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Internet Governance 3 December 2011

Policy and decision-making and multistakeholderism – international, national and regional experiences. Is there a European vision?

EURODIG, Madrid, 30 April 2010

Plenary Session 4:

Extracts of Frédéric Donck’s speech, European Regional Bureau Director, Internet Society.

Let me tackle this important question by taking a specific angle- where I believe the Internet Society might bring a useful contribution.

The genius of the Internet lies in its decentralized architecture, which maximizes the power of individual users to choose (or create) the hardware, software, and services that best meet their needs. This is what allows the Internet to continue to be a platform for innovation and creativity.

Of equal significance, the structures of the Internet’s governance mechanisms in many ways mirror the technical architecture. Openness, transparency, inclusiveness, distributed responsibility and of course a multistakeholders approach are the intrinsic, inseparable hallmarks of Internet development.

We call this the Internet Model of development, and it is really successful.

So, at the Internet Society we talk a lot about the Internet model and it is worth spending a moment on it here, because it underpins the incredible success of the Internet’s evolution to date.

In practical terms, what does the Internet model mean? First, the Internet is a network of tens of thousands of networks, drawing overall resilience from distributed responsibility.

Second, it works because of the collaborative engagement of many organizations.

People and organizations from many backgrounds and with different expertise are involved: researchers, business people, civil society, academics, and government officials. This is key to the Internet’s success.

Third, the development of the Internet is based on open standards, which are openly developed and broadly and freely distributed. Participation is based on knowledge, need, and interest, rather than formal membership. There are no membership fees and this in itself is important. The Internet community has always worked to reduce barriers and encourage broad participation.

And finally, the Internet model is also based on widely supported key principles, such as the “end-to-end principle,” which encourages the creation of global deployment of innovative, successful, and often surprising applications. And those who create applications don’t need permission to deploy them on the Internet. And more importantly, users themselves choose which applications suit their needs.

In short, the Internet model is a robust, flexible, adaptive system, whose value is greater than the sum of its parts.

So, let me come back to the initial question.

While addressing public policy and decision-making processes, we are convinced that the internet model is the appropriate model for internet governance.

The Internet Society values the opportunity created by those Forums-at international, national and regional levels- which favor a multistakeholders approach.

And we maintain that these outcomes would not have been possible in any of the

traditional intergovernmental models we are aware of.

For example, we recognize that the international IGF or this European Platform, EURODIG, are unique forums where ideas can be explored and tested by stakeholders, on an equal footing, unburdened by the constraints of intergovernmental procedures and negotiations.

From their sides, Governments and intergovernmental organizations should also value the multistakehoders approach as an incredible opportunity – for example, nothing in the present forum either binds governments to implementation in their sovereign territory, nor prevents them from taking the actions they believe are in the interests of their citizens. In fact, participating in those forums enriches their, and their citizens’ decisions.

Let me conclude by saying that, in the end, the value of forums like EURODIG is established by its participants –those who come away from this meeting – or who participated remotely- and say “yes, I can use that back home”.

That is what makes such a Forum worthwhile: the ability of stakeholders to- freelyensure

coherence between local & international levels.

They can indeed use the pattern of this multistakeholders approach and implement it

at local level, while localizing the governance related issues, identifying regional and local challenges and exploring local solutions.

Thank you for your attention.

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