The fate of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) future was the subject of a big debate when the NetMundial initiative was proposed and for a while it looked as if the IGF was going to fold, however in Early 2015, the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling on the UN General Assembly to renew the mandate of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), while strengthening its resources and the multi-stakeholder model of internet governance.
This was evident after UN member states failed to renew the mandate of the forum, which was established as a discussion forum in 2006 as an outcome of the UN-led 2003 and 2005 World Summit of the Information Society (WSIS).
The IGF having functioned for several years has been seen as a club for a few who control all the resources. As Kieren McCarthy of The Register in his latest article writes,
the IGF’s organizing group the Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG) meets in Geneva to decide how the annual conference will be structured and what topics it will cover, and to set the rules for how sessions and the conference itself will be run.
And we are pleased to announce for another year, the IGF remains a circus, an unaccountable and pointlessly bureaucratic organization that goes to great lengths to pretend it is open to everyone’s input and even greater lengths to make sure it isn’t.
At the two-day meeting, the IGF’s three core issues again took pride of place at the event:
- Fantasy of democratic representation
- Opaque decision-making and finances
- Bureaucratic blocking of any efforts at reform
The IGF’s leadership is represented as a democracy but it appears the said democracy is a fantasy given the process of the unexpected last-minute coronation of former ISOC president Lynn St Amour as chair of the IGF.
There is opaqueness in how the finances are also managed,
Ever since its creation in 2006, there have been questions surrounding the forum’s financing, particularly when that financing was repeatedly used to undermine the annual conference.
Reforms to are bureaucratically blocked and any efforts to introduce reforms and improvements were first started in 2008 have always been wished away.
One tweet summarizes the article TheRegister: It’s time for our annual checkup on the circus that is the Internet Governance Forum perfectly.
#IGF2017 Time spent discussing the conference title: 3+ hours; time spent discussing IGF improvements: <10 minutes
— Lea Kaspar (@leakaspar) March 3, 2017