Civil Society Statement
  on the Decision to Exclude Non-governmental stakeholders from Drafting Groups
 
 
  28 September 2005.
This statement was read by Avri Doria (Internet Governance Caucus), in Subcommittee B of PrepCom3 at 12:00. It was adopted as a joint position of the Civil Society Content and Themes Group in the evening session at 18:00.

0. We want to thank you for your personal efforts to ensure transparency and inclusion, since the publication of the WGIG report. However, civil society is extremely disappointed that we are not be able to participate fully in the drafting groups and the sub committees are rolling forward without any decision on rules and procedures and hence preventing civil society from making any meaningful interventions.

Civil Society believes all non-governmental partners should be able to make statements on the same basis as agreed for the subcommittees, to remain in the room as observers for the entire and to further contribute at the discretion of the chair of the drafting group. Such procedures would put into practice the commitment to the "full participation of all stakeholders" (e.g. Para 39.)

1. A decision to exclude non-governmental stakeholders from meaningful participation in the drafting groups is not acceptable as a matter of principle. The WSIS and the WGIG have affirmed that governance of the Internet must be based on real partnerships with the participation of all stakeholders in an open, inclusive and transparent manner. These principles are central to the Geneva documents.

 A decision to exclude non-governmental stakeholders from meaningful participation in the working groups would break these fundamental conditions and will undermine the legitimacy of all outcomes of the WSIS. The sincerity of commitments made by some governments to these principles is now open to question.

2. The decision to exclude non-governmental stakeholders from the drafting groups is not about rules and procedure - it is a matter of political courage and principle. You have a choice to be inclusive or exclusive, to work in partnership, transparency and openness. There is a great opportunity here to put move forward with all the progress we have made within the UN and WSIS, and this move will be a move backwards. We need to clearly make a difference for the future of the Internet community now and the generations to come.

3. The Internet is the creation of the multi-stakeholder cooperation of academia, civil society, governments, private sector and technologists. There has never been a more successful multi-stakeholder partnership than the one that has created and nurtured the Internet. Governments in Geneva are now jeapordising this partnership. The Tunis declaration will be meaningless if it is not seen as legitimate to all those involved in the creation and evolution of the  Internet, its applications, services and content.

4. The WGIG process demonstrated that civil society organizations contribute positively. Our exclusion will deprive the prepcom of valuable knowledge, expertise and perspectives. Civil society has been, and will continue to be, the main force for promoting capacity building and development of the Internet in developing countries. Civil society understands what is needed in order to continue that work, and exclusion from the drafting groups will only make it more difficult for us to continue that work effectively.

5. The WSIS Plan of Action cannot be implemented by governments alone: the active engagement of civil society actors is needed in the follow-up stage; our exclusion today will discourage many from engaging after Tunis and will therefore reduce the chances of effectively implementing the ambitious objectives of Geneva.

6. We strongly protest your decision to exclude non-governmental observers from the drafting groups. Civil Society should be able to make statements on the same basis as we do in subcommittee, to remain in the room as observers for the entire session and to further contribute at the discretion of the chair.  Again, the Tunis declaration will be meaningless if it is not seen as legitimate to all those involved in the creation and evolution of the  Internet, its applications, services and content.

 


 
 
 
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