(Sharm El Sheikh, 15-18 november)
At the second part of the World Summit on the Information Society (Tunis, 2005), the Council of Europe initiated discussions with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) on public participation in internet governance. The three entities have held joint workshops around this theme at both the Rio de Janeiro (2007) and Hyderabad (2008) meetings of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF); in both cases drawing particular attention to the Aarhus Convention as a potential starting point for thinking about the principles and instruments that might apply.
A “Best Practice Forum” on Public participation in Internet governance: emerging issues, good practices and proposed solutions, held during the Rio IGF, enabled participants to explore the possibility of a mechanism that would enable Internet governance institutions to “commit themselves in their activities to transparency, public participation and access to information.” A number of speakers expressed their support for the objectives of the initiative and there was considerable informal interest in the relevance of the Aarhus Convention both within the Best Practice Forum and beyond.
During the February 2008 IGF consultation meeting in Geneva, the desirability of further work on this theme was emphasised by, among others, UNDESA and the Government of Switzerland.
An open stakeholder workshop was held in Geneva on 23 May 2008, on “Concept and Possible Scope of a Code of Good Practice on Participation, Access to Information and Transparency in Internet Governance”. A discussion paper commissioned by the Council of Europe was presented and discussed. At the third IGF in Hyderabad (3-6 December 2008), a workshop (No 26) was organised on this theme.
On 13 May 2009, at a discussion meeting held in the margins of the Open Consultations for the IGF 2009, the initiative presented a second discussion paper, containing a mapping of existing information and participation arrangements of major internet governance entities. It is envisaged that at the 2009 IGF in November a draft Code of good practice on Participation-Access to Information and Transparency will be presented.