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IGF Worldwide Background

The problem of Internet governance was at Tunis Agenda for the Information Society at World Summit on the Information Society held in Geneva in 2003 and in Tunis in 2005, resulting in Information Society program approved in Tunis that year. The program oversees all key issues of Internet governance, including the definition of Internet governance itself, and contains a decision to start a series of Internet Governance Forums worldwide. The first IGF meeting held in Athens in 2006 provided a new ground for discussing the issues of Internet governance globally. IGF is a forum for multi-stakeholder policy dialogue, its establishment approved by the UN Secretary-General. In 2010 the mandate of the Internet Governance Forum was extended for a further five years, until 2015.

Paragraph 72 of the Tunis Agenda:

...72. 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 mandate of the Forum is to:

  • Discuss 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;
  • Interface with appropriate inter-governmental organizations and other institutions on matters under their purview;
  • 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;
  • Strengthen and enhance the engagement of stakeholders in existing and/or future Internet governance mechanisms, particularly those from developing countries;
  • 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;
  • Discuss, inter alia, issues relating to critical Internet resources;
  • Help to find solutions to the issues arising from the use and misuse of the Internet, of particular concern to everyday users;
  • Publish its proceedings

Internet governance is based on a multi-stakeholder dialogue, which ideally includes government, society, businesses, academic circle and techology professionals. This is exactly what IGF has to offer to its participants. All Forum contributors are equal, and the view differences are not to be seen as obstructions but rather as a way to pinpoint the critical points of the process, leading to the mutual success. A total of twelve worldwide IGF meetings have been held so far: in Athens, 2006; in Rio de Janeiro, 2007; in Hyderabad, 2008, in Sharm El Sheikh, 2009; in Vilnius, 2010; in Nairobi, 2011; in 2012 in Baku; in 2013 in Bali; in 2014 in Istanbul; in 2015 in João Pessoa; in 2016 in Guadalajara; in 2017 in Geneva; in Paris in 2018 and in Berlin in 2019. In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the forum was held online. In 2021, the forum was held in a hybrid format: in Katowice (Poland) and online. The online format was preserved in 2022, when the forum was held in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia.

Today, IGF worldwide has become a new way of addressing the problems of Internet governance as a multi- stakeholder institution created by an UN General Secretary resolution. The regional and national IGF forums held in different countries deal with technical, administrative and legal issues of governing the Internet in various countries and regions.