The AFTLD Secretariat Participated in the 14th United Nations Internet Governance Forum in Berlin Germany. Various AFTLD members participated in the meeting. These include the Kenya Network Information Centre (.Ke), Adetic (.TD), the Ghana Network Information Centre (.GH), The ZA Domain Name Authority (.ZA), the Madagascar Network Information Centre (NIC.MG), ATI the operator of the Tunisia ccTLD (.TN) and ARCEP the operator of the Burkina Faso ccTLD (.BF).
The Secretariat also attended the joint Regional Organization ccTLD Staff meeting for General Managers and Staff from APTLD, CENTR and LACTLD. The meeting explored possibilities of having joint workshop at Future Internet Governance Fora and areas of common interest in the year 2020.
The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) 2019 brought together representatives from governments, the technical community, business and civil society to discuss amplifying digital cooperation.
The IGF convened for the fourteenth time since its establishment in 2005 and was hosted by the Government of Germany in Berlin. Under the overarching theme, ‘One World. One Net. One Vision’, the IGF 2019 provided a substantive multistakeholder platform for engaged and informed discussions about policy issues pertaining to the Internet, and how the Internet can support and fulfil the nexus of respecting human rights and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
What Made IGF 2019 Unique
Highly Focused Themes Guiding Intersessional and Berlin Activities
An open, bottom-up Call for Thematic Inputs launched in January 2019 identified three themes as the highest priorities for IGF participants:
■ Data governance
■ Digital inclusion
■ Security, safety, stability and resilience
These themes helped shape many of the IGF 2019 preparatory and intersessional work processes.
Overarching theme of 14th IGF: “One World. One Net. One Vision.”
Hosted in a country where memories of the tearing down of a physical wall and resulting reunification are still fresh in the minds of many of its citizens. The main theme of “One World. One Net. One Vision.” resonated highly with participants at IGF 2019. In a world where there is
an increasing trend to erect physical barriers between nations, participants in Berlin reflected on the social, cultural and economic effects of similar barriers, both intentional and otherwise, being raised in the online world via developments such as:
■ Differing legal and regulatory regimes
■ Efforts to undermine online security via both states and malicious actors
■ The spread of misinformation via social media algorithms
■ The failure to adequately address growing digital divides
■ High-Level Statements on the IGF 2019 Theme
In the Opening Session of IGF 2019, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres observed that virtual walls also have the effect of amplifying existing digital, social and political divides. He declared, “If we do not work together to address these divides, we will be remembered as the generation that ruined the early promise of the Internet.”
Also, in the Opening Session, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel noted that just as people’s yearning for freedom, connection and a hope for progress had resulted in the fall of the Berlin Wall, the same values were behind the vision of the creators of the Internet and the World Wide
Web. She urged participants, “May you be inspired by this location, where 30 years ago, when the Wall fell, it marked the dawn of a new age.”
Both Guterres and Merkel supported the United Nations as the appropriate platform for reshaping global Internet governance to ensure a free, open, and decentralized Internet that is secure and stable and can support development for all. Both reinforced the IGF, a platform for all stakeholders to come together and address pressing policy issues related to the Internet, as the most appropriate forum within the United Nations for advancing and evolving Internet governance norms and frameworks.
■ Full statement by UN Secretary-General António Guterres
■ Full statement by German Chancellor Angela Merkel