Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Multi-stakeholders’ agenda tops IGF’11 agenda

The global Internet Governance Forum (IGF) ended in the city of Nairobi, Kenya with multi-stakeholders’ approach top on the agenda, writes REMMY NWEKE.

The four-day Internet Governance Forum (IGF) for the worldwide audience of Internet community, in Nairobi, Kenya between September 27 and 30, 2011, with the theme: Internet as a catalyst for change: access, development, freedoms and innovation.

ICANN reiterates position on multi-stakeholderism:
Welcoming participants at the United Nations Office at Nairobi (UNON) venue of the IGF, the president and chief executive officer of the global internet coordinating agency, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), Mr. Rod Beckstrom, noted that in the past two years, ICANN has undergone tremendous positive change with its oversight moved from one government to the world through the Affirmation of Commitments, stressing that the agreement included significant reforms, overseen by ICANN’s global multi-stakeholder community, that are now well underway.
He also said that the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) assumed a much more prominent role in ICANN. Even as an extensive and constructive consultation between the GAC and ICANN’s international Board have been advanced and improved the new generic top-level domain programme, thus opening up the right of the dot.
 Internationalized domain names, Beckstrom pointed out, are now in the root in China, India and other countries around the world, and the security of the domain name system was enhanced with Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC), which is a suite of Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) specifications for securing the increasing vulnerabilities on the internet. By introducing a technology called DNS Security Extensions (DNSSEC), ICANN tend to secure the Internet’s infrastructure.
Taking Internet Security seriously:
He explained that DNSSEC, is a technology that was developed to, among other things, protect against such attacks by digitally ‘signing’ data so internet users could be assured it is valid. And in order to eliminate the vulnerability from the Internet, it must be deployed at each step in the lookup from root zone to final domain name, explaining that signing the root deploying DNSSEC on the root zone; is a necessary step in this overall process.
ICANN, he said, is an example of the multi-stakeholder model at its best via open, inclusive, balanced, effective and international, with board members and staff from all five continents and an actively engaged volunteer community around the world. Over 200 countries are involved in ICANN through the GAC, community, Board, staff and operations.
Beckstrom said that another element is the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions contract, which ICANN performs in conjunction with the US Department of Commerce (DoC), pointing out that many parties around the world have submitted comments on the IANA contract renewal, giving voice to their ideas on how to make it even more international, in keeping with the fundamental character of the Internet itself.
Pass-mark for stakeholders on IANA:
The IANA contract, he elucidated, is the next critical step in the evolution of the multi-stakeholder model, and the best vehicle for its expansion, adding that several parties globally now seek clear progress on the structure of the contract, which credibility of the multi-stakeholder model will be judged by how well this evolution occurs.
As said by him, efforts to improve ICANN and reform the IANA contracts were collaborative and global community process.
“We need to make continued progress to avoid putting the multi-stakeholder model at risk. Otherwise a small number of stakeholders who do not represent the global public interest could step into the breach. This could stifle the voices of those whose contributions have led to the unified and open Internet that the world enjoys today,’ he said.
Is this my report card?
Obviously giving his performance report in the past two years at ICANN, , Beckstrom said, have seen tremendous success in executing on every major initiative that faced the organisation, including some – like new generic top-level domains that had been stalled for years, declaring, “We should all be proud of our collective achievement.”
The multi-stakeholder community, he said, has also significantly improved ICANN, just as his team is now implementing reforms, including transparency and accountability emerging from the global community.
“And we have made significant advances in operations across the board, upgraded the professional staff and management team, and clarified our strategic priorities,” he said, underscoring the fact that the theme of IGF’11 is “The Internet: a catalyst for change,” Beckstrom noted that the multi-stakeholder model is the catalyst for the Internet itself, maintaining that by protecting that catalyst, “we protect the Internet.”

Speak up now or ….
ICANN president further urged participants that if they believe the multi-stakeholder model matters, and a highly functioning domain name system matters, as well as believe that ICANN matters, to speak up.
“If you think the future of the Internet should rest in the hands of those who benefit from it, please say something here, or share your views in writing. Stand up for the multi-stakeholder model in all its manifestations, including the vital institutions of ICANN and the IGF,” he said, reminding participants not to forget to take part in the forthcoming ICANN’s next multi-stakeholder international public meeting in Dakar, Senegal, October 23, this year.
Unblock West African IPs:
Though Nigerian government and private sector as well as civil society organisations were adequately represented, at the IGF’11, a very important issue, however, was raised by a Nigerian delegate during the inter-regional dialogue by making a strong case for those countries yet to unblock Internet Protocols (IP) emanating from West Africa to do so without further ado, because more cyber crimes have been committed in other parts of the world than is currently the rate in West Africa, with particular reference to Nigeria.
Noteworthy, however, was that locally, DigitalSENSE Africa (DSA) and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) had in the past three years collaborated with stakeholders to host the annual Nigeria Internet Governance for Development (IG4D) forum, which the delegates commended, while Minister, Communication Technology, Mrs.  Omobola Johnson, was represented at the occasion by the President, Digital Bridge Institute (DBI), Prof. Raymond Akwule.
This was in addition to the West Africa Internet Governance Forum (WAIGF) consortium led by Nnenna Nwakanma, equally hosted in by Nigeria in Lagos.
ITRealms Online recalls that Paragraph 72 of the Tunis hosted World Summit on the Information (WSIS) Agenda in 2005, reads: “We ask the UN Secretary-General, in an open and inclusive process, to convene, by the second quarter of 2006, a meeting of the new forum for multi-stakeholder policy dialogue— called the Internet Governance Forum (IGF).
The IGF mandate includes discussing public policy issues related to key elements of Internet governance in order to foster the sustainability, robustness, security, stability and development of the Internet; Facilitate discourse between bodies dealing with different cross-cutting international public policies regarding the Internet and discuss issues that do not fall within the scope of any existing body; and    Interface with appropriate inter-governmental organizations and other institutions on matters under their purview.
The Mandates:
Additionally, IGF was mandated to raise issues that could facilitate the exchange of information and best practices, and in this regard make full use of the expertise of the academic, scientific and technical communities; Advise all stakeholders in proposing ways and means to accelerate the availability and affordability of the Internet in the developing world; and Strengthen and enhance the engagement of stakeholders in existing and/or future Internet governance mechanisms, particularly those from developing countries.
Equally, participants at every IGF, which is on the sixth year, were charged to identify emerging issues, bring them to the attention of the relevant bodies and the general public, and, where appropriate, make recommendations; Contribute to capacity building for Internet governance in developing countries, drawing fully on local sources of knowledge and expertise; Promote and assess, on an ongoing basis, the embodiment of WSIS principles in Internet governance processes; and discuss, inter alia, issues relating to critical Internet resources; as well as help in finding solutions to the issues arising from the use and misuse of the Internet, of particular concern to everyday users.
Just as the mandate further stipulated that the forum publishes its proceedings, recollecting that IGF mandate has been extended for another five (5) year period. The extension of the mandate for the UN-IGF, is an indication to Kenya that the proposal to host the meeting has been accepted by the UN-IGF secretariat.
However, the Internet Governance for Development (IG4D) also has so sub-themes comprising “Emerging Issues, Managing critical Internet resources, Security, openness and privacy, Access and diversity, Taking stock and the way forward.”
Nevertheless, very important aspect was that Africa promised to host this event and it came to pass, stakeholders are waiting for the outcome of the forthcoming Dakar public meeting of ICANN to really know if Africa has made the relevant impact on the policy formation of the global internet coordinating body, the ICANN.

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