14 SEPTEMBER 10
INTRODUCTION TO THE IGF FOR NEWCOMERS
Note: The following is the output of the real-time captioning taken during Fifth Meeting of the IGF, in Vilnius. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the session, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
Hello. We'll start in about two minutes.
Hello. Hello. This also works. Mine works. All right.
Good morning. Let's start, I think. Hi, good morning. My name is Chengetai Masango. I am the programming technology manager of the Internet Governance Forum, the Secretariat. This section is just an introduction to the IGF. So make sure you're in the right room. And then we'll start.
My first question before I start is, how many of you, is this the first IGF for you, for how many?
[ LAUGHTER ]
But you are basically aware of what the IGF is, if I'm correct, right. Have any of you attended the regional IGF's at least? Regional IGF's, anybody? All right. That's good.
So first, I'm going to start by explaining a little bit about the technical aspects of this meeting and the nature of this meeting and then we'll go on to explain in greater detail the themes and then finishing last, what the history of the IGF.
So as you all are aware, the IGF is a UN meeting, but it's not a United Nations meeting in the classical sense because UN meetings are basically intergovernmental. And one of the unique aspects of the IGF is that it is a multistakeholder. And we encourage everybody with an interest in Internet governance to attend.
And after the declaration, which Wolfgang is going to go into later, we have five main stakeholder groups. That's government, society, private sector, the academic and technical community, and intergovernmental organizations like UNESCO, etcetera.
Also the IGF, the nature of the meetings, because most UN meetings, somebody stands up on a podium, speaks, then the next person does it, you know. We encourage interaction that people can --because the main purpose of the IGF to encourage discussion. So all the meetings should be as interactive as possible. We don't encourage PowerPoint slides, so I'm not going to show any PowerPoint slides.
We encourage everybody to take part. If you want to say something, you can just raise your hands. In most of these sessions, they usually speak and then you have a question time.
The rooms are arranged in such a way to encourage discussion. This room is roundtable. It's easier to speak instead of the classroom style. There are some classroom style rooms, round tables, square tables. So it's all set up to encourage discussion and interaction.
There's no order of speaking. Everybody participates in an equal footing. I mean, as far as we're concerned in the discussion, if a member of civil society puts their hand up before government, the civil society person speaks first and then the government speaks because everybody is supposed to have equal opportunity to give their points of view.
And as you know, this is a little bit different because usually governments have the sole right to represent their citizens. And you might have people from a country having three points of view on a subject.
Also another major difference from classical meetings in the United Nations is also that we have a soft governance approach. We don't really have -- at the end of the meeting, there is no signing of conventions, etcetera. This is partly, we don't tell people, okay, you've left this meeting. You have these points and everybody must follow them.
We are following the Internet style basically. We have discussions and then people can go home and then in their institutions say, well, I heard this, people are doing it this way here. These are the list of factors that I think we should try and do it here.
Also connections, if somebody has a problem and they met somebody on the Internet Governance Forum, they can contact them later, etcetera, and strengthen the Internet in their country.
So we call that a soft governance approach. Also, it's very difficult to vote on things of a multistakeholder nature because how do you know when you have a quorum. And we're not. That's another reason why we use the soft governance approach.
As you know, we have workshops and we have the plenary session. I will not go into too much detail on how the workshops work because I will let the speaker speak on that straight after me.
You lift up your hand, if the moderator in the workshops acknowledges you, press the button on the mic, say your name and your question. In the main hall, which is bigger and, of course, the organization is different in the main hall, we have standing microphones where people can line up and then they can speak in order. Or they can raise their hands and there are ushers there who will give you a piece of paper and you can write your questions on a piece of paper which will be brought up to the podium.
Also you have to identify yourself because as you can see, we have transcription, live transcription here. And they are working remotely in the workshop rooms but in the main room, they are there but you still have to identify your name and your affiliation. If you're making a personal statement, you can also say, "This is a personal statement." But we'd like to know who is talking.
As you've got your bag, you've got the list, right. You know where everything is. There's a dinner tonight. The buses leave at 6:00. Oh, more people. Great. Take a seat if you can. If you can't, stand. That's fine.
So that's just the practical aspects. Does anybody have questions on practical aspects as such concerning the meeting, the IGF meeting?
[ Laughter ]
So you all know what's happening. We all know about the workshops. You all know how to behave in the workshops and in the main session. You're not afraid to ask questions. You know how to bring attention to yourself. Just raise your hand.
Nothing? Yes. Thank you. Microphone. The button on the bottom.
Some people need French translation, for example. Where can we get the headphones for it? I looked for them around, didn't find them.
First of all, before I answer your question, remember the order, your name, affiliation.[ LAUGHTER ] and then the question.
Riyad from Morocco.
Translation is only available in the main hall.
I checked and I didn't find it.
Maybe they are a little behind. But they should be next to it. And of course, when you finish, please remember to take off your microphone. Otherwise, we'll have feedback.
Okay. All right. Thank you. So yes. Okay.
This is a question. My name is Andrey Shcherbovich. I am from the Moscow State University, high school economics. And the question is related to the subject, how the multistakeholder approach could really provide political measures to straighten the Internet, to confirm availability of information, accessibility of information, etcetera. How would it be possible because of the soft governance approach. Thank you.
Okay. Thank you. Can I leave that question until more in the middle because this was just for practical arrangements. And then we'll go to the workshops and then the history and then we'll discuss more of the stuff like your question is for. We'll get back to you. I understand your question, and I've noted it. Thank you.
Okay. I'll call on Nurani to speak about the IGF themes and workshops.
Okay. I'll try to lead by example. My name is Nurani. I'm with a technical organization based in Sweden. I'm a member of the Multistakeholder Advisory Group. So a few of us are here to try to give you an image of what the IGF is about.
So I promised Chengetai I would speak about the overall themes for the IGF. Every IGF has had one overall theme. And out of that, a few main themes for the whole conference. So for example, the very first IGF was --
Yes, but I think the very first one was developing -- sorry. Rio de Janeiro, it was recognized where it was an important part of governance. In the Hyderabad, the theme was Internet forum. And in Egypt last year, it was Internet governance, creating opportunities. And this year is, IGF 2010, developing the future together. So those have been the overall themes. Within that, there are a few main themes for the meetings. So this year, it's been critical Internet resources. That's one of the main sessions. Internet governance for development, ID4D. Access and security, security, openness, and privacy, and emerging issues. And this year it's cloud computing.
So having said that, it's maybe also important to point out that development and access and diversity, when we've been discussing the main themes for the conference, it's been recognized that these things should feed into all the sessions.
So development and accessibility have been sort of underlying themes in all the various sessions. So what you'll find, the formats have varied a little bit from year to year. There's always been a set of workshops on very specific issues that are smaller where people can discuss in a more interactive way. And then we've had the main sessions in the big auditoriums.
This year, we tried to link these a little bit more so what you'll find, if you go to the Web site and you look at every session, you'll see that there will be a set of workshops that feed into that main session. So we tried to schedule it so that there would be workshops maybe in the beginning of the week that feed into main sessions later on.
So although a lot of the main sessions have been set in terms of speakers, etcetera, there will be adjustments made throughout the week based on outcomes from the workshops. So that's a way of trying to increase the participation as well, getting people to participate in the workshops and they're interested in things that come out of that, that will feed into the main sessions.
So that's a little bit what -- yes, the themes that you'll see this week. Like I said, although the workshop is a little bit smaller, maybe a little bit more interactive, I'd actually like to reemphasize what Chengetai said. The auditorium is very big and looks formal, but in fact, anyone can participate. Anyone can get their name written down on a note so they can make a statement if they want to or ask a question to the panel. And I don't know if Chengetai will be speaking a little about the remote participation as well. I just thought I'd throw that in. Because that's important to point out, I think.
So over the years, we have, remote participation is not really focused on you guys because you are supposed to be here. Over the years, you have other people back at home that are interested or your friends that we do, every single session here is webcast over the Internet. And there's also transcription that goes live over the Internet. And we've also got a Webex platform where people can actively interact remotely in the sessions. Even right now, we have one, if we have anybody who has a remote question, we will say it out. And it's also video.
So all this information, by the way, is available on our web page. Has everybody been to the Internet Governance Forum web page at least? To register, you had to, I guess. So you can look around there.
Since we are getting short of time because I really want to emphasize the discussion aspect, I will give it over to Wolfgang who is going to say about the history.
Thank you, Chengetai. I will be very brief. My name is Wolfgang Kleinwächter. I am at the University of Aarhus in Denmark. I am a special advisor to the chair of the Internet Governance Forum since 2006. So I am involved in the IGF from the very early days. So I can give you a very brief background why we have the IGF and what the basic idea behind the IGF, and this covers also probably a little bit the question which was asked by our friend from Moscow.
The history of the IGF goes back into the early days of the United Nations, some of the information society, which was originally convened to discuss how to bridge the digital divide. But in the discussion on the world summit, the question of Internet and Internet governance became rather quickly a key issue for the discussion for the summit.
The discussion which ended in the year 2003 in Geneva had this big controversy over how the Internet should be governed on the table. And there were two different approaches which were in deep conflict. One side said, okay, the Internet was developed by the private sector and should continue to be led by the private sector. So it was private sector leadership. While another group, mainly governments from developing countries and in particular the government of China, said, okay, private sector leadership was good for one million Internet users but now we have one billion Internet users. And now the governments have to take over the management of the Internet. So it was a question between private sector leadership versus government leadership.
And if you have no chance to find a compromise, if you have no answer, then you create a working group and delegate this to the working group. And so Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations, invited to develop a group to find a solution how to bridge these two approaches between private sector leadership and government leadership. And this United Nations working group on Internet governance called the VIGIG produced an interesting, innovative idea and said, Internet is not about leadership. The Internet is about communication, bringing various groups together and managing the various issues in a very specific way. There is no centre of the Internet and there should be no central organization for the Internet.
And before we come to certain decisions, we have to have a dialogue among the various groups, the people who have a mandate to make decisions understand better what's going on. They have to understand the technical issues, the technical people have to understand the political implications. The business people should have more knowledge about what the users want to have. And the users, the Internet user should also have a clue what are the political, the technical, and the economic implications.
And the only way you can stimulate such a dialogue was to establish something totally new, not the traditional United Nations intergovernmental organization or not a new private corporation like ICANN. The idea was to have a platform for discussion. And this was then labeled the Internet Governance Forum, which came out from the working group on Internet governance. The first idea, by the way, came from the civil society in the first phase of the business. And when they made a proposal to the second phase of the summit in Tunis in 2005, the heads of state more or less said, probably this is a good idea. There was no better idea on the table in 2005 to move forward than to establish such a discussion platform.
There's no decision making capacity but with the power of inspiration, the power, you know, to enable people then to make the right decisions in the organizations where they have a mandate to make decisions.
And it was certainly an experiment. And it got amended only for five years. At this time in 2005, nobody really knew whether this will be a success story or a failure, whether this would be talking shop or just people coming together, exchange views and disappear and nothing is happening.
But after five years now, and this is the interesting point of the story of the recent history is, that obviously it works, such mechanism, which has not the duty to produce a declaration that everybody agrees, has opened minds and mouths of people. People from industry, ministers, parliamentary, all these various groups are coming here to the IGF and can speak freely.
This is very often not the case if you are in a negotiation process with other governments. This is very often not the case if you are at a specific stakeholder meeting where only technical people or business people or users are together. Here you go across various stakeholder groups, people coming out and exchanging views with people who are sitting in a different silo.
So this is the beauty of the whole thing, to have a liberated discussion that the IGF opens, as I said, mind and mouth, and you are able then to go home in your institution, go home to your government, to your corporation, to your intergovernmental organization or what else, then have a mandate to make decisions, decisions in the light of the experiences you have here.
And so far, the IGF has a number of functions which are not traditional functions of an intergovernmental organization. The IGF is like a laboratory where you test out new forms of policy.
It's like an observatory, where you watch what's going on in the world. It's like a clearinghouse where you can clear, who does what. It's like a watchdog, which observes very critically what the various organizations are doing and raises critical questions. It's also a school where you can learn from each other. And it's a scout where can you find out what will be the next problem, cloud computing, Internet things, social networks and all of this.
So far, it's very open, very free. And what Chengetai introduced. This is reflected in the procedures of the IGF. It means everybody can speak. Everybody can join. It is very low barrier. Everybody can come and just discuss, if you compare this with the economic forum. You have to pay a high price, very selective in going to the world economic forum. There is no entrance barrier to go to the Internet Governance Forum. The mandate comes to an end, the second committee of the General Assembly will discuss this in November and December. And the general assembly of the United Nations will then make a decision how to continue with the IGF. We have an invitation from the government of Kenya to host the 6th IGF in Nairobi if the United Nations decides to continue with the IGF. I also invite you to take this to your plans here in Vilnius to discuss how the future could be. It's still a baby. It's still in the cradle. But it has huge potential. And the IGF will be as good as the participants in the IGF arm. And so far, the IGF, this is you. These the participants, the 2000 participants which come to Vilnius to participate in the remote participation.
Again, this is just a great opportunity. It's up to us how the future of the IGF looks like. Thank you very much.
All right. Thank you, Wolfgang. From what I see, the only thing that's left is to explain the structure of the IGF. We have the Secretariat, which is based in Geneva. And from that, we also have the multistakeholder advisory group. And some of the members are here. Do I have a volunteer to explain what the MAG is? Okay.
Thank you, Chengetai. My name is Olga Cavalli. I'm from Argentina. I'm an advisor to the government of Argentina. I'm also a university teacher. I am a MAG member since the second year of the MAG existence. What we're doing with the MAG is to prepare, to discuss with each other interesting issues that should be talked about during the IGF and how they should be addressed, how to organize the agenda, how to organize the workshops and the main sessions. For example, through the years, we realized that people wanted more participation, wanted more space for addressing questions and making comments. So from very long panels, now we're going to short speeches in the panels and more time for discussing and having more questions.
And also the workshops idea that was already mentioned came to us after the experience of finding certain distance in between the workshops and the main sessions. So now we have some workshops related with main sessions. And there will be short reports when the main session starts with information that was gathered from the smaller workshops to the main sessions. So mainly our role is to think about which are the issues that should be addressed during the IGF, how to order them in the agenda, how to manage issues in between the agenda and the workshops. Then we also select the proposal, the workshop proposals that we received that some selected, some of them are requested to be merged just because they are very similar. And as you can see, the venue is big. We usually have big venues for the IGF, but space is challenging. We don't have space for all the workshops that are requested to exist.
So we do some work in selecting and ordering them and trying to put them together if they fit into one subject. And then there is all the information about workshops is then delivered to the Secretariat, and they do all the information about CV's, names, and all what is necessary to be published then in the program.
If I'm forgetting something, just -- other friends from the MAG are welcome to add comments to me. Thank you.
My name is Stephen LaU from Hong Kong. I am also a member of MAG, the multistakeholder advisory group. I've been a member for three years now. And I just want to supplement or add in some of my observations, particularly for the newcomers to IGF.
I spent most of my life in the business world. And when I first joined and understood that IGF has no decision making power. So it's mainly to me is like talk shop. Now, if you are from the business world, you tend to be skeptical of talk shops because you always like to say that whatever we do, we should have some decision making power where life move on and goes forward.
As was explained by Wolfgang and others, unlike the usual UN business whereby it's more intergovernmental, it tends to have motions on which you I need to vote, about which you need to take a position. And most government, not all government, like in any motion, would have some preconceived positions in mind which, therefore, made the dialogue sometimes really partial with positions.
So look at IGF from the point of view of, as was mentioned, the multistakeholders approach whereby every one of the multistakeholders, whether they are government, whether they are NGO's, whether they are business enterprises, civil liberties, they have an equal say and equal footing and equal air time at IGF whereby any -- the civic Internet government issue is being discussed.
Now, with no positioning, preconceived or otherwise, so it would be a very, very frank kind of discussion whereby, without taking a position, there would be very frank discussion, frank views upon which, given the tension there's always been, there always exists between different stakeholders in terms of the primary objectives, but at least the opportunity to be able to listen to views on the others. You hope that through this process, you could from diversity, hopefully you can get some convergence and thereby hopefully influence your government and your society in terms of how you look at a particular issue.
So this point about a multistakeholder approach, equal footing, equal air time, equal waiting, I think is one of the, why this has been, for me anyway, from skepticism to, I would say, credibility. And it was mentioned early on, success.
I just want to add in one additional observation is that coming to IGF, as I said, I came in from the business world. So we tend to be very sort of focused upon specific business objectives. But once you are with the IGF, as you will find out later on in the next few days, it is a tremendous journey of knowledge, of discovery because you're exposed to so many different perspectives.
You know, before I came here, I'm not aware of the idea of multilingualism. The view of the Internet from poverty, from physically challenged, from NGO's, and privacy and security, how they should be accommodated and all that. So you would learn a lot. Your horizon should be broadened by such infusion of knowledge and also urge you all to contribute.
We're all here for a certain objective. We have a lot of knowledge maybe in some particular areas. Please contribute and promote and provide your particular thought leadership, your particular views, particular perspectives relating to a subject matter such that the sum of all the parts will be greater than the whole. Thank you.
Thank you very much.
The next thing, with the MAG, there's also special advisors to the Chair. These are people who have -- who can make distinct skills, distinct contributions and kept by the Chair to advise the Chair. And Wolfgang is one of them.
Also with the IGF, there are dynamic coalitions. Now, these dynamic coalitions are groupings, they just came up from one of our previous meetings. And these dynamic coalitions are groupings of like-minded individuals, companies, or governments who specifically work towards one goal and to discuss issues surrounding one goal.
And if you go to the Web site, there's a dynamic coalitions link in intergov forum. It's on the screen there. You can see, for example, dynamic coalition on Internet and climate change, child online safety, open standards. So if you want to join one of these dynamic coalitions, the contact information of the organizer is there on the dynamic coalition page. And I do encourage you to do so. If you just click one of them, like the top one or whatever, you'll see a list of members when the computer works. Essentially you have a list of members and the contact person and reports from previous meetings.
Also there's the regional IGFs, which I think I should also point out. And we have regional IGFs which talk about local and regional issues, I mean, national and regional issues in particular areas. And we have the Asia-Pacific region, Caribbean region. So when you go home, you can just look up which is your regional IGF. And you can contact these people. It's on the Web site. And you can join the discussion there locally. And all these regional and national IGFs, their discussions feed into the national IGF.
Before I open up to questions, does anybody have, from the MAG group, have got anything else to say or to contribute? Yes.
Thanks. My name is Waudo Siganga. I want to add another perspective to the issue of the composition of the MAG. The MAG, other than just being multistakeholder reflecting the current of the IGF, also tries to bring out correct representation from -- that represents something of diversity. That is particularly geographic diversity.
So within the MAG, apart from the stakeholders that the Chairman mentioned, that is the civil society, governments, and business and the international organizations, we also find that they try to make sure that these representations from all -- that there's representation from all parts of the world. The ones that spoke, you can see that somebody is from Argentina. Another from Hong Kong, I'm from Kenya, Africa, and so on and so forth, so to represent the global character of the Internet itself. So I think that's an important point that I just wanted to bring out. Thank you.
Thank you very much. Questions? Yes.
The live feed that we're getting here, is that accessible through the IGF Web site, or is that a different Web site?
Through the IGF Web site, you can find the links to it. I won't explain the back structure, but yes, all the links are available on the Web site and the remote participation link.
Any other questions? Remember, discussion.
I'm Bill Smith from PayPal in the United States. I just wanted to ask about the format of the IGF, multistakeholder model and information. To put perhaps a little more background on that and talk about the IETF, the Internet Engineering Task Force, which in essence has used this model since its first meeting in 1986 where individuals come and participate.
There are extremely low to no barriers to participation. People representing the same company will come in with different views. It's interesting to actually see them argue against each other and their company's interests. And it is a model that has worked. The technical underpinnings of the Internet are what they are because of the manner in which the IETF functions. They have no authority to mandate the standards that it promulgates. The standards it produces are only used if they turn out to be productive.
And this is a model that I as a businessperson have seen is very effective on technology. And I've also participated in some other much smaller groups in the IGF using a multistakeholder approach bringing in business, NGO's, and government to sit at the same table. It is a highly effective model for actually getting work done even when decisions aren't made. Thank you.
Thank you very much. Any other comments, questions, interventions?
SIEW ENG CHUAH:
I'm Siew Eng from the Centre for Independence in Malaysia. What's the difference between the relationship between the national, regional and this IGF? You said just now that the regional IGF feeds into the national IGF. Does the reverse work as well?
Basically, there's no kind of formal structure or legal structure as such. Let's talk about the example of Kenya. Kenya has, just as an example, Kenya has a national IGF. And they discuss issues that are important to them as Kenyans, you know. It was mainly access. Now it's turning towards all the other issues. And then when they're finished discussing, they go to the east African IGF as well. And they discuss amongst the East African community what's important to them. When they've done that, they can come to the global IGF here. And they are given the opportunity to contribute on what they think is important, what should we discuss and what their issues are. And people from other regions can give their input, share knowledge if they have best practices, and they can go home enriched with what they have learned from all these different levels and implement that or have an idea which will change the way they do something and, you know, back and forth. So it's just back and forth. It's a feedback loop which we encourage because we found out that discussion is very important. Any -- yes?
Nicola Lugaresi from Trento University, Italy. My question is, people are stakeholders like government and businesses, but how do people know that they could be stakeholders? I mean, if I ask in Italy if they know about IGF or MAG, probably if it's 0.0001 percent, it would be the rate. So what can be done for people to know that they can be stakeholders?
Yes, that's a good question. You can go back home and say, wow, you went to this great conference where they discussed all these Internet issues. If you're interested in Internet public policy issues, please come. And Italy itself has got an IGF. It's got a national IGF. And you can connect with them as well and help propagate this idea and participation.
So yes. I mean, the power of the IGF is with the participants. I mean, we're all helping each other do things. You don't expect somebody to do things for you, just sit down. It's just like the main thing behind the Internet as well.
Maybe if I could just add to that, I think one way of disseminating information and knowledge about the IGF is through some preexisting organizations in the countries, in the different countries. And speaking from the perspective of the stakeholder, I would say in almost every country, you find organizations representing the business community.
In most countries, these are usually chambers of commerce. The way we have organized ourselves as business stakeholders or business community within IGF traditionally has been through an organization known as the Basis, which stands for Business participation in the information society. So through the organization of the international chamber of commerce, we're able to disseminate information about the IGF through national chambers of commerce. So that's just one way, one of the examples. I'm sure that the other stakeholders will also have their top-down methodologies for getting information about the IGF. Thank you.
Also, I'd like to say, if somebody asks a question and somebody feels like they can answer it, please put your hand up as well, because discussion, as I said, underlined.
Next question, comment? We have ten minutes left. Yes?
Thank you. My name is Tshihumbudzo from South Africa. Can you hear me? Can you hear me? My name is Tshihumbudzo from South Africa. I have three questions. First, during the presentations that you have for the multistakeholder forum, but I did not hear much about the funding processes. I would appreciate if you can elaborate how the IGF is funded and also the MAG, how often do they meet and how they are also funded. Is it individual or is it through the UN or is it all stakeholders.
My second question relates to the impact analysis. How do you assess the impact that IGF has as a laboratory of ideas, as a forum where we exchange ideas. How do you take those ideas and then you implement them on the ground. So do you have a mechanism where you assess how the IGF has actually translated into practical policies on the ground. Yes. That's all I have for now. Thanks.
Okay. Thank you very much. No volunteers to answer? So I will answer. For the funding, the IGF is funded off of a trust fund. So it's extra budgetary. It's not the main -- it doesn't take its funds from the United Nation's Secretariat's main budget, which all countries pay a certain amount to the United Nations. We're extra budgetary, so we actually have to source our own funds. So many, of course, countries are the biggest donors but also companies, regional NRO's, ISP's also fund the IGF. And all this money goes into a trust fund which is used for the running of the IGF and also for funding some participation from developing countries.
We do not have that much money, unfortunately, because, you know, with -- there's a high competition for funds in any case and also the global downturn has also affected the amount that governments can give us. The major donors are listed on our Web site under "Funding." Some of these funds do go to fund MAG attendance, but a great number of the MAGs fund themselves to come to the meetings in Geneva. At the moment, we are holding all our meetings in Geneva but this might change next year.
So a great number of them fund themselves or they get funding from other sources. The MAG meets three times a year or four times a year this year, I think, to discuss things. And we also do a lot of online things through the List Servs, etcetera. Impact analysis, we've had a review last year where people have said what they thought about the IGF and how the IGF has benefited them. So it is not a running analysis. We have input from the various stakeholders and they tell us what they impact.
Remember, for the IGF, it's a second order impact because people come here and then they go home and implement what they -- it's not the IGF directly. Do I make myself clear, second order impact? Okay.
I think that's it, unless somebody wants to add something else. No? Okay. Next question?
CHARLES KANLAH GAYE:
My name is Charles Gaye from Liberia. And I'm here as an ambassador from the Internet Society. My question is, the Internet should be for everybody. IGF is a forum to meet and discuss about an evolution of the Internet, take into consideration the benefit of everyone. Suppose I came to this meeting and decisions have been made, ideas
have been raised. And then try to translate this perhaps to my government or to policy makers.
And they have their own way of doing things. They don't want to do it the IGF way; perhaps take into consideration child protection, freedom of speech, poverty, reduction strategy when it comes to IGF. Suppose in the government, there is no one to implement such ideas. What is the next thing that IGF can do?
Well, I don't have -- I mean, the IGF cannot do anything -- I mean, we have no coercive power. We cannot force people to follow recommendations or things that another person has found interesting here. But it's just like the Internet. I mean, if you want to work on the Internet, HTML, like the standards for HTML for web pages, those aren't hard and fast rules. They are recommendations: This is how you build a Web site. This is how you build a Web page.
So the more people who follow that, the better it is for them to access the Internet and get the information across. So the same with governments. I mean, if they are part of the global -- because the Internet has no borders. It's a global community. So I think you just have to try and make groups, get people interested. And eventually, it may change. It is the Internet, and people do want to get on the Internet. I'm sure at home people do want to get on the Internet. And what people find out here is, you know, good practices.
Sorry I don't have any specific answer for you.
CHARLES KANLAH GAYE:
Just a clarification, the last question, he mentioned the words, the IGF way. So I think you need to make a clarification about that, whether there's actually an IGF way that emanates from the meetings that we hold. I know that these meetings, we come here to exchange ideas, to network. Do we ever come up with an IGF way of doing things?
Well, I mean, the IGF cannot impose, we're not imposing. We're a discussion forum. So when I say the IGF way, I just say the way that we do things here, you know, discussing things, you know, arguing things out and trying to come to a common understanding. That's what I mean. But there's no definitive thing that you can use. Did that answer the question?
I'll get that gentleman first to go. Sorry.
My name is Frank-Charles Osafo, of Vericloud and Petrina representing Ghana and the United States. From my take, from our understanding is that the IGF is, like you said, a discussion forum and is more what I would consider an information gathering process where people share information and ideas. Somebody had mentioned the Internet engineering task force. While that is also often, that has the power of recommendation through the RC's, their recommendations. They actually do provide standards and things that happen on the Internet.
Now, there's also an organization, W3C, which is the worldwide consortium, which as you mentioned, HTML, that standard, some of their standards. So I think -- this is my first time in the IGF. And what I've already seen is that you can come here, gather the information, find out what's going on, and you can also join the other organizations, like IETF where actually you can also bring the ideas up to them where they have the power of the RFC's to make things happen. Because they actually do implement. And there are some other organizations. This has been my first time. I've already seen the power of this forum. I think it's very, very useful. You meet all kinds of people, all different ideas. But some of us who also belong to other organizations can then take some of these ideas to go there and try to make it happen.
Thank you very much.
I'd just like to add to that, I think for a lot of people especially from a government background, the IGF is a strange beast and it's got a different format to what people are used to. The two important principles that are important to understand, one is the multistakeholderism, and the other is that it is a non-decision making forum. These two characteristics might be a little bit strange for people who are not used to that.
But I think the IGF throughout the years has developed into a very, very useful forum. I think the multistakeholderism is something that has been a model in the technical community where anyone can participate and contribute. And you don't have to have a particular position. You don't need to represent a particular government. And decisions -- well, let's just say that policies are made and in the IGF, for example, standards are actually developed, although they're not governments coming together in a UN forum.
So it is a model that has worked and that actually allows the forums to respond to changes in the Internet, changes in technology. It makes for a very flexible forum. I think the other part with the IGF being a non-decision making forum, I actually think that's one of the major strengths of the IGF. It means that governments and other multistakeholders can come together and discuss particular issues, exchange experience, and allows the governments to go back to their countries and make decisions freely so then the IGF doesn't impose any decisions or any way of thinking on governments. And I think that's one of the strengths.
Okay. Thank you. We'll try and squeeze you in. You are waiting for a question.
I was curious, you say this may well be the last year of the IGF depending on how the UN decides whether it should proceed in November, December time.
Should the IGF be disbanded, is there anything like it which could take its place and do what the IGF does currently?
I'll just say, we'll wait and see.
[ LAUGHTER ]
Let me give this lady --
I just wanted to say that when we got to the regional IGFs, particularly the Kenya IGFs and the east African IGF, it will continue with respect to whether the main IGF continues or not.
Hi. I'm Marina Maria from the Brazilian secretariat. And I'm here representing the Women's Program of Association for Progressive Communications. I would like to know, how are you working to implement a more equality gender meeting, IGF?
Yes, we are, and that is one of our concerns. The gender balance has improved over the years. And I think it's quite high. I can give you -- I think it's over -- but it has improved. And we've been working, especially, you know, through our MAG members and through our outreach efforts to encourage women to come. And I think we are one of the -- we've got the highest, one of the highest percentages of -- we've got the most equal gender balance. I mean, it's not 50/50 yet. I was just trying to get the statistics. But I don't think I have enough time. Also since I am one of the organizers of the conference, I have to keep on time because all the other workshops will go past.
Can I -- can I add two quick answers to that? I think in two ways, one is in the MAG, as you pointed out, the steering group for the IGF, when selecting members of the MAG, the Secretariat has particularly looked at the gender issue. But also when evaluating workshops, workshop proposals have been evaluated in terms of development perspective but also from a gender perspective. So the workshop organizers have been encouraged to take that into consideration.
This is Bill Smith from PayPal. I believe it's our collective responsibility to make sure that it does continue should the UN decide not to. That's part of the multistakeholder participation model. We see that ability.
Thank you very much. The meeting is adjourned. Thank you.
(End of meeting.)