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Governance options still up for discussion.

The delegations departed PrepCom-3 in Geneva on Sept. 30, leaving eight draft texts on Internet governance lying on the table, including one from the EU (delivered by the U.K. delegation) that seemed to some, including the WSIS secretariat in its official press release, to mark a departure from the EU's clear alliance with the U.S. throughout PrepCom.

However, the EU text hardly varied from the position that the EU delegation expressed in its opening statement at PrepCom-3, when the EU spokesperson itemized these points:

* The EU sees that a new model for international cooperation is needed.

* The EU sees the need to create a platform [or forum] for political dialog.

* Such a platform should build on existing structures. Existing roles should be clarified.

* There should be a stronger recognition of public policy issues.

* Whatever organizational arrangements are affected, they should contribute to the Internet.

* Governments should not seek involvement in day-to-day operations or technology.

* National sovereignty is a part of the equation.

* Whatever structure emerges needs to be lightweight and should not introduce costs or bureaucracy.

The cogent EU text proposed for the chapter on Internet governance and left lying on the table of PrepCom-3 departs not one iota from these original points. (See

The EU's proposed text favors a "cooperation model" that would work alongside, and not replace, existing organizations that play a part in Internet management. Government involvement would be limited to the level of principles and major public policy issues with no interference in day-to-day matters.

The U.K./EU proposal also supports the creation of a forum--for a set period of time--"to address multidimensional and interrelated public policy issues, through the exchange and sharing of information and good practices. It should work with existing institutions or organisations and not try to dominate issues already dealt with elsewhere. It should not perform oversight tasks."

As the delegates left Geneva, the EU text stood as the most definitive and complete statement on Internet governance put forward yet.

Of the seven other proposed texts submitted by the close of PrepCom-3, those of Canada, Argentina, Japan, and the African Group seemed to favor the creation of a forum with (if nothing else), evolution toward higher forms of governance--thus signaling their potential alliance with the EU position.

The texts proffered by Brazil and the Russian Federation appeared to have mellowed somewhat from earlier positions taken by those delegations, but they still seemed to lean to the right by reasserting broad WSIS principles, which can be interpreted in many ways.

Only the text offered by the Islamic Republic of Iran still clung overtly to the WGIG report's models for centric government-dominated structures. The Iranian statement asserts that governments must have a role. It proposes the formation of an International Governmental Council for Global Public Policy and Oversight, anchored in the U.N., with various authorities over technical and nontechnical aspects, including facilitation of treaties.

A text subsequently appeared from Saudi Arabia on behalf of the Arab Group, which supported the creation of a forum but also advocated that the WGIG's Model I be adopted for oversight functions.

As the delegates went home from Geneva, the balance of power appeared to be not much different from when they arrived.
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Title Annotation:PrepCom-3; world summit on the information society; egovernance
Publication:Information Today
Geographic Code:4E
Date:Nov 1, 2005
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