The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is one of the most important results of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), which was held in 2003 in Geneva and in 2005 in Tunis. The Forum provides representatives from government, the private sector, civil society and the scientific community with an opportunity to discuss important issues in relation to the management of the internet. It is an experiment conducted by the UNO outside the usual intergovernmental context which brings together on an equal footing all the representatives of interested parties. In addition to the global IGF, there is a European Dialogue on Internet Governance - EuroDIG - as well as numerous national forums. The first IGF Switzerland took place in 2015 in Bern.

OFCOM and the IGF

From the outset, OFCOM has supported the IGF and has taken part in the annual meetings in coordination with interested persons from the Swiss government, the private sector and civil society. In collaboration with other partners, OFCOM and the SDC have made every effort to ensure that the IGF secretariat in Geneva can do its work, which is widely acknowledged.

From 2015 onwards, an Internet Governance Forum will also be organised regularly in Switzerland. The establishment of a Swiss IGF aims to enable Swiss players to interactively discuss among themselves topical questions concerning internet governance. The first event, organised on 19 May 2015 in Bern, made it possible to set up a national IGF exchange platform in Switzerland too, enabling all interested parties to express their opinion and to conduct exchanges with players in the worlds of politics, the private sector, civil society and science.

The programme was drawn up by a steering committee, set up with the support of OFCOM, which brings together various players from civil society: OFCOM, STA, ePower, SWITCH, Google, Swiss Internet Society, the parliamentary group for digital sustainability, ch/open, Opendata.ch, Digital Allmend, Zurich University and EURALO.

Structure of the IGF

Set up after the Tunis WSIS, the UNO Internet Governance Forum (IGF) was an immediate success. It is an annual international discussion platform on internet regulation and the management of key resources (domain names, IP addresses, etc.), with a secretariat in Geneva. Experts along with representatives of governments, business and civil society meet within this informal framework to discuss current or future issues relating to the internet. In particular, they tackle the thorny issue of the internationalisation of key resources, multilingualism of domain names, security and the opening-up of the internet and its accessibility.

The topics are selected within a participatory framework which starts from the bottom up. The IGF sets up an interactive dialogue intended to help interested parties worldwide to gain a better understanding of the internet and the other players in this area. In addition, it acts as a catalyst and proposes innovative ideas, solutions and partnerships. It allows all participants from the worlds of government, the private sector, civil society and technical and scientific communities to take better decisions in their private and professional life.

Since the first IGF in Athens in 2006, the annual conference has been held every autumn on a different continent and brings together 1500 to 2000 participants. Since then, scores of national and regional IGF structures have been established spontaneously, for example the "European Dialogue on Internet Governance" (EuroDIG). However, the IGF remains an institution with few resources at its disposal; it has to develop and establish itself on a sustainable basis.

The IGF's mandate will expire at the end of 2015 and must be renewed by the Member States of the UNO at the high-level review WSIS+10 in December 2015 in New York.

Specialist staff
Last modification 18.07.2018

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