Thursday, November 02, 2006

IGF Workshop on Building Local Legal Capacity on Internet Governance

As explained in the previous post, the workshop on legal aspects of Internet Governance within the Internet Governance Forum Greece 2006 was very successful and it highlighted the fact that regardless technical and standards agreements, Internet Governance takes place through a set of regulations, most of which are implemented by laws. The seminar was jointly organized by David Satola, Senior Counsel at the Legal Vice Presidency of the World Bank, Alfa-Redi, the Cyberspace Law Committee at the Business Law Section of American Bar Association, Diplo Foundation, the Global Internet Policy Initiative, the Internet Society of Bulgaria, and the Science and Technology Law Section of the American Bar Association.
The topic of the workshop was capacity building on legal aspects of Internet Governance and the relation between international and domestic law in this process. After a brief introduction by David Satola (another congratulations and big thanks for the organization of the workshop), the presentations were started by Jim Dempsey, from the Center for Democracy and Technology, who explained what the legal issues associated with Internet Governance were and what institutions were dealing with them at different levels. His matrix relating different levels of Internet Governance, from the individual to the international, with the institutional standing of the players was a very useful tool to better understand all the following talks. He was followed by Hanne Sophie Greve, Judge of the Court of Appeal of Norway (very difficult to find public information in Norway's sites, as the Judge's link or biography), who explained the basic concepts of international law and European Human Rights law, to then relate them to their impact on domestic legal regulation and the need of following those principles when addressing both Internet Governance and the domestic capacity building related to it.
The third speaker was Kristine Dorrain (National Arbitration Forum) and she focused on the Uniform Domain-name Dispute-Resolution Policy and how it impacted Internet Governance at domestic level. Her presentation went on to show some examples of the use of that process and questioned the reasons for national level adoption and usage of them. The first part of the panel (due to the number of speakers it was divided in two parts) ended with a clear and concise explanation from Fred Tipson, Microsoft, about the need of multistakeholder participation on the policy development processes. It was important because his presentation seemed to emphasise that need, not only based on the assurance that all the views and interests were protected and taken into account, but also on the fact that “multistakeholderisation” (yes, I just made it up) was vital to the process due to complementarity of expertises and knowledge.
The second phase of the panel was opened by Veni Markovsky, from ISOC Bulgaria, who explained how, following the Bulgarian case, the relation between international and national Internet Governance processes could be solved by solving first the domestic issues. During the questions’ time, Veni repeated that his country’s case showed that it was necessary to first put the house in order before engaging with the neighbours, and that that could be achieved with a bottom-up approach. I, representing Alfa-Redi, followed with a short presentation on the need to incorporate intellectual property rights into the Internet Governance’s discussion because, even the advances in connectivity had been important, those advances contrasted the proprietization of knowledge and information accompanying the digital revolution. The problem, I argued, was located in how international norms had been used to impose changes on intellectual property domestic legislation tending to the concentration of ownership of content and how it seemed that until now capacity building had been used to domesticate domestic actors instead of to build the capacity to create its own set of rules in accordance with international law (due to time constrains, the original idea of introducing eLac 2007 was abandoned, but Erick Iriarte explained briefly about it from the floor). Peng Hwa Ang, from the Nanyang Technological University, followed explaining that in Singapore, the process of Internet Governance was addressed following a top-down approach, which resulted in a high level of trust, what can be easily related to the very high penetration rate that Internet had in his country. He also highlighted the problems of legislation being enacted too early and the need of reforms in some areas.
The two final presentations have in common the issue of coaching and knowledge transfer as important aspect of capacity building in Internet Governance. Pierre Dandjinou, of the United Nations Development Porgramme, referred to the role of national institutions in the development of national legal frameworks and how certain limitations could be overcame with advocacy, coaching and knowledge sharing at both domestic and international level. Finally, Jovan Kurbalija (Diplos Foundation) explained in detail the process of capacity building and how his organization was dealing with it. His presentation emphasised the need of capacity building for different actors of the policy making process and the necessity of tailoring programs for different situations, and expanded in the issue of “multistakeholderism” (another verbal creation) as “expertise-sharing” rather than “interest-protecting”.
As I said yesterday, it can be seen as the beginning of the beginning and I hope that we all have time to put this into paper to have soon a publication on the topic.

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