Internet Governance

Internet Governance

Internet Governance (IG) has gained prominence on the world stage through the 2003 (Geneva) and 2005 (Tunis) sessions of the United Nations’ World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) which ultimately produced the Tunis Agenda and has spawned annual global IG Forum sessions since 2006. There are now also many IG-associated regional events and declarations e.g. Caribbean Internet Governance Forum and the current Digital Agenda for Latin America and the Caribbean (eLAC 2022).

The WSIS process produced a working definition for Internet governance that recognised the roles of all stakeholders as follows: 

Internet governance is the development and application by governments, the private sector and civil society, in their respective roles, of shared principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures, and programmes that shape the evolution and use of the Internet.

Now in 2021, the Internet and its economy have become pervasive in most countries of the world with estimates of over 4 billion users, 1.7 billion websites and roughly a hundred thousand autonomous networks connected. There are also about 400 million domain names registered and billions of dollars spent daily on e-commerce. Given the impact of ICT and the Internet on all aspects of life, issues of governance related to the Internet have engaged the full range of stakeholders including governments, the private sector and civil society. 

With the initiative towards a Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) moved to coordinate regional activities pertaining to ICT development, including those related to the WSIS and in January 2005, the CARICOM Secretariat enlisted the assistance of the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) to address the issue of Internet Governance for the region. Since September 2005 therefore, the CTU has convened and maintained annual meetings of its multi-stakeholder Caribbean Internet Governance Forum (CIGF) and other relevant fora to foster regional progress on these issues. These events have served to identify and prioritise IG issues of relevance to the Caribbean and to help build consensus on Caribbean positions for regional guidance and for advocacy in international fora.