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Growing the Internet 16 December 2015

Internet Society CEO Speech at the UN General Assembly WSIS+10 Review

By Kathryn BrownFormer President / CEO

Today, December 16, 2015, Internet Society President and CEO Kathy Brown delievered the following remarks before the UN General Assembly as part of the 10-year Review of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS+10)


Mr. Chairman, Honorable Ministers, Excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the Internet Society, an organization of 80,000 members, 145 organizations and 112 volunteer Chapters in 92 countries, congratulations on the successful conclusion of the WSIS +10 review.

The Internet Society evolved from a belief of our founder Vint Cerf that ‘a society would emerge from the idea that is the Internet’. Today we see that not only has an Information Society emerged, but also that the Internet has woven itself into the very fabric of our whole society and is now a critical part of how we connect, communicate, create and collaborate.

We are encouraged by the positive outcome of the WSIS 10 review resulting from years of cooperation and shared dialogue. The final outcome document is an endorsement of the agreement we all made 10 years ago to allow the Internet to grow and flourish through bottom-up, distributed collaborative processes. We enthusiastically support the unequivocal re-commitment to the multistakeholder model first adopted in Tunis; the renewal of the IGF mandate and the central focus on creating a digital enabling environment for achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Moreover, the Internet Society has continually called for a sharper focus on development and Human Rights in order to build a people-centered Information Society. WSIS has delivered by putting the building blocks in place to continue to champion these two crucial imperatives.

And importantly, the co-facilitators have shined a light on the value of the collaborative, multistakeholder model by striving to be as open, transparent and inclusive as the UN process would allow. By their actions they acknowledged that there is only one way to build the Internet future – and that is by working together.

So, I want to say thank you to those who have made this agreement possible. Thank you to the Secretary-General; to the president of the General Assembly; and to our two excellent facilitators. But most of all thank you to all those stakeholders who contributed with passion, ideas and advocacy to this positive outcome.

Of course, we all know that the outcome document reflects a series of compromises – and we have a concern; and it is not an insignificant one.

In our view, the outcome statement falls short in failing to fully recognize the transnational nature of the Internet as a borderless “network of networks” comprised of millions of individual networks that connect around the globe. It seeks to apply national solutions to global problems, particularly those related to safety and security. This shortfall is compounded by an unfortunate misbelief by some that cooperation ONLY among governments is sufficient to solve issues that require the expertise and commitment of all of us.

Indeed, our able and perceptive co-facilitator from the UAE asked the opening panel yesterday how we could improve UN processes that have historically been multilateral, to better address the governance issues of the Internet. Those issues are multistakeholder, transnational and distributed by nature.

We agree that further progress must be made to fully embrace a changing digital world that knows no borders and no single “decider”.

As more people – and things – come online, many challenges, known and unknown, lie ahead. Government-centric processes are only one of the many ways that solutions can be crafted AND implemented. Solving 21st Century problems will require the collaboration of all stakeholders through 21st century mechanisms.

We at the Internet Society stand ready to join with all of you – and with all stakeholders around the world – to reach a common vision of an open, global, trusted Internet for everyone, everywhere. Again, thank you for your dedication to a better world.


More information about the WSIS+10 event can be found at

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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