Brussels, 16 November 2005
A worldwide political agreement providing for further internationalisation of Internet governance, and enhanced intergovernmental cooperation to this end, was brokered at the World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis last night. The compromise text agreed was based largely on EU proposals presented in the discussions since June. As a first important element of the agreement, a new international Internet Governance Forum (IGF) will be created to deliberate among governments, the private sector and civil society at large in a multi-stakeholder policy dialogue related to Internet Governance. A first meeting of this Forum will be convened by the Secretary-General of the United Nations by the second quarter of 2006 and take place in Greece. The texts agreed in Tunis also include language that will allow for enhanced cooperation among governments, on an equal footing, on public policy issues. Such cooperation should include the development of globally applicable principles on public policy issues associated with the coordination and management of critical Internet resources. This cooperation will make use of relevant international organisations. There was also a consensus in Tunis yesterday that countries should not be involved in decisions regarding another country’s Top Level Domain, thus meeting requests made, in particular, by the EU in the negotiations.
“I welcome the texts now agreed in Tunis. They pave the way for a progressive internationalisation of Internet governance”, commented Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media, who is leading the Commission delegation in Tunis. “This agreement was possible because of the strong belief of all democratic nations that enhanced international cooperation is the best way to make progress towards guaranteeing the freedom of the Internet around the globe and also to enhance transparency and accountability in decisions affecting the architecture of the Web. The fact that the EU spoke with one voice in Tunis, and had stood by its case for more cooperation on Internet governance in the run-up to the summit, certainly strongly influenced this positive agreement”.
The text finalised last night reflects a consensus of all participants of the Tunis summit. It will now be officially adopted by the Heads of State or Government, or their representatives, in the course of the World Summit on Information Society that officially starts today and will last until Friday. For the Commission, the days to come will focus on gaining the support of other nations for the EU’s policy of investing in Information and Communication Technology, as a means to overcome the “digital divide”. In addition, the Commission will reiterate its position on the need to safeguard human rights, and in particular freedom of speech, in order to build a truly global Information Society.