Report from the workshop 26. Towards a code of good practice on public participation in Internet governance - Building on the principles of WSIS and the Aarhus Convention.
Organizers: the Council of Europe (CoE), United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the Association for Progressive Communication (APC)
Discussing the proposal for a “Code of good practice on public participation, access to information and transparency in Internet governance”.
During the second Internet Governance Forum the CoE, the UNECE and the APC organized a best practice forum that discussed the possibility of using the UNECE Aarhus Convention as a benchmark for developing a code of conduct for Internet Governance. Following the positive response to the “Best Practice Forum”, a study was commissioned to develop a Code of Conduct that could serve as input to the Internet governance discussions.
A consultation, entitled “Towards a code of good practice building on the principles of WSIS and the Aarhus Convention”, was organized jointly by UNECE, the Council of Europe and the Association for Progressive Communication on 23 May 2008 in Geneva.
Subsequently a discussion paper was developed for the third Internet Governance meeting. The purpose of the workshop was to explore if a roadmap for how such a code could be developed.
During the workshop several speakers from the audience expressed their support for the initiative.
The main conclusion from the workshop was that Internet and its governance is made up from a large number of organizations, standards bodies and governments and in view of the concern about its governance it was felt that the quality and the inclusiveness of Internet Governance would be improved by making information about decision-making processes and practice more open and more widely available, and to facilitate more effective participation by more stakeholders.
A practical way of achieving this could be the development of a code of good practice dealing with information, participation and transparency. Such a code should be based on the WSIS principles and the on existing arrangements in Internet Governance institutions. In this context the experience of developing and implementing the Aarhus convention could serve as a benchmark for the work.
The first aim is to make it applicable across a broad range of decision making bodies which means that the code must be expressed in broad and general terms. However, it should not be a very comprehensive document but be restricted to a couple of pages.
As a way forward it was suggested a first step could be a comparative assessment (mapping) of existing arrangements in a number of selected internet governance institutions that would agree to participate in such an exercise. However equally important would also be not only to listen to institutions but also to listen carefully to the users. In this case a bottom up approach is as important as the top down.
Following such a mapping exercise a small working group could develop a work plan leading to a draft code which could then be presented for discussion in the wider Internet community.
The UNECE offered to host a first working group meeting at the United Nations in Geneva.