As the next step in its push for a new global Internet governance mechanism, India recently presented to the United Nations a proposal for the establishment of a Committee for Internet-Related Policies (CIRP).
This committee will help to frame international public policies on issues relating to Internet governance. The proposal was formally submitted to the 66th session of the U.N. General Assembly a few days ago by Dushyant Singh, Member of Parliament.
It follows an initiative made under the aegis of IBSA (India Brazil South Africa) to establish a body to deal with Internet governance issues within the framework of the U.N. It evoked a mixed response after it caught the attention of the global community in September.
The United Nations Committee for Internet-Related Policies should consist of 50 member-states, “chosen/elected on the basis of equitable geographical representation” and four advisory groups, one each for civil society, the private sector, the inter-governmental and international organisations and the technical and academic community. The advisory groups will provide “inputs and recommendations to the CIRP.” “The CIRP will report directly to the General Assembly and present recommendations for consideration, adoption and dissemination among all relevant inter-governmental bodies and international organisations,” the Indian proposal says.
It also seeks to allay apprehensions that the move would undermine the ‘multi-stakeholder model' of Internet governance that is in practice today. “The intent of proposing a multilateral and multi-stakeholder mechanism is not to control the Internet or allow governments to have the last word on regulating the Internet, but to make sure that the Internet is governed not unilaterally but in an open, democratic, inclusive and participatory manner, with the participation of all stakeholders, so as to evolve universally acceptable and globally harmonised policies in important areas and pave the way for a credible, constantly evolving, stable and well-functioning Internet that plays its due role in improving the quality of peoples' lives everywhere.”
When its response was sought to the Indian proposal, Internet Society (ISOC), an international NGO, cautioned against the creation of new U.N. bodies. "We believe such developments would be in default of the Tunis Agenda, which calls for multi-stakeholder cooperation in the Internet policy development process,” said Rajnesh D. Singh, Regional Director, Asian Bureau, ISOC.
“Should there be any move towards a new U.N. instrument pertaining to Internet policy, it must be done with the involvement of all stakeholders, in an open, inclusive, and transparent fashion. The Internet works because its governance is open, inclusive, collaborative, and transparent. It allows for innovation without permission and encourages the free flow of ideas and the exchange of information across borders; it facilitates innovation and spurs economic growth and thus contributes to social and economic development,” he said.
The deliberations of the existing Internet Governance Forum and its other inputs will be considered by the CIRP.
India has called for the establishment of a working group under the Commission on Science and Technology for Development for drawing up the terms of reference for the CIRP, “with a view to actualising it within the next 18 months.”