ESCWA: Internet Governance: Challenges and Opportunities for the ESCWA Member Countries”

17 November 2009 - A Open Forum on Regional & National Initiatives in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt


In response to the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), the
United Nations convened the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), a five-year programme spanning
between 2006 and 2010 and aiming at disseminating the knowledge on Internet governance and
facilitating the global dialogue on Internet public policies in an open and inclusive process. The five
main areas of discussion of the IGF are: (a) critical Internet resource, (b) access, (c) diversity, (d)
openness, and (e) security. “Internet has become the backbone of our globalized world”; addressing
IGF-II in Brazil 2007, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon highlighted the essential role of the
Internet and its impact on socio-economic development of the world.

UN-ESCWA has been involved in Internet governance issues since 2003 with the formation
of an Arabic Domain Names Task Force, a team that worked in close cooperation with the League of
Arab States (LAS) for developing policies on the use of the Arabic character in domain names and the
creation of a new regional generic top-level domain name “.arab”.

Furthermore, during 2008-2009, UN-ESCWA completed a comprehensive study entitled
“Internet Governance: Challenges and Opportunities for the ESCWA Member Countries” to highlight
the importance of Internet governance in the Arab region and to increase the knowledge and
understanding of Internet governance and its implications on the region, while promoting the role of
Arab countries in the global Internet society.

As a pre-IGF meeting, UN-ESCWA is holding a workshop on 14 November 2009 in Sharm
El Sheikh in partnership with LAS and the Egyptian Ministry of Communications and Information
Technology to discuss the updates on the Arabic domain names as well as key Internet governance
issues that are relevant to the region. One of the main outcomes of this workshop is to draw a regional
roadmap on Internet governance. This roadmap will go through an open consultation process by
regional stakeholders during 2010, and ultimately will be finalized and ready for adoption before the
final meeting of the IGF in Lithuania.

Through this open forum, UN-ESCWA will officially launch the aforementioned study which
should be useful in formulating opinions and positions on selected issues related to Internet
governance from an Arab perspective. This study will also constitute a platform and catalyst for
activities paving the way for IGF-V and will enrich the consultation process regarding the
development of the mentioned roadmap.