The Declaration of Principles adopted at the World Summit on the Information Society in Geneva has recognized the Internet as a global facility available to the public. Its governance should constitute a core issue of the Information Society agenda.
The Summit requested the UN Secretary-General to set up a Working Group on Internet governance (WGIG), in an open and inclusive process. The WGIG defined Internet Governance as the development and application by governments, the private sector and civil society, in their respective roles, of shared principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures, and programmes that shape the evolution and use of the Internet.
The Internet is a major opportunity to improve free flow of information and ideas throughout the world. Internet governance mechanisms should be based on the principle of “openness”, encompassing interoperability, freedom of expression in Knowledge Societies and measures to resist any attempt to censor content. Its international management should:
- Be multilateral, transparent and democratic;
- Fully involve governments, the private sector, civil society and international organizations;
- Ensure an equitable distribution of resources;
- Facilitate access for all;
- Ensure a stable and secure functioning of the Internet, taking into account multilingualism;
- Be carried out in a coordinated manner.
In July 2006 UN Secretary-General endorsed the WGIG recommendation to create a new forum for multi-stakeholder policy dialogue on Internet governance issues: The Internet Governance Forum (IGF).The first IGF was held in Athens, Greece from 30 October to 2 November 2006; the second IGF was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in October 2007. The Last IGF was held in Hyderabad, India, from 3-6 December 2008.
For UNESCO, Internet Governance is a core concern. The Organization advocates an open, transparent and inclusive approach to Internet Governance based on the principle of openness encompassings the free flow of information, freedom of expression and technical interoperability.
The main areas of relevance to UNESCO are the concern for ethical dimensions, the realization of multilingualism in Cyberspace and capacity-building.
On May 6 2008 UNESCO organized an Information meeting with the permanent delegations, "Using your Script to Access the Internet", presenting the current challenges for ensuring universal access to information through linguistic diversity, and informing on ways to participate in the most relevant fora leading the global debate on Internet Governance. For complete information refer to the documents of the meeting.