The role and mandate of the IGF

6 December 2008 - A Workshop on Internet Governance Principles in Hyderabad, India


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Civil Society Internet Caucus held a workshop on the same theme, 'The role and mandate of the IGF', at IGF, Rio. A report of this first workshop is found at . It was driven by an identification of a need for regular self-appraisal of the IGF vis-à-vis its mandated role. Such a ‘periodic review’ is also required by the Tunis Agenda (paragraph 73 b). Consequently, the caucus proposes to hold a workshop with the same title during IGF, Hyderabad.

The role and mandate of the Internet Governance Forum were set out in general terms at the World Summit on the Information Society, particularly in paragraph 72 of the Tunis Agenda. However since the conclusion of the World Summit, various interpretations of this general statement of the IGF's role and mandate have been put forward and continue to be debated amongst its stakeholders. Some believe that there are elements of the IGF's mandate that have been overlooked or minimised in its operation to date. Others maintain, to the contrary, that the IGF must contain the overreaching ambitions of those who would transform it from a non-binding forum for discussion into something more. 

Since IGF Hyderabad, represents the midpoint in the initial 5 year term of the IGF after which the whole IGF process is sought to be reviewed. It will be pertinent at this midpoint to:
  1. Review how the IGF has fared till now vis-à-vis its TA mandate, and whether any structure and/or substance corrections are needed for the remaining part of its initial 5 year mandate; and
  2. What are the emerging views on post-2010 arrangements for the IGF, if one is at all needed?
There has been unmistakable improvements in the IGF format and substance since its first meeting whether it has been to include topics earlier considered too controversial (CIRs for Rio) or more focused discussions on specific issues (as per tentative program for Hyderabad). The directions of these changes vis-à-vis fulfillment of the mandate of the IGF may also be an important issue of discussion. Since paragraph 73 also speaks about a ‘decentralized structure’ it will also be worth exploring how can the IGF be decentralized beyond the present structure of a single annual event, perhaps by exploring IGF like structures at the regional and national levels (which will inter alia fulfill part of the requirements of paragraph 80) and working group working on important issues contributing to the proceedings of the annual event.