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Internet Governance 18 November 2009

An IGF within an IGF? The Commonwealth Internet Governance Forum

An IGF within the IGF? That’s what happend on Monday with the hosting of the Commonwealth Internet Governance Forum.

In two separate sessions, at 9:00 – 10.30 a.m. and at 6:00 – 7:00 p.m.  and in two separate rooms, for the first time, the Commonwealth attempted to bring the 53 nations of the Commonwealth together to discuss IG issues in as inclusive a manner as possible.

Sepakers from states within the East Africa, West Africa, Asia/Pacific and Caribbean regions and the UK all spoke to the need to work towards building a relevant and workable Commonwealth IGF Agenda recognizing the quite disparate but, at the same time, very similar needs of the soverign states within the Commonwealth.

Noting that several Commonwealth groupings (East Africa, West Africa and the Caribbean) also had their preparatory IGFs, Commonwealth IGF Chairman, Joseph Tabone atttempted to the move the speakers from the panel and the floor away from a “what if” and a “coulda, woulda, shoulda” platform towards one which is focused on the specific areas where the Commonwealth Secretariat and/or its member nations could provide directed assistance.

One speaker from Trinidad & Tobago even provided the very insightful view that what might be needed was not assistance on the business-as-usual “best practices”, per se, but on what was coined “worst practices” – in that what the states of the Commonwealth can possibly share were their very real experiences in attempts to treat with IG areas such as e-legislation, cybercrime strategies etc. What went wrong, what were the challenges, what were the good areas, and what they have learned in the painful process of moving forward, in spite of.  In other words, how not to do things, or put another way, how to avoid the mistakes that some states would have made so that states who were now attempting to implement or re-implement programmes, projects and other initiatives relating to IG would be well-informed and be able utilize ”leapfrog methodologies”.

As indicated on their comprehensive website,, the Commonwealth Internet Governance Forum (CIGF) seeks to encourage greater participation from Commonwealth member states on policy issues and discussions related to Internet Governance, with a view to coming up with informed solutions or the pooling of good practice to address their needs more directly.

You can read more on the outcome of Commonwealth IGF and ongoing developments at

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Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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