APNIC is a signatory to the Montevideo Statement, a declaration from members of the Internet technical community about the current state of Internet technical coordination, cooperation and governance. The statement conveys in particular an agreement on "the need for ongoing effort to address Internet Governance challenges", and a commitment to "catalyze community-wide efforts towards the evolution of global multi-stakeholder Internet cooperation".
Last week during ICANN 48 in Buenos Aires, there were numerous discussions about the Montevideo Statement: about the Internet cooperation clause and its relation with the Internet Governance Forum; about the global meeting which will take place in Brazil in April 2014, and yet another new issue, the "1net” initiative.
It is of course fundamental that the Internet should continue to be driven from the bottom up, by all sectors of our multistakeholder community. But after these recent initiatives, and the high level of interest shown by the community, it seems useful to offer some personal perspectives, to explain how I at least (as head of APNIC), understand both their individual intent, and how they are related to one another.
This statement was released in October 2013 after a meeting convened by the Internet Society to discuss current Internet technical issues. Participants included chairs and executives of ISOC, ICANN, IAB, IETF, W3C and the 5 RIRs (of which APNIC is one), a group which has been referred to loosely as "I*" (though this is not a name that any of us particularly likes).
This latest I* meeting was unusual in that for the first time, the participants agreed on the need for a public statement about a number of specific issues. Several factors prompted this action, among them the various recent revelations of Internet surveillance, and the more recent call in a speech to the UN by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff calling for increased multilateral (as opposed to Multistakeholder), oversight of Internet matters.
The Brazil Meeting
After the Montevideo meeting, it was known that Fadi Chehadé, President and CEO of ICANN, was going on to Brasilia to meet with the Communications Minister. It was during those meetings that the idea then emerged for a new international Internet conference to be held in Brazil in 2014, an event now known as the "Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance".
The Brazil meeting was big news: suddenly, both the Montevideo Statement and the proposed meeting were being discussed widely, but they were also conflated and perceived as part of a single plan, whereas in fact they were conceived quite independently
The Internet Governance Forum in Bali followed soon after these events and it became a focal point for further discussions. Efforts were made by members of the I* group to explain the Montevideo Statement, and its relationship with the still-unformed Brazil meeting. It seemed an opportunity to build support for a broad coalition or movement, just as we had resolved in Montevideo: "to catalyze community-wide efforts towards the evolution of global multistakeholder Internet cooperation".
During this time, ICANN proposed the name of "1net" as a banner of sorts, under which this movement could be formed.
The discussions in Bali were not conclusive. For a variety of reasons, they left many in the community confused about the many issues which had been discussed, unsure of their implications and of the intent behind them. However, there was consensus at least to continue discussions, to allow unanswered questions to be addressed and develop a vision and scope for the initiative, however it was to emerge. As a practical contribution, the NRO established a mailing list called i-coordination, where discussions could continue in the free and open fashion which was expected.
During the opening of ICANN 48, Fadi announced that www.1net.org had been established as a platform for the "coalition/movement" which had been discussed during IGF. In response to questions and concerns, he also announced a special 7am session, at which the topic could be openly discussed.
I spoke during that session, and encouraged those with questions to also propose the answers that they hoped to hear; to contribute constructively to the creation of 1net. For many in the ICANN audience, the key issues were already being addressed within that forum; leading them to question the need for another. The point is, however, that ICANN is only a small subset of a much wider Internet community, for whom there are many outstanding issues that are well outside the scope of ICANN.
During the week in Buenos Aires, various other initiatives and developments were announced, including latest news on the CEO's "strategy panels”, and on the new "Panel on the Future of Global Internet Cooperation”, independent from ICANN, which will release a report in early 2014, presumably in time for the Brazil meeting.
What does it all mean for our Community?
I firmly believe that these various recent events do represent significant developments and opportunities in the short history of Internet Governance. My hope is that they also represent, or will lead to, an ongoing convergence of opinion on a number of important points:
So what next for 1net?
How 1net evolves from here should be determined entirely by the wider Internet community. I believe it is a timely initiative, which does embody the I*'s commitment to "community-wide efforts towards the evolution of global multi-stakeholder Internet cooperation". I believe it can be consistent with the IGF, and I hope it can also provide a channel for multi-stakeholder community into the Brazil meeting, in whatever form that emerges.
If all of these things can be achieved, and if the Montevideo Statement has served in any way as a catalyst to that end, then I believe it was a very worthwhile exercise.
For more information on 1net and how to participate, please visit www.1net.org.
By Paul Wilson, Director General of APNIC
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