The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is the world’s largest and most important UN multi-stakeholder platform for all aspects of digital governance. The IGF, which convenes twice a year and is open to interested persons across the globe, is a catalyst for new topics, approaches and partnerships. Its European counterpart is the European Dialogue on Internet Governance (EuroDIG).
The 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. It provides representatives from government, the private sector, civil society and the scientific community with an opportunity for discussing important issues such as internet governance. The IGF goes beyond the usual intergovernmental framework of the UN, with all stakeholders on an equal footing and the agenda based on a participatory bottom-up process. Although no decisions are made at the IGF, the results of the discussions (summarised in so-called messages) are formative in setting the agenda and provide the direction for the work taken up by other intergovernmental organisations and institutions. In addition to the IGF, there are now also over 120 regional and national forums, including the European Dialogue on Internet Governance (EuroDIG), the largest and most creative IGF forum after the global IGF in terms of developing new formats and establishing new topics, and the Swiss IGF.
Importance for Switzerland
Switzerland is an internationally highly interconnected country with limited power-political options. It therefore depends on constructive cooperation on digital governance at international level. The global UN IGF and EuroDIG provide Switzerland with an important framework for shaping discussions on, and defining ground rules for the internet based on its values and interests. They also enable Switzerland to establish and foster partnerships. And with the IGF Secretariat located in Geneva – the venue for preparatory meetings and an important international centre for digital governance – there is a direct connection between the IGF and Switzerland.
OFCOM has played a decisive role in shaping and supporting the creation and development of the IGF since it was founded in 2006, participating in the annual meetings in consultation with the relevant administrative bodies, economic stakeholders and civil society. It also represents Switzerland in the Multi-stakeholder Advisory Group (MAG), which supports the IGF process. In December 2017, OFCOM and the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) organised the twelfth IGF meeting at the United Nations in Geneva. Under the UN Secretary-General’s Roadmap on Digital Cooperation, OFCOM is also committed to further developing the IGF to become the ‘IGF+’, the cornerstone of better global digital governance. OFCOM was also one of the initiators of EuroDIG and organised the forum in Geneva in 2009, alongside the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). It also chairs the EuroDIG Support Association.
Last modification 04.03.2022