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China Isn't Happy With the IGF

Rebecca MacKinnon

On the final day of a four-day meeting, most government representatives expressed support for renewing the Internet Governance Forum's five-year mandate which ends next year. China did not. Chen Yin, the head of the Chinese delegation to the Internet Governance Forum, said yesterday that the IGF's mandate should not be continued without reforms. Below is the full text of his statement, taken from the official transcript here [PDF]. Video (with bad-quality audio in Chinese) can be found on YouTube here. I've added a few links so that the acronyms will make more sense to people who aren't professional Internet governance wonks:

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The Chinese delegation has noted that as mandated by WSIS, IGF has conducted productive and effective activities in promoting dialogue and exchange among the multi-stakeholders, and will conclude its mandate within its five-year life span. We would like to congratulate and appreciate the excellent work done by IGF Secretariat, MAG, and all the hosting countries including Greece, Brazil, India and Egypt. Meanwhile, we would like to point out some of the IGF shortcomings, as described following.
First of all, the current IGF cannot solve in substance the issue of unilateral control of the critical internet resources.

Secondly, the developing countries are lack of resources for participating in IGF meetings, and the priority of development agenda has been downplayed, which made IGF lacking of broad representation.
Thirdly, the issues discussed in IGF have duplicated a lot with the work being explored and covered by other UN agencies and international organizations.

Therefore, Chinese delegation think, without reform to the IGF as it is, it is not necessary to give the IGF a five-year extension. In the meantime, we noted that relevant parties, developing countries in particular, hope that internet governance issues could be discussed at the U.N. level. We support the views of Saudi Arabia and other developing countries in their proposal to set up the Enhanced Cooperation mechanism within the U.N. framework.

In our view, if the mechanism of Enhanced Cooperation needs the extension of IGF for the purpose of exchanging views among multi-stakeholders, IGF should carry out reforms in the following ways.
First, the future IGF should, in accordance with the provision of Tunis Agenda, focus on how to solve the issue of unilateral control of the critical Internet resources.
Secondly, the representation and voices of the developing countries should be increased in the IGF, and the development issue should be placed as the first priority.
Thirdly, we should seriously consider the possibility of incorporating IGF financing into the regular U.N. budget, and provide assistance to developing countries for their participation in the IGF meetings.
Fourthly, we should follow rigidly the Tunis Agenda so that the reformed IGF should not duplicate the work and mandate of the other organizations.

Fifthly, a Bureau should be set up with a balanced membership of various parties and geographical regions, and its term of reference and rules of procedures should be formulated by the United Nation.
Sixthly, on tenure of the future IGF, we deem it necessary to review the extension of the IGF every two or three years.

In the view of the Chinese delegation, the setting up of a mechanism for Enhanced Cooperation with a reformed IGF will effectively promote the global Internet governance process and facilitate the achievement of Millennium Development Goals.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

By Rebecca MacKinnon, Journalist and activist; Co-founder, Global Voices Online
Related topics: Internet Governance
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