Internet Governance Forum

Organization founded in 2006 by the United Nations. The IGF is a global multistakeholder platform that facilitates the discussion of public policy issues pertaining to the internet.

What is the Internet Governance Forum?

Internet governance was one of the most controversial issues at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and at the subsequent WSIS+10 review by the General Assembly in the wake of the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015. Cognizant of the fact that any Internet governance approach should be inclusive and responsive, the WSIS mandated the Secretary-General of the United Nations to convene the Global Internet Governance Forum for multistakeholder policy dialogue. The convening of the IGF was announced by the Secretary-General of the United Nations on 18 July 2006.

As a platform for discussions, the IGF brings various people and stakeholder groups to the table as equals to exchange information and share good policies and practices relating to the Internet and technologies. While the IGF may not have decision-making mandates, it informs and inspires those who do. It facilitates common understandings and knowledge exchange of how to maximize Internet opportunities and address risks and challenges.

The IGF also gives stakeholders from all countries, including developing countries, the opportunity to engage in the debate on Internet governance and it contributes to capacity building, allowing these stakeholders to build knowledge and skills that will facilitate their participation in existing Internet governance institutions and arrangements. Ultimately the involvement of all stakeholders, from developed as well as developing countries, from governments to international organisations, from the private sector to the civil society, is necessary for advancing dynamic public policies in Internet governance.

What is the mandate of the Internet Governance Forum?

The mandate of the IGF is set out in paragraphs 72 to 80 of the Tunis Agenda for the Information Society (the Tunis Agenda):

“We ask the UN Secretary-General, in an open and inclusive process, to convene, by the second quarter of 2006, a meeting of the new forum for multi-stakeholder policy dialogue—called the Internet Governance Forum (IGF). The mandate of the Forum is to:

  • Discuss public policy issues related to key elements of Internet governance in order to foster the sustainability, robustness, security, stability and development of the Internet;
  • Facilitate discourse between bodies dealing with different cross-cutting international public policies regarding the Internet and discuss issues that do not fall within the scope of any existing body;
  • Interface with appropriate inter-governmental organizations and other institutions on matters under their purview;
  • Facilitate the exchange of information and best practices, and in this regard make full use of the expertise of the academic, scientific and technical communities;
  • Advise all stakeholders in proposing ways and means to accelerate the availability and affordability of the Internet in the developing world;
  • Strengthen and enhance the engagement of stakeholders in existing and/or future Internet governance mechanisms, particularly those from developing countries;
  • Identify emerging issues, bring them to the attention of the relevant bodies and the general public, and, where appropriate, make recommendations;
  • Contribute to capacity building for Internet governance in developing countries, drawing fully on local sources of knowledge and expertise;
  • Promote and assess, on an ongoing basis, the embodiment of WSIS principles in Internet governance processes;
  • Discuss, inter alia, issues relating to critical Internet resources;
  • Help to find solutions to the issues arising from the use and misuse of the Internet, of particular concern to everyday users;
  • Publish its proceedings

At the WSIS+10 review in 2015, UN Member States “acknowledge the role of the Internet Governance Forum as a multi-stakeholder platform for discussion of Internet governance issues. We support the recommendations in the report of the Working Group on Improvements to the Internet Governance Forum of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development,10 which the General Assembly took note of in its resolution 68/198 of 20 December 2013, and we call for their accelerated implementation. We extend for another 10 years the existing mandate of the Internet Governance Forum as set out in paragraphs 72 to 78 of the Tunis Agenda. We recognize that during that period, the Forum should continue to show progress on working modalities and the participation of relevant stakeholders from developing countries. We call upon the Commission, within its regular reporting, to give due consideration to fulfillment of the recommendations in the report of its Working Group”.