The first phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) held in Geneva in December 2003 agreed to pursue the dialogue on Internet Governance with a view to preparing the ground for a decision at the second phase of the WSIS in Tunis in November 2005. To this end it requested the United Nations Secretary-General to establish a Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG).
The two documents adopted in Geneva set the parameters for the WGIG and contain its Terms of Reference. The main activity of the WGIG will be “to investigate and make proposals for action, as appropriate, on the governance of Internet by 2005.” The WGIG is asked to present the result of its work in a report “for consideration and appropriate action for the second phase of the WSIS in Tunis 2005.” It is asked inter alia to deal with the following issues:
- Develop a working definition of Internet Governance;
- Identify the public policy issues that are relevant to Internet Governance;
- Develop a common understanding of the respective roles and responsibilities of governments, existing international organizations and other forums as well as the private sector and civil society from both developing and developed countries.
The two Geneva documents, the Declaration of Principles and the Plan of Action, attach much importance to the process. It should be “open and inclusive” and ensure “a mechanism for the full and active participation of governments, the private sector and civil society from both developing and developed countries, involving relevant intergovernmental and international organizations and forums”.
The Consultations aim to develop a common understanding of structure and functioning of the WGIG. Discussions are therefore expected to focus on the scope and working methods of the WGIG, as well as the general profile, qualities and characteristics of its members.