" I came, I saw...."
John reports on a conference in Istanbul.
My attendance at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Istanbul has clarified for me what this event is all about. There were abundant opportunities to learn. The first interesting fact about the IGF is that it is not a decision-making body. So why should any government pay attention to it? The fact that its decisions are not binding on any stakeholder, seem to be its biggest selling point as governments can chose from its discussions what is most relevant for them. The IGF outcome document is a reference document for all policy makers, civil societies and development organizations. There were 135 countries with over 3,000 participants at the 2014 IGF. It was massive.
The IGF is the forum where the international agenda on internet governance is set. What is discussed here influences what happens in other international forums. The multi-stakeholder composition of IGF encourages free conversations on a wide range issues of national and global relevance including the core values of inter-operability, protection of human rights, prevention of child abuse, critical internet infrastructure, gender, disability and internet surveillance. These discussions provide governments with information and ideas that can influence policy development at national and regional levels. The multi-stakeholder approach at IGF helps countries to adopt a more inclusive, bottom-up approach in developing their national policies.