The Declaration for the Future of the Internet – WS 06 2022

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22 June 2022 | 12:15 - 13:15 CEST | FabLab / Fibonacci | Video recording | Transcript
Consolidated programme 2022 overview / Day 2

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Session teaser

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Session description

This session will engage participants in discussing how to promote and implement the principles of the Declaration for the Future of the Internet (DFI). It will offer the opportunity to compare views and discuss the role which the UN Internet Governance Forum (IGF) and the national and regional IGFs (NRIs) including EuroDIG could play in the DFI process. The session will discuss possible synergies between the DFI and the initiatives activated by the UN Secretary General (Roadmap for Digital Cooperation and the Global Digital Compact). The Declaration represents a political commitment by the DFI’s Partners to advance a positive vision for the Internet and digital technologies and to:

  • Protect human rights and fundamental freedoms of all people;
  • Promote a global Internet that advances the free flow of information;
  • Advance inclusive and affordable connectivity so that all people can benefit from the digital economy;
  • Promote trust in the global digital ecosystem, including through protection of privacy;
  • Protect and strengthen the multistakeholder approach to governance that keeps the Internet running for the benefit of all.

The session will debate and make recommendations on how the DFI partners will reach out to non-governmental stakeholders. It will compare views on how structured the outreach process by the DFI partners needs to be - or whether it can be left to individual partner governments to decide how to reach out to secure support and work together to achieve the vision.


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  • Concettina Cassa, AgID (Agenzia per l’Italia Digitale)

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Key Participants

  • Paul Mitchell, IGF MAG Chair (on line)
  • Esteve Sanz, Head of Internet Governance Sector, DG CONNECT, European Commission (in person)
  • Anriette Esterhuysen, Executive Director of APC, former MAG Chair (in person)
  • Wolfgang Kleinwächter, University of Aarhus (in person)
  • Jorge Cancio, Swiss Government (online)
  • Riccardo Villa, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Italy (online)
  • Nigel Hickson, DCMS, UK Government (in person)

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Video record


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This text, document, or file is based on live transcription. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART), captioning, and/or live transcription are provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings. This text, document, or file is not to be distributed or used in any way that may violate copyright law.

>> All right. Hello, everyone. Welcome. My name is Sophia. I’m the host from the workshop for today, coming to you live. We will start the session on Declaration for the Future of the Internet soon. But before we start I would like to ask my cohost to introduce yourself and the session host.

>> Hello. My name is Colette. I will walk through the session rules because we are operating in a hybrid format. Likely we have our Moderator here on site with us. So the dynamic of the questions might be a little bit different because we also have a lot of participants on site. But if you are attending online, make sure you are muted throughout the session. And if you wish to ask a question or speak, please raise your hand through the Zoom functionality. If you don’t know how to do it, we can help you. If you are on site, please raise your hands and the Moderator will give you the floor. Thank you very much. I will now pass the floor to our Moderator.

>> MODERATOR: Thanks a lot. Good morning, everyone. And thanks for joining this workshop on the Declaration for the Future of the Internet. It is a great honor for me and a pleasure to moderate this workshop with such important speakers.

As you know in April 28, the United States, European Commission and among with 60 partners signed and launched the Declaration for the Future of the Internet. That’s a political commitment among the partners to advance a positive vision for the Internet and for digital technologies.

This Declaration reconfirms and recommits the past and support a future for the Internet that is open and free and available and secure. One global Internet is really open and inclusive. And that fosters privacy and Human Rights. It includes five main principles where the departments are committed, too. So they want to protect Human Rights and fundamental freedoms of our people. Promote a global Internet that advanced the free flow of information. And also advance inclusive and affordable connectivity for all so that all people could benefit from Digital Economy. But also they were committed to promote trust in the global digital cooperation including protection of privacy and also to strengthen the multi-stakeholder approach to governance that keeps the Internet running for the benefit of all.

So in the workshop, today we want to reflect and share a few thoughts on this initiative with some important speakers that are dedicating most of their life’s work to the Internet. So we want to discuss how we can support this process to promote and implement the principles for the future of the Internet. EuroDIG could also support this process to promote and implement the principles of the Declaration of the Future of the Internet.

We have Paul Mitchell from the IGF MAG Chair; Anriette Esterhuysen, former MAG Chair, and also Esteve Sanz from the European Commission. And Wolfgang Kleinwachter, Professor of Aarhus University and Nigel from the UK Government. And then Riccardo Villa from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the Italian Government. Let’s start with Paul Mitchell, IGF MAG Chair. I don’t know if you can hear us.

>> PAUL MITCHELL: I can hear you just fine.

>> MODERATOR: Thanks a lot for joining this workshop. I know it is very early in the states now. So the question for you is as you know, since the beginning, the IGF has been discussing and addressing public policy issues related to the Internet with a multi-stakeholder approach. And the principles that are included in the Declaration from the Future Internet sustain a global Internet that reinforces the Democratic principles, fundamental freedoms but using a multi-stakeholder approach.

So in your opinion, how the IGF, the NRIs, the Intersessional activities could support and promote these principles of the Declaration of the Future of the Internet?

>> PAUL MITCHELL: Thank you for the question. And thank you, greetings to everyone who is there Trieste. I’m sorry I can’t be there.

I want to make a note that really the old is new and the new is old when it comes to supporting the growth and development of the Internet around the world.

At this point it is old news that we have demonstrated the value of the Internet and the dependency on it with the pandemic, the fact that we are doing divided hybrid workshops instead of all in person.

And we’re sort of recovering our footing after almost three years of isolation from any people. That’s made possible by the connectivity that’s growing from around 400 million people in the early 2000s. We have reached 5 billion plus users at this point. But many are living in off-world existence. Now this is really very important, the Declaration for the Future of the Internet is all about ensuring connectivity and access to the world’s population.

And ensuring that there is some consistency in the way that the policy is applied. In the early 2000s the Internet Governance world really started with the World Summit on the Information Society in the Tunis Agenda and without the original mandate of the IGF. The IGF to bring this around to how the IGF supports the Declaration for the Future of the Internet, since its inception the IGF has been discussing and addressing public policies related to the Internet.

So when we have the new Declaration for the Future of the Internet leading in to these same ideas that the IGF has championed, we have one plus one equals three result. Today we are seeing many other international mechanisms emerging, including the roadmap for digital cooperation, our common agenda and the Global Digital Compact and that Declaration for the Future of the Internet comes in on top of those as well.

The IGF has from its initial groundbreaking multi-stakeholder approach kept pace with and evolved and endured demonstrating the durability of the multi-stakeholder approach. This year the MAG has really focused on the programme structure that reflects the most recent global policy and action trends, including recognition of the Declaration for the Future of the Internet.

The structure for this year’s IGF is built around the theme with topics that are closely aligned with the Secretary-General’s Global Compact. The IGF is more than a conference. It is a platform and ecosystem that includes substantial Intersessional engagement working together with stakeholders from around the world brainstorming through the best practice Forums on cybersecurity, on gender and Internet fragmentation and meaningful access.

At this point there are 24 issues focused Dynamic Coalitions. And these NRIs have brought the attention of the world’s numerous Internet Governance issues through the platform effectively raising their visibility. In summary the IGF is a powerful ally that has pioneered the topic of Internet Governance. The IGF has grown in stature and influence and demonstrated the tangible benefits of the multi-stakeholder model. And that’s a core contribution to the future in supporting the DFI. So thank you.

>> MODERATOR: Thanks a lot for so important reflection on the DFI and the IGF. I hope there will be more synergy between the DFI and the IGF. And now I give the floor to Esteve Sanz, the Internet Governance sector to the European Commission. And the question for you is always referring to the Declaration for the Future of the Internet that reaffirms the vision of open, free and global, interoperable and secure internet. And this – the principle of the Declaration is in line with the European principles as they have been included in the Declaration of Digital Rights and Principles. So the question for you is how the principle for – of the Declaration could be translated in more concrete policies in action. And if you can just share a few thoughts on the impact that the Declaration could have on the European policy, that’s a plan with the Commission to engage new stakeholders in the DFI, there are follow-up activities. And also EuroDIG could support this and weigh this process that would be initiated by the European Commission. The floor is yours. So many, many questions for you.

>> ESTEVE SANZ: Indeed. Many, many questions. It is my privilege to be able to address some of them very quickly. And very happy to be here on site, behind you, looking at you.

So yeah, we’ll just make a brief speech because I think Paul has somehow captured a little bit the spirit of this interconnection within the Declaration and the multi-stakeholder model which I think is very important. Let me start by saying how important this Declaration is for the EU. We feel it. We feel it can be really a needed instrument, that really covers things that we think states should do and should not do in relation to the open Internet. It is very general principles that as Paul was suggesting. It really fits very easily with the IGF and principles that we discussed.

Nonetheless it was very important to put them on paper and to rally as many states as possible to commit to those principles. Because basically they were in a state of play these days on the open Internet where we feel that we need to recommend to the open Internet as public authorities to fulfill the initial idea of the Internet, which it is still there. But we know that it requires work.

This is a very important process for the European Union. There has been extensive consultations with the EU Member States. We have shaped the Declaration. And we have worked together with the partners of the Declaration to really feel comfortable with the final document. And we will work very intensively for the proper implementation of the Declaration, which we think is key.

And we also think indeed it is very important with the multi-stakeholder community this implementation. So we all know the key thing about any Resolution, any documents, any – is how it gets implemented. And we are going to take it very seriously. And we are going to make it a truly multi-stakeholder process in its implementation. Even though the Declaration itself refers to things that states do and endure. An example of a Internet shut down, et cetera, it has a very strong Human Rights element which I really think is what’s behind and preparatory intervention that that’s not affected. That’s not recommended. We need to see Human Rights as underlining any regulation that might affect the Internet as the element that we keep saying. The implementation will be good.

Next steps, we are going to have a High-Level Political Conference this year in 2022. That it will be by the Commission of the multi-stakeholders where there is going to be different sections, workshops involving members of the multi-stakeholder community. But we’ll discuss how to implement each and every one of these principles, general five principles but then they are subdivided in to different issues.

So this conference is going to kick-start this reflection of the implementation. It will be a multi-stakeholder conference. But it will be states invited in the Declaration. There are 60 states that are subscribed to the Declaration including all EU states. Once we kick-start this implementation process at the conference, which is slated to take place in June. We are still under discussion with partners. Then we will indeed kick-start a much more – a very interesting initiation of involvement of the Declaration with EuroDIG. Communities in IGF and (inaudible) to have these dedicated sessions on the Declaration. To gather the input and feedback and elements that the IGF community, EuroDIG community can bring to the table. And for these the concrete shape, it is something that’s up for discussion.

Or, you know, at some point we need to go very concrete. We will need to design workshops that have the time and capacity to discuss very concrete, relevant information to the implementation. Let’s see what format we can find. But bottom line is that the implementation of this Declaration which is going to be the key process in the end of the Declaration will have a multi-stakeholder approach.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you. (Off microphone).

>> ESTEVE SANZ: The big conference will be this year. I cannot provide anything else. And we have also the expectation that the IGF will accommodate a session, a general session on the Declaration. The process affecting more signatory – something that will be done in the next month or next years. Again the Declaration really it translates somehow at this more global level. Something that’s already on the table in the political process. If you want to address this, how this is going to affect the EU policy making, I think it really reflects what we are trying to do. But it also reflects our own internal process in the drafting of a – what we call the Declaration of Digital Rights and Principles. It was a process that was already going on before the Declaration came to the table. And it is now this Declaration of the future of Internet reflects those principles. The implementation of both documents is something that we are going to take very seriously. Very important strategic process.

>> MODERATOR: Thanks a lot. Now let’s move to Anriette Esterhuysen, executive director of IPC and former MAG Chair. The question for you is on how the Declaration could attract more countries like African countries, India, Brazil. And in what way your stakeholders is promoting the Declaration to suit. And the other question is if in your opinion the Declaration is adequately supported by the Civil Society and the businesses. So the floor is yours.

>> ANRIETTE ESTERHUYSEN: Thanks, Titi. And I hope you can hear me. And it is great to have people online and in the room. And I have to tell you the ones that are not yet in the room is an incredible room. You should try and do a virtual walk-through.

Titi, I like much of the Declaration. So I want to disclose that I particularly like the idea of reclaiming the promise of the Internet. In fact, I would like the Declaration to be stronger on securing the publicness of the Internet.

And I think it has actually failed. It has failed at the level of really using the bottom-up multi-stakeholder approach. It was presented more or less as a finished product. It was first raised at the IGF in Katowice. The other Forums were not given the opportunity to help shed that Declaration.

And secondly, I think it also sadly missed the opportunity of using the multilateral Intergovernmental process to get buy-in from other governments, particularly from the Global South. I’m very glad that Europe is supporting it. But I think it is also easier for Europe to support it in many respects because of the related documents that Europe has produced which have been consulted very, very thoroughly in the European context.

To get info from India, Brazil, other countries in the Global South, you don’t give them a finished product and say support it. You start working with them. You help them set the agenda. You have them give – give them the opportunity to shape it. It might make it more difficult. It might mean you have fewer principles. I think the risk, the benefit of doing it in this way and the way that the U.S. worked on the Declaration and the way that Europe has worked with the Declaration on the Internet principles, is that you have a more substantial document that has more substantive content. That’s the strength.

The risk of working in a more bottom-up multi-stakeholder way and in working in a more truly multilateral way is that you have less substantive content. Maybe fewer things that everyone agrees on. And I think you have to weigh those two against one another. What is of more value at this point in our project towards effective, accountable Human Rights oriented Internet Governance. Fewer principles that everyone agrees on or most people agree on or more in-depth detailed principles that some parts of the world agree on. I think we need both. And I think there is value in both. But I think we also have to be honest about recognizing these instruments for what they are and what the limitations are.

And just before I stop, I want to remind us of the NETmundial because I think there are many people here at EuroDIG who were very instrumental in NETmundial – I don’t think that Demi is here. At EuroDIG we go from Wolfgang Kleinwachter, Adam, people that were part of that process. Other people from Brazil who were working on –

>> MODERATOR: There is Nigel.

>> ANRIETTE ESTERHUYSEN: Nigel Hickson, exactly. For those who don’t know what NETmundial is, it was a process presented by Brazil and the other so-called Internet Society, given leadership by the Government of Brazil. And at the time when there was a lot of potential of the transition and the U.S. Government’s control over ICANN and IANA and I think what the Brazilians and partners succeeded in doing that, they made visible to the people in the North or people in the U.S. who don’t understand why it was a problem for some people that ICANN was under the control of the U.S. Government. That made it understandable to people. It created the opportunity for collaboration between the actors in the Global South who were uncomfortable with those arrangements and actors in the Global North such as the European Union and many European states that were not comfortable with the relationship between ICANN and the U.S. Government. Because it made it visible, that made greater common understanding and then created the opportunity for agreeing on a common process for the IANA process to take place. I don’t think the IANA transition would have gone ahead in a way that it did.

Secondly, I think what the NETmundial did was that it drafted its statement, NETmundial statement of principles on Internet Governance in a very bottom-up way. It started with a blank slate and the multi-stakeholder community could say what they wanted. Where it failed, and I think it is important to look at the bottom-up process, it wasn’t able to then transition or translate that consultative process in to the multilateral space which meant that many of the many UN Member States opted out to the end, Russia opted out. India opted out and you need a multilateral Forum where you are able to negotiate that kind of agreement. I do think that we shouldn’t forget NETmundial.

And just finally, I think what I would like to see is the Declaration of the Future of the Internet used as a preparatory input to the Global Digital Compact. And I think that can be its real value. But I do think that we have to go back a few steps if you want buy-in from Civil Society, multi-stakeholder community and from countries in the Global South.

>> MODERATOR: Thanks for your suggestion. Very good. We can try to think more from the NETmundial process, to learn from this process and maybe apply to the Declaration of the Future of the Internet in the next months and the use as preparation for the Global Digital Compact.

Now I give the floor to Professor Wolfgang Kleinwachter from the University of Aarhus. I don’t know if Wolfgang is with us. Can you hear us? Okay. So thanks for joining this workshop. We can’t hear you. Maybe you are muted.

>> WOLFGANG KLEINWACHTER: Can you hear me now?

>> MODERATOR: Now we can hear you.

>> WOLFGANG KLEINWACHTER: Okay. So I want to echo what Anriette has said, that the Declaration on the Future of the Internet has a great intention. So it is basically a good document. But in my eyes it’s not a masterpiece if it comes to the procedures and also to the process of implementation.

So I think the strength of the document is that it reiterates the basic principles. So I wrote an Article about how to save the past and the Future of the Internet. So at the beginning of the Internet, we had all this noble principles which are now let’s say reworded in the Declaration, openness, inclusiveness and unfragmented Internet, Human Rights based and freedom and all this. I think this is not new. But important to repeat it again and again and again like the Human Rights is say reiterated today in documents. So there are no new Human Rights. So we still support the Human Rights laid down in the Human Rights Declaration from 1948.

And insofar to reiterate the principles of the Internet, all this openness, inclusivity, accountability, transparency and so on. I think this is really important. And it is a good part. But this all new developments in technologies, sometimes when we forget the framework in which all this is based. And so for it is the right time. We had the Tunis Agenda. We had the NETmundial Declaration which was also mentioned by Anriette and Titi. And now we have this Declaration. This means this is a good thing.

What are the weak points in my eyes? So there are three weak points. The first, first thing is how the Declaration was made. It is a contradiction in itself if the Declaration supports the multi-stakeholder approach. And then the stakeholders, the nonstate actors are more or less excluded from the making of the Declaration. So there was no really public consultations. There was no bottom-up development of text as we did see it in the NETmundial South Paolo Declaration.

Insofar the risk is that a lot of stakeholders and other groups do not take this very seriously. So this undermines the strength of the Declaration if you just formulate it, you know, from a Government perspective and say yeah, multi-stakeholder approach is good. And we support these principles.

So this is the first weak point. The second weak point it is a Declaration. But what to do with this Declaration. It is on paper. There is no process added how to implement, to review or to reconsider the principles. So what I expect and hope is that there will be a process in place sooner or later, where No. 1, other stakeholders can join and sign it. So we have this with the Paris call for trust and security in cyberspace, where more than 1,000 stakeholders have signed the document which originally had all the no more than 60 signatures. But there is no procedure in the document, you know, how nonstate actors and other Governments can sign or support the document. And there is no process in place where you can from time to time have review conferences or reports, you know, how the Declaration is implemented on the national, regional or on the global level.

So that’s the second weak point. And the third weak point is it is a little bit disconnected from other global processes which are taking place.

So it was already mentioned that the United Nations has started the process already years ago with the High-Level Panel and then the road plan with the common agenda. And now we are discussing the Global Digital Compact. And we are moving towards WSIS+20. All those processes are mentioned in the final paragraph of the Declaration. You don’t know how this is interlinked and whether this will be done in parallel or as an alternative or in competition. So this is a little bit confusing. This is also unclear, you know, how this will be related to the activities of the Freedom Online Coalition. The Freedom Online Coalition which was established already more than ten years ago has Human Rights on its agenda and on the Declaration of the Future of the Internet. This will duplicate the efforts.

The Declaration on the Future of the Internet can contribute to the implementation of the joint statements which were published by the Freedom Online Coalition in previous years. The presidency of the Freedom Online Coalition this year is with Canada. So we have seen every year a huge conference, like last year the Helsinki conference. For me it is unclear how this comes together and will contribute to a mainstream, which is the first implementation of the Tunis Agenda for a people-centered Information Society with free, open, interoperable, et cetera, Internet.

So mixed feelings. So very good intentions. But not well made. Back to you, Titi.

>> MODERATOR: Thanks a lot. The Declaration of the Future will be more interlinked to the other initiatives and it could need more stakeholders. Now I give the floor to Jorge Cancio. I hope you can hear me. Okay. Jorge, so I hope you can share the best practices of the country of the Swiss government that didn’t sign the Declaration yet. The floor is yours.

>> JORGE CANCIO: Okay. I hope you hear me okay.

>> MODERATOR: Yes. Fine.

>> JORGE CANCIO: Okay. That’s great. So thanks very much for inviting me. And as you rightly said, it is a country, Switzerland, that has not signed yet. So the question is perhaps why, not yet. And might it be in the future. Perhaps I can start with some comments or some reflections.

First of all, we are very much aligned with the international position of the European Union. But, of course, Switzerland is not part of the European Union. So that may also explain this small disconnect. At the same time, you know, Switzerland is a small but a very hyper-connected country which depends very much on global rules and architectures and has a strong tradition of bottom-up decision making. Perhaps it is also helpful to – for understanding where we are coming from if we shed some light on some of the main features of our traditional – of our political tradition, which are relevant here.

First is our Consensus and Democratic decision-making process. It is often referred as a Consensus Democracy due to a system where we try to have everyone onboard, all stakeholders are involved and are consulted in the shaping of any decisions and their views are taken in to account seriously and diligently. Because otherwise, anyone can promote a referendum and strike down a law.

So that’s a very important part of it. A second one is that we believe in federalism and subsidiarism. This also means that power is shared between different levels of government. And third, perhaps as an overall goal is to produce solutions that are balanced, inclusive and acceptable to all involved. Many always with the spirit of seeking shared solutions, compromised solutions, acceptable solutions, as Anriette has hinted at a little bit. And this leads to a healthy sense of ownership for all that have been involved which also facilitates the effective implementation of a policy or a law or a decision once it has gone through that lengthy and difficult process.

Finally, another part of our tradition is, of course, that we host the main European offices of the United Nations. So we have a very strong link with the United Nations as the universal, as the international and global place to discuss and to take decisions on international issues.

So dear colleagues, dear audience, with such traditions in mind, it may come as no surprise to you that we have been strong supporters, also financially of the WSIS process, the IGF, the EuroDIG and many other multi-stakeholder and multilateral processes.

We also have been strong supporters of the High-Level Panel, and its report the age of digital interdependence because we thought that this is an important step to anchor the multi-stakeholder approach within the United Nations. And to develop the IGF in to an IGF+ which is more effective and has a higher political profile and visibility.

We are also contributing to the Global Digital Compact as the opportunity to put this architecture to work. And we helped or we tried to contribute that the IGF aligned its 2022 programme to the main elements envisioned for the Global Digital Compact.

So if we look at the substance of what is in the Declaration for the Future of the Internet, there’s a lot of interest from our side. Because we are already, I think, we can stay staunch supporters of an open, a free, secure and single and interoperable and trustworthy Internet. We try to contribute to those goals. Everyone firmly anchored in Human Rights and Democratic principles. We are aligned with the content of the Declaration. So we are following it with a lot of interest and attention. At the same time as I explained before, we attach great importance to the principles of inclusivity, universality and multi-stakeholderism.

And almost the only thing we have as a small country is the value of what we say if we walk the talk. Because we don’t have the power to (inaudible) others. We are steadfast supporters of the IGF and similar efforts like the EuroDIG to develop digital cooperation in this age of digital interdependence. We think therefore that a broad support from a large number of countries in the sense that Anriette mentioned before from all regions of the world, including the Global South and a strong buy-in and ownership from the multi-stakeholder community are essential for the success of any initiative.

An important element could be a follow-up of the framework of the UN IGF. And the idea that Anriette floated of having a Declaration as an input for the Global Digital Compact is surely worthwhile considering. So I leave it by that. And I hope this has shed some light on our current position. Thank you.

>> MODERATOR: Thanks a lot for your reflection, your thoughts. That’s really, really important for the discussion. So we have just ten minutes left. I give the floor to Riccardo Villa from the Italian Government. He is the head of policy security at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. If you can hear us, you can –

>> RICCARDO VILLA: Yes, I can.

>> MODERATOR: Thanks a lot for joining this session. So if you can just share the main initiatives that the Italian Government has launched to support and promote the Declaration principles.

>> RICCARDO VILLA: Thank you for the question. And really not very happy about not being in Trieste today, not only for the room but for the beauty of the city. Thank you for organizing this session on the DFI.

Italy has unlike the previous speaker subscribed to the Declaration. And we also thank obviously the Commission for having brought forward around this Declaration. We find obviously that all the principles contained that are in line with our national, national positions. And I had previously prepared an intervention which I’m actually going to disregard completely, if you allow me also to react to some of the speakers who came before.

So Italy is a strong supporter of multilateralism, multilateral assistance. We are also very much attached to the multi-stakeholder approach that we try and replicate within our national decisions in different sectors. So as far as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is concerned and that’s where I come from, we have been actively working to ensure that Italy is not only represented, but provides an active contribution to all the multilateral fora where it belongs and participates to as well as the initiatives that we deem worthwhile. And which have the possibility of influencing the global decision-making processes.

So I think the Freedom of Online Coalition was mentioned as one of them as we have become part of it only last year. So ten years after, but we’re now part of the Freedom of Online Coalition and are participating actively in some of these Working Groups. And we’re also actively contributing to the open-ended Working Group on cybersecurity within the UN first Committee. Why am I saying this?

It is because many of the points and issues which are dealt with in the DFI are actually already part of ongoing processes in different organizations and in different formats and that’s not to duplicate any of this work. That’s to ensure that we coalesce around the principles of the DFI. And then, you know, as according to means, at least as far as states are concerned, we can carry out the work in different processes according to the principles of the DFI. I sympathize very much with the intervention from Anriette who has gathered support from many others. You might be aware in the OEWG process that I mentioned earlier on there is an initiative which is called the Programme of Action on Cyber which is being proposed. It is being cosigned by 60 states now. And is – the gist of this Programme of Action is to ensure that the work on cybersecurity and this is only one of the many things which are mentioned in the DFI becomes sustainable over time.

And we have proceeded precisely in the way that Anriette was describing as far as working method is concerned. I left the initiative, the counters of the initiatives as open as possible. And we have approached several states not only in the UN context but also in bilateral instances and different regional groupings in order to gather their thoughts on the initiative and build it together with them.

This is a process which takes a lot of time, a lot of effort, but we firmly believe that this is a way in which we can – we should proceed in order to ensure that a working platform that is stable and is not subject to continuous Resolutions, like, for example, the OEWG which is not processed, which will have to be objective Resolutions again in order to be continued. You are all aware of the geopolitics at the moment which are not very conducive for these kinds of discussions.

I wanted to add an element to these discussions that I haven’t heard today, and that is the sense of urgency that there is in order not only to reaffirm the principles that we all agree to, and again I refer to the previous speaker who does not have a problem with the content of the Declaration, but also like Anriette said there was maybe a problem with a way in which was done, which was a rushed or at least perceived as rush manner.

So why am I saying this? A sense of urgency is that you are aware in different fora, I can mention the ITU and the OEWG, but these principles are subject to constant attacks. Let me use this word which is a bit strong. But there seems to be a pattern to weaken these principles and weaken the way in which these are applied. Without naming names I think you are all aware what we are referring to. So we are also in the business of defending what we have at the moment.

So not only promoting and opening up and sharing, but we also need to defend at the same time. So it is not always easy. You will have seen that on the Internet there is malicious behavior which is increasing. We have, you know, our service is working, whether it is also in the Defense Ministry, in the Ministry of Interior, that it is ongoing work on a daily basis, which keeps us all very, very busy.

I also wanted to maybe leave you with one last thought. And this is related to Esteve’s point. We are looking forward to hearing about the High-Level Political Conference later this year and how we can contribute to that. But he also said something very important which is raising the awareness and the implementation of the DFI. Raising the awareness is extremely important and events like today’s EuroDIG’s work is extremely valuable in that sense. But there is also the necessity of digging a little bit deeper within the constituencies of each Member State.

In order to develop this awareness and also develop the skills of the people who will be then contributing to defending these principles and implementing the DFI.

The issue of the skills is extremely important. Again not to insist on the cyber domain, but we have just approved a new national strategy in Italy. Cybersecurity strategy has an implementation plan attached to that. And there are several of these actions which are related to education and the awareness.

So it is just a small snapshot. I hope that the main points kind of ring about with our discussions today. I’m happy to come back with more.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you for your thoughts and to defend our position and also to these processes.

So now IGF, the floor to the last intervention from the UK Government, Nigel Hickson. We know that the UK with other countries worked with the U.S. in developing the DFI. And also securing all the countries to sign this Declaration. We want to ask you, Nigel, what are the main reasons why the UK has been an advocate of the Declaration? So Nigel, the floor is yours.

>> NIGEL HICKSON: Good afternoon. Can I speak from here? Can people hear me?


>> NIGEL HICKSON: It is amazing. Thank you so much for this opportunity. And thank you for organizing this session. I’m sorry I got here late. I was just sitting in the main room. And didn’t realize I was in the wrong room which happens in life. It happens to me increasingly, which is worrying. But I do apologize for missing the European Commission’s intervention. But I will listen to it. Why did the UK sign up for the Declaration of the Future of the Internet? The UK likes to sign things in general. It is nice to be part of a club. We don’t like to be excluded.

So, you know, it was good to sign up to the Declaration. But in all seriousness I think the Declaration came at the right time in terms of our evolving, in terms of the evolution, of our thinking in the UK about the Future of the Internet, about the future of the multi-stakeholder process, if you like. As we heard those of us that were in the previous session, we had an excellent discussion on that. And that identified, if you like, one of the reasons for signing the Declaration of the Future of the Internet was our concern or is our concern about the future of the Internet Governance. And I think that session emphasized that we are in stormy waters. We are not in calm seas. We don’t have that picture of the boats floating on the ocean. We are not setting our sails in the right way for the future. So we have got issues as a multi-stakeholder community, like as a global community.

And so for us, signing on to the Declaration of the future, Future of the Internet was clearly to do with as I say our thinking that needed to put something, we needed to draw a line in the sand. We needed to put a marker down. We needed to put our head above the parapet. Not all is right. We want to commit to these principles. We hope that other people will commit to these principles. And in doing so, to counter the rhetoric that we see from some other countries. The new IP proposals which will grow in nature. Some of them would have directly contradicted our view and the view of many other countries in signing up to this Declaration, that we ought to have an open Internet. We ought to have a global Internet. We have a Internet that’s governed through multi-stakeholder processes. Would replace what we have in the moment by a topdown system where Governments can exert their authority.

So we see those proposals. We also see statements by Russia and nothing wrong with countries being clear about what they want in life. Russia clearly is – it has made statements before the invasion of Ukraine and consequences of that. But before that they said that they would use their presidency, that’s their word. That would use their position as Secretary-General of the ITU if they got elected as Secretary-General of the ITU to enhance the ITU’s role in the governance of the Internet. To replace the work of the ICANN and other technical bodies that currently govern the Internet under the auspices of what we have on the Tunis Agenda and push for governance, topdown governance control of the Internet. It is a view of the country.

So I think, you know, the Declaration for the Future of the Internet and in particular the way it commits members to protect and strengthen the multi-stakeholder system of the Internet Governance, including the development and other related standards and protocols. So I think that’s very important indeed for us, reaffirmation, if you like, of these principles of a multi-stakeholder approach. So we’re very pleased that the Declaration has been signed up to by diversity of countries. Clearly it is not perfect. It is not perfect. It hasn’t been signed up to by 100 countries or whatever. But, you know, 60 or so countries it is work in progress.

And I think that in itself is important, that Declaration by those countries. Because once you have made a political Declaration like the Declaration of the Future of the Internet, boy, you are going to be kept to it.


>> NIGEL HICKSON: You are? Anriette raises a good point, are you. I will have no hesitation – my English is bad. I will have no hesitation at standing up at the ITU or standing up in the UN or the – but I would have no hesitation at all in saying to a country that has signed up to the Declaration of the Future of the Internet why are you voting in this particular way or why are you supporting a proposal that is directly contrary to these principles. So I think it is important, that if you sign up as Government to something, that you adhere to that process. And if you don’t adhere, you should be called in to account. So that’s – I’m not going to go on long. I think I have two other points I wanted to make.

First of all, I mean I, of course – we in the UK, of course, recognize that the process, processes are perfect and Wolfgang and Anriette have referred to these points. And we no doubt have had the time to debate these points worldwide and in this room. People’s input, not Government’s input, but the wider stakeholder community input in to this process is so important. Yes, this was a political Declaration by Governments that was opened up to the stakeholders. As Wolfgang has correctly said, that is not the way that perhaps should be done in the truly multi-stakeholder way. It wasn’t the way of NETmundial, when we were all in the room together.

But it was a political commitment. It is open for improvement. It is open for adjustment. It is open in terms of the signing up to it. And it is great to hear that it is going to be a sort of further discussion and a further process where stakeholders can come together and discuss this on some sort of compromise later in the year. I will stop there. And welcome the discussion. And welcome the fact that we had the opportunity in this session. Thank you.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you. I don’t know if there is any questions from the chat that you want to show. Okay. So then we are – we have reached the close of the session. So I give the floor to you for the wrap-up and the conclusion of this session. Thanks.

>> Thanks. We are out of time, but I will try to be short. Okay. So to summarize in just one sentence, it seems that for most of us here, the substance is okay but the process is not. But this needs to be elaborated. The process has been having problems in the preparations for many. And, of course, countries are outside, but perhaps more people, more countries are going to sign it.

The good news is that in this discussion things came up that indicated something will be done to those problems and weak points that were identified. Nothing can we do to the process that has took place because it is in the past. But it was good news from Esteve that a high level conference will be called to prepare for the implementation and follow-up.

I didn’t quite get it, was it the intention was to have it in this year, right?


>> This was good news for all of us.

There was – trying to get more signatories. This is the common – sorry. This is the common aim for everyone who is involved.

Anriette, of course, pointed out that many countries are there among the subscribers and also reminded us about NETmundial. And that’s clearly something worth remembering because what was NETmundial Declaration and all that history is a very useful background to what we do. Actually listening to that I thought it was – somebody said that people who don’t know the history, I think the reverse countries, countries don’t know the history. Read through that again. We have a lot of history. Of course, we have people like Wolfgang who get – who can recite it from the very beginning. But I think that we should perhaps take a look at all the documents and see if there is something that we could actually start implementing instead of trying to – start every time from the scratch.

Yes, here we come to Wolfgang, to this – to problems of process. He mentioned three weak points, how it came about. It is just the Declaration. No implementation. And here, of course, there was this good news from youth that will be implementation on a high level. And last but not least, his third point it is disconnected from other processes. And thinking of that, I mean there are so many processes now that nobody can clearly remember them anymore. FOI and also all the processes the United Nations that were referred to by our participants. And so many others.

So that perhaps there will be some coordination from these now. What Wolfgang also pointed out, again this history. Tunis Agenda, NETmundial Declaration, it is good to think of these things as processes, as very much done. Jorge from Switzerland, Switzerland has not signed this Declaration. And he came with many reasons why this – the way this Declaration was against the political principles that are valued.

But he and so many others actually say that substance is more or less okay. Just how it happened. How it came about. There were problems. And Riccardo Villa from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Italy, he mentioned to this open Working Group and others, but I think that he was almost – what was important was that he said we are defending something. We are not only opening up and being nice to everyone. But we are defending what we have. There are clear dangers and attacks against the Internet that we know and we like. We want to continue.

So Nigel, pretty much the same thing. Talking – you said we have to draw a line in the sand. We have to put a marker down. We have to indicate what are our – you didn’t say, but I would say nonnegotiable principles. And – so this is – there is an interesting dynamic here because on one hand putting, drawing a line in the sand, putting down a marker which indicates others perhaps want to keep out. The other – on the other side we have this thing that we should be all inclusive. Perhaps as Anriette said, perhaps not to try to include so much substance, detailed substance, to actually help a few principles and get a wider, wider buy-in.

So thank you.

>> MODERATOR: Thanks a lot. Thanks a lot to you all for this great discussion. Thanks for joining this workshop. And I hope you will have a good participation to EuroDIG for the next session today. So thank you.

(Session concluded)