CDT joined a number of civil society organizations from around the globe at the recent inter-sessional meeting of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) in Geneva. At the meeting, we commended the CSTD report, “Ten-year Review of Progress Made in the Implementation of the Outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society.” The report is an important input into the deliberations that will be held at the UN in late 2015 on the future of the WSIS and, among other things, the Internet Governance Forum (IGF). The Director of CDT’s Global Internet Policy and Human Rights Project, Matthew Shears, spoke at the meeting, noting that the report was “the most comprehensive review of the implementation of the WSIS to date” and that it offered a “balanced view of differing perspectives on the state of WSIS implementation.”
CDT and civil society partners encouraged the CSTD, Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the UN General Assembly to take the report into account in their overall review of the WSIS. In their written statement, CDT and partner civil society organizations also called for “all stakeholders to refocus on the development dimension of the WSIS” and to “ensure that the original goal of the WSIS – that of harnessing the potential of ICTs for development – becomes the central focus of the WSIS going forward.” The CSTD report incorporated inputs from many stakeholders and we were pleased to see some of CDT’s main concerns reflected in its findings and recommendations.
The ten-year review of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS+10 review) culminates in an intergovernmental meeting at the United Nations in New York in December 2015, where governments will decide if the WSIS process will continue beyond 2015, whether there is a future for the IGF and whether some governments will realize their aim of creating a space at the international level where they, and they alone, can discuss international Internet public policy issues. The final stages of the review will begin in June 2015 when the UN General Assembly President will appoint two facilitators (typically ambassadors to the UN) to determine the process that will lead to the December meeting. Hopefully, they will reach out to all stakeholders for input and the process modalities will be open, transparent, and multistakeholder, like much of the WSIS review process has been to date.
The WSIS+10 review is not just about the future of the IGF. As CDT’s engagement in the review process to date has shown, it is also about the future of the open Internet, offline and online rights and multistakeholder approaches to policy development. Much is at stake.