The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) was first convened in 2003 to discuss the impact of information and communications technologies (ICTs) on our society. The Summit was significant because it involved heads of state–not just regulatory agencies or ministries—signalling a new era in the evolution of ICTs, up to this point largely outside government control and influence. WSIS met twice: the first time in 2003 and again in 2005. Its outcomes have since become cornerstones of international discourse on internet policy and governance. But like other UN summits, WSIS was a snapshot in time and was set to be revisited in ten years.
Now, in 2015, countries are preparing for the Summit’s ten-year review, referred to as WSIS+10. For some, WSIS+10 is exciting because it is the only place within the UN system that explicitly and holistically addresses the link between ICTs and development. For others, the excitement is qualified by the potential of this process to exacerbate broader political disagreements among countries in areas such as international peace and security, free expression, or gender rights. The Review, taking place within the framework of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), formally began in June 2015, and is set to culminate with a high-level event in December. The December meeting is expected to produce a negotiated outcome text, which will be adopted by the governments represented at UNGA.
Even though the UNGA governments hold the final pen, interested stakeholders will have a number of formal and informal opportunities over the coming months to engage their decision-makers in an effort to influence policy positions and shape the Review outcomes.
So what are the world’s governments thinking in the lead-up to the Review? It is obviously impractical to review the perspectives of all 193 UN member states. However, emerging consensus on an outcome can often be determined by a review of a smaller sample of key actors. This report aims to inform stakeholder engagement by providing insight into 15 key government perspectives: Brazil, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, South Africa, Sweden, United Kingdom, and United States.
Although stakeholders need to consider the full range of complexities pertaining to an intergovernmental negotiation process in developing their engagement strategies, understanding the perspectives of key actors is a good place to start. We hope that this report will assist in that endeavour.