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High-Level Panel on Global Internet Cooperation and Governance Mechanisms

31 January 2014
By Nora Abusitta

What the future holds for ICANN will be determined in large part to the work a diverse and expanding community of stakeholders has been contributing to several unique strategic initiatives over the past few months.

In a blog post previously last week, my colleague, Theresa Swineheart, described the avenues ICANN has opened to help chart our strategic way forward, in part, through the formation of four Strategy Panels and a fifth panel for which ICANN was an early catalyst – the High-Level Panel on Global Internet Cooperation and Governance Mechanisms. I wanted to tell you more about it.

The Panel actually is the result of a partnership with the Annenberg Foundation and the World Economic Forum. It is chaired by the President Toomas Ilves of Estonia and vice-chaired by Vint Cerf. Its impressive list of members represents a broad range of stakeholders; government, civil society, the private sector, the technical community and international organizations. An impressive team of Internet governance experts assists the Panel. They represent various parts of the community and a spectrum of views.

The work of the Panel is focused on evolving and globalizing the current Internet governance framework and the necessary mechanisms for doing so. The Panel, together with experts and observers, first met last month in London and they responded with a set of desirable properties that any future Internet ecosystem would require.

The experts and drafting team members met last week in Brussels to reexamine, synthesize and coordinate their work and are currently charged with producing a draft report. They are making progress and they are on schedule. The entire group of panelists, experts and observers will meet again in late February in Rancho Mirage, California, hosted by The Annenberg Foundation to review the draft and provide further input. At the conclusion, the Panel’s high-level draft report will be published for discussion and debate, and submitted as a proposal to the Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance, to be held in São Paulo, Brazil in April. The last meeting of the panel will be hosted by the World Economic Forum in Dubai in early May. During this gathering, the Panel will consider all feedback, including from the Brazil conference, before it releases its final report.

The Panel is coordinating closely with the Global Commission on Internet Governance (GCIG), recently launched by The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) and the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House). These two initiatives are meant to complement each other. The GCIC will begin its work shortly after the Panel’s last meeting in Dubai and approach a wider range of issues to consider over a span of two years. To ensure close coordination, the Panel has invited Gordon Smith, Deputy Chair of the GCIG to attend its February meeting in California.

The work that ultimately results from the Panel will be presented at a number of distinguished academic and civil society conferences and events, including the 2014 IGF meeting in Istanbul, in early September.

In the meantime, as the Panel continues to meet over the coming weeks and months, I’ll continue to provide updates on their progress.

February 20-28 Panel reviews draft high-level report
February 27-28 Panel meets in California
March 1 Submit high-level draft report to Brazil conference
March 1-30 April Report available for open consultation
May 3-4 Panel meets for final time in Dubai
May 10 Final high-level report issued


Nora Abusitta