Showdown internet governance

The final round of preparations for the World Summit on the Information Society has begun in Tunis

The closer the 2. As the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) got underway, the media debate over Internet governance became more controversial. "Wall Street Journal" and "New York Times" put the topic on their front pages. The former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt criticized in the "International Herald Tribune" the EU for a diplomatic blunder. EU Commissioner Vivien Reding renewed European reservations about unilateral U.S. control. U.S. Senator Coleman raised the specter of the UN taking over the Internet. And Kofi Annan, for his part, wrote in the "Washington Post", that the UN does not want to take over the Internet, but that a majority of states would like to see the existing system develop further. The question of who should govern the Internet of the future and how heated tempers flared to such an extent that the sparks flew even between Brussels and Washington. During his visit to the White House, U.S. President Bush asked Barroso, President of the EU Commission, how the U.S. would react to the EU’s proposal for a "new model of cooperation" for the Internet, and whether this is not an indirect invitation for "Rogue states", Censor the Internet.

When at noon on Sunday the 2.000 negotiators in the confined space "Sidi Bou Said" met for the first time at the Tunis Crane Center for the end-game of negotiations, it seemed at first that the soup would not be eaten as thick as it had been cooked on both sides of the Atlantic in recent weeks. Relatively quickly, agreement was reached on key principles for future Internet management, such as the principle of multistakeholderism, openness to innovation, market orientation, security and stability, freedom and human rights, and so on. And by the time midnight rolled around, it also almost looked as if some kind of horse-trading could take place: If the rest of the world refrained from demanding a new oversight regime for the management of the Internet’s core resources, the Americans could agree to the idea of creating a new global Internet forum.

The U.S. is always in favor of dialogue, U.S. delegation leader David Gross had once again said, but added that the European idea of a global Internet forum was not a good idea "new cooperation model" The UN had already failed to reach an agreement on Internet governance, which in recent weeks had been given such a negative interpretation and implied the creation of an intergovernmental oversight body, was unacceptable to the United States. And the UN is already not united for it at all. But, as I said, a forum could be envisioned if it were clear what the forum would discuss and who would host it.

The Europeans took up the ball – somewhat contritely, to be sure. The spokesman of the EU Council Presidency David Hendon, who six weeks ago in Geneva introduced the idea of the "New Cooperation Model" replied that one does not stick to words and that it would be possible to find a different formulation. Auch die Chinesen schienen sich diesem Deal anschlieben zu wollen. The Chinese ambassador started his speech by saying that there is no need to be afraid of the UN, but then he made it clear that China is now on the way to a market economy and that an increasingly strong private sector is developing. The idea is not an Internet revolution, but an Internet evolution, and a progressive one at that. The American nodded, and so, in addition to the principles that were agreed upon during the first night of negotiations, the American also agreed that the "progressive evolution" added.

On Monday morning, therefore, it seemed that all that was left to do was to clarify the details of the mandate, the form of organization and the financing of the forum, and then to bring the matter to a close. But far from it. No sooner had the details of the forum’s mandate become entangled than the real conflicts over the completely opposing understanding of the future of the Internet erupted again with full force. The first question was whether the forum should also deal with the topic of the conference "Internet supervision"" should or should not be concerned with. And continued on the point of where the forum should be located.

The Americans made it clear time and again that their possible yes to a forum should not be misunderstood. The forum was not an entry point into a process that would actually end with a new model of oversight. Exactly, but that is what the others want, otherwise the forum would have no sense at all.

Closely connected with this is the question of settlement. Not at the UN it sounds from the US bank. Where else, say the others. No one has the authority, legitimacy and global acceptance as the UN Secretary General. Nothing against Mr. Kofi Annan, the American said, but the UN should first finish its reform before saddling its boss with new tasks. If one wanted to have a discussion club, then one should make use of an existing platform like e.g. the ISOC.B. the "Internet Society" (ISOC). They had experience in organizing rough conferences. This in turn triggered head-shaking among the people on the other side. ISOC had clearly stated in its statement on the WGIG report that the WGIG idea of a forum was not a good idea and that it strictly rejected a forum. Were de USA now to make the goat the Gartner? The Russian delegate, on the other hand, brought up an old chestnut and suggested that the whole thing be located in Geneva at the ITU, which again infuriated the USA. .

Thus, the chairman, Pakistani Ambassador Khan, who operated with great diplomatic skill, became increasingly caught up in the inexorably spinning wheel of the increasingly acrimonious debates. Even the formation of three ad hoc working groups, each of which spent three hours on one or two paragraphs, brought no breakthrough. When shortly before midnight the remaining 800 negotiators, exhausted after 16 hours, headed for the shuttle buses that would take them back to their hotels, almost nothing was clear.

When they reached 9.00 a.m., Ambassador Kahn once again made it clear to the negotiators that there was no point in continuing without the necessary political will. One should then be honest, stop the whole thing and declare the failure of the conference. But again, no one wanted to do that, and so the mooing dispute over paragraphs 62 and following began all over again.