Civil society statement regarding the 2014 Internet Governance Summit in Brazil

by Anja Kovacs

Through the Best Bits platform, the Internet Democracy Project has worked with civil society organisations from around the world to draft and submit an early statement to the meeting’s organisers on what we hope the proposed 2014 Internet governance summit in Brazil will address and which processes we believe are required to do so adequately. The full list of signatories to the statement can be found here.

We, the undersigned organizations and individuals from around the world, recognize that we are in a critical moment for the Internet Governance régime, in which the increasing use of surveillance mechanisms poses a challenge for the whole community to tackle. Proactive action is required to restore trust and to ensure human rights are respected and upheld. We remain committed to the development of an open Internet and its use for advancing human rights, express our hope and expectation that the Internet governance summit in Brazil in 2014 incorporate a multistakeholder model of agenda setting, participation and decision making from its inception.

This requires:

  • The event should discuss what Internet governance architecture is required to support an inclusive, people-centric, development-oriented information society. We believe that this requires at the very minimum that such a structure is democratic, in that it should be inclusive of all countries and all stakeholders, and that it protects and promotes human rights.

  • The full participation of civil society stakeholders in planning and in the meeting should be guaranteed and resourced.

  • A strengthened Internet Governance Forum could play a role in the future Internet governance arrangements to be discussed at the event, and it should be linked with the CSTD WGEC process as appropriate.

  • The event should extend beyond good will speeches or presentations of good intentions and seek to produce actionable outputs. Modalities should be developed to allow all stakeholders, including remote participants, to participate on an equal footing from the preparatory process to final outputs.

We stress that opening doors for more stakeholders to attend meetings is not sufficient. Multistakeholderism has been used with a variety of meanings, sometimes only referring to a very limited kind of openness and consultation. If the goal is to achieve an open, inclusive and participatory debate, it is crucial that civil society is centrally involved at every step of the decision-making process.