or not to support its continuation." Mr Spearing further stressed that, "in order for the General Assembly to consider the recommendations of the Secretary-General, the report of the Secretary-General containing those recommendations must be submitted to the UN General Assembly at the 65th session later in 2010." Mr. Spearing also noted that the United Nations Economic and Social Council has primary responsibility for relations among development actors and does have a mechanism for consultation with nongovernmental organizations. Switzerland as the President of the United Nations Commission on Science and Technology (CSTD) made a point concerning the multistakeholder approach. "The United Nations Commission on Science and Technology has the advantage of taking a broader approach to the multistakeholder aspect. By that I mean, that the CSTD also provides for consultations with the private sector, which ECOSOC does not do. And also with a broader view of consultations with civil society." Prof. Wolfgang Kleinwächter criticizes the decision. He stressed, "this is part of a bigger story to move backwards, to cancel openness, transparency and bottom up policy development process and to withdraw from the principle of "multistakeholderism". He further stressed that the decision's aims is "to get the Internet policy processes back under control of an intergovernmental regime and to silence non-governmental stakeholders, at least if it comes to public policy issues and decision making." Prof. Kleinwächter added, "This recognition of the principle of "multistaklehoderism" in the Tunis Agenda 2005 was the biggest conceptual achievement in WSIS and was in particular accepted as a guiding principle for Internet Governance in contrast to a "one stakeholder (intergovernmental) approach". The acceptance of civil society as an "equal parter" (in their specific role) was a big step for civil society, Prof. Kleinwächter emphasized. Later in 2010, the United Nations General Assembly will decide if it should extend the Internet Governance Forum's initial five-year mandate, based on a review of its work as well as its achievements.

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