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United Nations Establishes Working Group on Internet Governance

Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced today the members of the United Nations Working Group on Internet Governance, which is to prepare the ground for a decision on this contentious issue by the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society in 2005.

The establishment of the Working Group was requested by the first phase of the Summit, held in Geneva last December. At that time, countries agreed to continue the dialogue on the management of the Internet, at both the technical and policy levels. Many countries were happy with the current minimalist arrangements under the aegis of the U.S.-based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). But others felt there was a need for some intergovernmental framework, as with telecommunications, preferably under a United Nations umbrella.

The Working Group will be chaired by Nitin Desai, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General for the World Summit. It includes 40 members from governments, private sector and civil society, representing all regions (see below).

“The Working Group is not a negotiating forum,” said Mr. Desai. “Its purpose is to facilitate the negotiations that will take place in Tunis. We come into this process as facilitators, and will strive to establish a dialogue of good faith among all participants.”

The first meeting of the Working Group will take place in Geneva from 23 to 25 November. On 24 November, the meeting will be held in an open format, allowing all governments and other stakeholders to interact with the Working Group.

The two documents adopted by the Geneva Summit—the Declaration of Principles and the Plan of Action—ask the Working Group “to investigate and make proposals for action, as appropriate, on the governance of the Internet by 2005.” The Working Group is to present the result of its work in a report “for consideration and appropriate action” by the Tunis phase of the Summit (16-18 November 2005). Among its task are to:

- Develop a working definition of Internet governance;

- Identify the public policy issues that are relevant to Internet governance;

- Develop a common understanding of the respective roles and responsibilities of governments, international organizations and other forums as well as the private sector and civil society from both developing and developed countries.

“There is a general convergence of views on the need to treat Internet governance from a broad perspective and to build on what has been done elsewhere,” said Markus Kummer, the Swiss diplomat who heads the Geneva-based secretariat of the Working Group. “Issues that we expect to address include the management of Internet resources, network security, cyber-crime, spam and multilingualism.”

The two Summit documents call for an “open and inclusive” process and “a mechanism for the full and active participation of governments, the private sector and civil society from both developing and developed countries, involving relevant intergovernmental and international organizations and forums”. On the basis of these guidelines, the Working Group will carry out its work in an open, inclusive and transparent manner. It will hold regular consultations in an open format and will seek to make the best possible use of electronic working methods, including online consultations.

The report of the Working Group is expected to be submitted to the Secretary-General in July 2005.


- Nitin Desai, Chair
- Abdullah Al-Darrab, Deputy Governor of Technical Affairs, ICT Commission of Saudi Arabia;
- Carlos Alfonso, Technical Director, RIT, Rio de Janeiro;
- Peng Hwa Ang, Dean, School of Communication, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore;
- Karen Banks, Director, GreenNet, Association for Progressive Communications, London;
- Faryel Beji, President and CEO, Tunisian Internet Agency;
- Vittorio Bertola, ICANN at-large Advisory Committee, Turin;
- Jos? Alexandre Bicalho, Member, Brazilian Internet Steering Committee; Advisor, Board of Directors, National Telecommunications Agency;
- Kangsik Cheon, Chief Operating Officer, International Business Development, Netpia, Seoul;
- Trevor Clarke, Permanent Representative of Barbados to the United Nations in Geneva;
- Avri Doria, Technical Consultant, Providence, Rhode Island;
- William Drake, Chairman, Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, Geneva;
- Ra?l Echeberr?a, Executive Director, LACNIC, Montevideo;
- Dev Erriah, Chairman, ICT Authority of Mauritius;
- Baher Esmat, Telecom Planning Manager, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Egypt;
- Mark Esseboom, Director, Strategy and International Affairs, Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Netherlands;
- Juan Fernandez, Coordinator, Commission of Electronic Commerce, Cuba;
- Ayesha Hassan, Senior Policy Manager for E-Business, IT and Telecoms, International Chamber of Commerce, Paris;
- Qiheng Hu, Adviser, Science and Technology Commission, Ministry of Information Industry, China;
- Willy Jensen, Director, Norwegian Post and Telecom Authority;
- Wolfgang Kleinw?chter, Professor, International Communication Policy and Regulation, University of Aarhus;
- Jovan Kurbalija, Director, DiploFoundation, Geneva;
- Iosif Charles Legrand, Researcher, California Institute of Technology and CERN, Geneva;
- Donald MacLean, Director, MacLean Consulting, Ottawa;
- Allen Miller, Executive Director, World Information Technology and Services Alliance, Arlington, Virginia;
- Juan Carlos Moreno Solines, Executive Director, Gobierno Digital, Quito;
- Jacqueline A. Morris, Consultant, Port of Spain;
- Olivier Nana Nz?pa, Coordinator, Africa Civil Society, Yaound?;
- Alejandro Pisanty, Director, Computing Academic Services, Universidad Autonoma de Mexico;
- Khalilullah Qazi, Permanent Mission of Pakistan to the United Nations in Geneva;
- Rajashekar Ramaraj, Managing Director, Sify Limited, Chennai;
- Masaaki Sakamaki, Director, Computer Communications Division, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Japan;
- Joseph Sarr, President, NTIC Commission, Dakar Regional Council;
- Peimann Seadat, Permanent Mission of Iran to the United Nations in Geneva;
- Charles Sha’ban, IT Manager, Talal Abu- Ghazaleh International, Amman;
- Lyndall Shope-Mafole, Chair, Presidential National Commission on Information Society and Development, South Africa;
- Waudo Siganga, Chairman, Computer Society of Kenya;
- Mikhail Vladimirovich Yakushev, Director, Ministry of Information Technology and Communications, Russia;
- Peter Zangl, Deputy Director-General, Information Society Directorate General, European Commission, Brussels;
- Jean-Paul Zens, Director, Media and Telecom Department, Ministry of State, Luxembourg.

By CircleID Reporter

CircleID’s internal staff reporting on news tips and developing stories. Do you have information the professional Internet community should be aware of? Contact us.

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Mike Sorros  –  Nov 12, 2004 10:37 AM

Congratulations to the appointed members of the “United Nations Working Group on Internet Governance”!
I’m looking forward to the proposals of the working group in regard to the recently approved new ITU resolutions at WTSA (Country Code Top Level Domain Names, Internationalized Domain Names and finally ENUM).

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