The UNECE, the Council of Europe (CoE) and Association for Progressive Communications (APC) have been concerned about issues of information and participation in Internet Governance since the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and the Working Group on Internet Governance which informed it during 2005. They initiated discussions and held workshops around this theme at both Athens (2006) and Rio de Janeiro (2007) 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.
The WSIS principles affirm aspirations for inclusiveness which are generally endorsed within the Internet space, but offer little in the way of practical approaches to implementation. The principles set out in the Aarhus Convention are consistent with the WSIS principles, and have the advantage of being tested in an established, if different, area of national and international governance. They therefore offer a potentially worthwhile starting point for considering how the WSIS principles might be more effectively addressed.
The proposition examined in this paper is essentially concerned with process, i.e. with the means of engagement between stakeholders and decision-making forums. The proposition put forward by UNECE, the Council of Europe and APC is essentially threefold. As summarised in the introduction to the paper, it is:
- that the quality and inclusiveness of Internet governance would be improved by steps to make information about decision-making processes and practice more open and more widely available, and to facilitate more effective participation by more stakeholders;
- that ways of achieving this might be encapsulated in a “code of good practice” concerned with information, participation and transparency;
- that this “code of good practice” should be based on the WSIS principles as well as on existing arrangements in internet governance institutions, and might draw on the experience of developing and implementing the Aarhus Convention.
“Towards a code of good practice on public participation in Internet governance - Building on the principles of WSIS and the Aarhus Convention” ENG