[governance] Notes from Under-Secretary-General Sha's briefing on IGF at UN New York March 30 2010

Thomas Lowenhaupt toml at communisphere.com
Wed Mar 31 02:22:52 EDT 2010

Internet Governance - IGF Briefing by Under-Secretary-General Sha at UN 
March 30, 2010

The briefing began at 3:15 PM at the new temporary building at UN 
Headquarters in New York City. Under-Secretary- General for Economic and 
Social Affairs Mr. Sha Zukang presided.

Mr. Sha began with a statement about his early interest in Internet 
Governance, stating that he was the first to bring up the subject of 
Internet Governance at the U.N. Apparently responding to some suspicion 
arising from his former position as China's Ambassador to the U.N., and the 
controversies about China's oversight of that nation's Internet resources, 
he stated that he spoke as a U.N. employee. He stated that China had no real 
interest in this matter and was not even present in the hall. "They don't 

He then read a six page statement, interspersed with personal observations. 
I'll endeavor to transcribe from the written statement beginning after the 
history on page 3, under the heading "How The Review Process Will Unfold." 
After reading the statement Mr. Sha took  statements  from Yemen, EU, Egypt, 
Sri Lanka, Canada, U.S., U.K., France, Norway, ICC and some concluding 
statements by Mr., Sha.

>From page 3 of the written statement [with my comments in brackets] -
How The Review Process Will Unfold

When the IGF was created, it was given a lifespan of five years, after which 
time Member States would review the desirability of its continuation. The 
Secretary-General was asked to assist in this process by examining its 
merits taking into account the views of its many participants. More 
precisely, Member States, in paragraph 76 of the Tunis Agenda "ask the UN 
Secretary General to examiner the desirability of the continuation of the 
Forum, in formal consultation with Forum participants, within five years of 
its creation, and to make recommendations to the UN Membership in this 
regard." Those five years have now come to an end.

The formal consultations were initiated by an online process.

A total of 61 written submissions were received following these calls for 
public comment, of which 40 responded to the online questionnaire. 
Contributions were received from Governments. Comments were also received 
from a number of individuals.

In November 2009, I convened a formal consultation with IGF participants 
during the fourth meeting of the Forum in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. During the 
consultation 47 speakers.

Eight statements of participants who were not given a speaking time slot due 
to time constraints were posted online. In addition, two statement were 
submitted after the consultations.

The total number of contributions over the six month consultation period 
from July to December 2009 was thus 118.
Paragraph 35 of the Tunis Agenda enumerates four groups of stakeholders and 
describes, in broad terms, the role that each might play in Internet 
governance. They are:

1.       Governments;
2.       The private sector;
3.       Civic society;
4.       Intergovernmental and other international organizations.

Member States also recognized "the valuable contributions by the academic 
and technical communities within those stakeholder groups."

Here, Member States have been very clear. The WSIS Declaration of Principles 
adopted during the first phase of the Summit express a commitment to 
building an inclusive, people-centered and development-oriented Information 
Society for all. The Tunis Agenda, adopted during the second phase, 
reinforced this understanding by calling for the establishment of a platform 
for multistakeholder dialogue, the IGF, where voices could be heard.

What stakeholders have said

[This section enumerated six areas where participants have made 

Submission of the Recommendations of the Secretary-General

It is in the spirit of inclusiveness that the recommendations of the 
Secretary-General must be prepared , taking into account the opinions 
expressed by all stakeholder groups in the consultations.

Based on Paragraph 76 of the Tunis Agenda, the note will be transmitted to 
the 65th session of the General Assembly for consideration under item 17 of 
the provisional agenda on information and communication technology for 

The General Assembly will decide on the issue of the consultation of the 

Recently, some Member States have expressed the desire that the note of the 
Secretary-General on continuation of the IGF be submitted to the CSTD for 

As you know, the agenda and the programme of the work of the CSTD were 
decided by ECOSOC in its decision 2009/219. The decision did not request 
that the Commission review the continuation of the IGF. Nor was there any 
subsequent request for the submission of the recommendations of the 
Secretary-General to the CSTD.

In the provisional annotated agenda and organization of work issued early 
this month under the symbol E/CN.16/2010/1, the matter of the continuation 
of the IGF was nowhere mentioned in the annotated agenda of the CSTD.

While CSTD is scheduled to consider WSIS follow up, it will address the 
broad issue of the assessment of the five-year progress made in the 
implementation of WSIS.

Without a specific request from the CSTD, as requested in the decision of 
ECOSOC, DESA is proceeding with the preparation of the recommendations of 
the /Secretary-General, with the documentation timeline for the General 
Assembly. [Here he emphasized the need and difficulty of translating into 
the UN's 6 languages.]

The matter whether the CSTD will consider the recommendations of the 
Secretary-General on the continuation of the IGF will therefore be a 
decision by Member States.

Regarding the note of the Secretary-General containing the recommendations 
of the continuation of the IGF, UNDESA could circulate the note of the 
Secretary-General during the 13th session of the CSTD in Geneva from 17-21 
May. [Here Mr. Sha emphasized the use of the word "could."]

However, since the Secretariat is preparing the note according to the 
documentation timeline of the General Assembly, the note will be only in 
unedited form in English only. The official document on six languages will 
not be available before then. As you know, the advance text itself must go 
through editing, translation and production processes.
So the issue before us is two-fold - a decision by member states as to 
whether the recommendations of the Secretary-General should be submitted 
first to CSTD; whether Member States could proceed with consideration of the 
recommendations in the advance unedited form and not in six official 

At any rate I would be pleased to send a representative to CSTD to share 
whatever information we can on the substance of the SGs recommendations, if 

Let me conclude by repeating that this briefing serves to inform you about 
the process for preparation of the SGs recommendation.

Mr. Sha then took statements from several entities.

Yemen - presented a "Statement on Behalf of the Group of 77 and China." (See 
http://www.g77.org/doc/)   After a preamble it made 6 points, which I 
1.       The issue is important and must be addressed at the General 
Assembly regardless of other fora that might also discuss it.
2.       G77 and China believe IGF should be reviewed every 2-3 years.
3.       IGF should focus, among other areas, "on how to resolve significant 
public policy issues such as the unilateral control of the critical Internet 
4.       The IGF should move beyond advice and provide advice to 
intergovernmental bodies.
5.       LDC's should be more involved than in the past.
6.       "the Tunis Agenda should be strictly followed, when reforming the 
IGF, so as not to duplicate the work and mandates of other existing 
arrangements, mechanisms, institutions or organizations." And the IGF should 
continue to work under the auspices of the UN.

EU- Offered strong support for another five years in its current form. The 
CSTD should be directly involved in the process. They suggested that the 
preliminary note's "could" be circulated status be changed to "will."

Egypt - They subscribe to Group of 77 plus China. Supports continuation of 
IGF but its working methods need to be revised. Needs more financial support 
for LDCs. Paragraph 71 has not been followed.

Sri Lanka - Support continuation of IGF.

Canada - Supports IGF continuation.

U.S. - Statement by Michael Snowden, Advisor, Economic and Social Affairs. 
Appreciate effort put forward by Mr. Sha. Echo previous statement. IGF has 
been valuable. They second the hope that an early version of the SG's notes 
can be circulated prior to CSTD.

U.K. - 60252 asked ECOSOC to work with CSTD. Would like copy circulated 
prior to CSTD.

Mr. Sha Comment - As long as the General Assembly membership agrees that an 
English-only version may circulate, he will enable it. But there must be a 
unanimous call for this.

France - Agreed with G 77 and China and EU. Wants it for the CSTD meeting 
but language is an issue. [Here Mr. Sha praised France.]

Norway - Asked about paragraph 71. Staff had to check this and at the 
conclusion of the comments Mr. Sha stated that this process was to be 
undertaken by Council of Europe, ICANN, IETF, OECD, WIPO, W3C. He referred 
to a SG progress report in 2008.

Mr. Sha noted that he follows the General Assembly:
193 members of General Assembly
54 members of ECOSOC
43 members of CSTD.

ICC (International Chamber of Commerce - Supports continuation of IGF.

Mr. Sha - CSTD can be helpful but it can't supplant the work of the General 
Assembly. To release the draft note he needs a request from the CSTD, from 
the bureau [not sure which that is] or an ad hoc group. He also needs the 
non-English to say it is OK, or minimally not object. One objection would 
stop him from releasing the draft SG note.

End of notes and comments by Tom Lowenhaupt, March 31, 2010. 

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