Implementing the WSIS Principles: A Development Agenda for Internet Governance

17 November 2009 - A Workshop on Internet Governance for Development in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt


The Tunis Agenda’s WSIS principles on Internet governance comprise both procedural and substantive prescriptions. The former state that governance should be conducted in a manner that is multilateral, transparent, democratic, and fully inclusive of all stakeholders. The latter state that governance should, inter alia, ensure an equitable distribution of resources, facilitate access for all, and be an essential element of a people-centred, inclusive, development-oriented, and non-discriminatory information society. Taken together, these latter principles suggest that Internet governance should help to advance development objectives. In addition, the Tunis Agenda mandates the IGF to, “Promote and assess, on an ongoing basis, the embodiment of WSIS principles in Internet Governance processes.” Implementing the substantive WSIS principles and this element of the IGF mandate would require that stakeholders use the collaborative opportunities afforded by the IGF to assess and encourage governance mechanisms’ contributions to development. But unfortunately, the development dimension often has been overlooked in discussions of the WSIS principles and the IGF mandate. Accordingly, this workshop will help redress the problem by fostering a dialogue that takes seriously the concept of IG4D and by exploring ways to promote its realization in both the IGF and Internet governance mechanisms.

More specifically, the workshop will consider the possible establishment of a development agenda for Internet governance that would facilitate implementation of the WSIS principles and the IGF mandate. A development agenda is a holistic program of analysis and action intended to mainstream development considerations into the procedures and policy outputs of global governance mechanisms. While there have been concerted efforts to pursue such agendas in the multilateral institutions dealing with issues like international trade and intellectual property, there has been no discussion of a corresponding initiative for global Internet governance. With this in mind, a workshop entitled “Toward a Development Agenda for Internet Governance” was held at the IGF in Rio de Janeiro in 2007 Participants considered the general desirability of pursuing a development agenda and agreed that a properly configured and consensual initiative could help to promote an open, accessible, diverse, and secure global Internet. To carry the discussion forward, a second workshop entitled “A Development Agenda for Internet Governance: From Principle to Practice” was held at the IGF in Hyderabad in 2008 Here participants began to explore the possible substantive focus and operational aspects of a development agenda, and inter alia affirmed that the IGF is the most appropriate venue in which to elaborate a cross-cutting and flexible agenda that could encourage development-oriented enhancements within Internet governance institutions.

This third workshop in the series, to be held at the IGF in Sharm el Sheikh, will build on the prior discussions and seek to progress consensus building in three interrelated issue-areas: 

1. The substantive focus of a development agenda, i.e. the key institutions and issues (pertaining both to Internet infrastructures and core resources and to their use for networked information, communication, and commerce) to be assessed from a developmental baseline so as to identify best practices and guidelines that organizations could consider employing within their respective work programs. 
2. The procedural and institutional dimensions of an agenda, e.g. assessing the transparency and inclusiveness of participation, per the WSIS procedural principles, from the standpoint of people-centered development.
3. The operational aspects of pursuing an agenda in the IGF and beyond, e.g. the challenges of agenda setting, building a dynamic coalition and/or other collaborations, consensually defining assessment criteria and modalities, aggregating and presenting information, interfacing with governance stakeholders and institutions, providing feed-back mechanisms for input, etc.

Institutional Co-Sponsors

• Government of Argentina (TBC)
• Association for Progressive Communications 
• Centre for International Governance, Graduate Institute for International Studies
• Council of Europe 
• Diplo Foundation 
• Institute for Internet Policy & Law, Beijing Normal University
• Internet Society of China 
• Federal Office of Communication, Government of Switzerland 

Scheduling and Remote Participation

The workshop will be held on Day 3 of the IGF--- Tuesday 17 November, from 9:30-12:30 in Room 3, Suez Canal. 

Remote participation in the workshop will be provided for by the Center for Research on Collaboratories and Technology Enhanced Learning Communities at Syracuse University, USA. 

Information on computer system requirements and use of the webconferencing technology (Elluminate Live!) is available at:

Remote participation during the workshop will be available at 


I. Welcome and Overview by the organizer

William J. Drake
Senior Associate, Center for International Governance, Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies, Geneva, Switzerland

II. Panel Presentations

Moderator: William J. Drake


Anriette Esterhuysen
Executive Director, Association for Progressive Communications, South Africa 

Derrick Cogburn 
Associate Professor of International Relations, American University, and Senior Scientist and Chief Research Director at the School of Information Studies, Syracuse University, United States of America

Olga Cavalli
Advisor to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and representative to the Governmental Advisor Committee of ICANN, Government of Argentina

Christine Arida
Director for Telecom Planning and Services, Egyptian National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA), Government of Egypt 

Alice Munyua
Convenor, East African IGF and Kenya ICT Action Network, 
Communications Commission, Government of Kenya

Hong Xue
Professor of Law and Director of the Institute for Internet Policy & Law, Beijing Normal University, China

Fiona Alexander 
Associate Administrator (Head of Office) for International Affairs, 
National Telecommunications and Information Administration, Department of Commerce, Government of the United States

Elfa Yr Gylfadottir
Adviser, Office of cultural affairs, Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, Iceland

III. Q&A with the Panelists

IV. Group Discussion

Possible elements of a development agenda:

1. Capacity building
2. Institutional/procedural issues
3. Substantive policy issues: Governance of infrastructures
4. Substantive policy issues: Governance of networked
information, communication & commerce

How to move forward with a DA:

5. In the IGF & global IG institutions
6. Research and capacity building

V. Synthesis and Conclusion