Building on previous literature and ongoing initiatives and given the unprecedented pervasiveness of Internet in modern society, UNESCO perceives a need for a more consolidated conceptualization and holistic approach to address the ever-increasing complexity of the ecosystem of the Internet and its governance. UNESCO is thus canvassing a new concept of “Internet Universality”, which could be understood as a heuristic to highlight the interdependence of the components of this uniquely open ecosystem - the normative, technical, social, etc. and the inseparability between issues of access, use and expression.
UNESCO envisages this concept to highlight an Internet that is free and rights-based, open, accessible for all, and nurtured by multi-stakeholder participation, and therefore serving as an overarching framework and shared approach to shape the future of global Internet governance and facilitate international multi-stakeholder cooperation.
In a nutshell, the concept highlights the Internet for the people (the utility of the facility for global humanity), by the people (the growing number of stakeholders who create and use the Internet), and of the people (governance norms should be shared, and not vested in one single constituency).
For this aim, it is important to trigger debate and reach consensus at IGF meetings on the key components of the concept of Internet Universality: i) free and right based, (ii) open, (iii) accessible and (iv) multi-stakeholder driven. The discussion will be convened in following areas at the session:
- sharing of existing initiatives and challenges of Internet Universality as an overarching concept
- exploring the harmony of Internet access and use with the principles and the freedoms asserted in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)
- examining the engagement of international organizations within the framework of this concept
- identifying the implications for multi-stakeholder dialogue and collaboration under such a conceptual framework
The Concept paper (summary and full version) is available at the link: