Carolina Aguerre, CETYS-UDESA and Fátima Cambronero, civil society representative at LACIGF and MAG discuss takeaways from the 7th Latin American and Caribbean IGF (LACIGF).
The regional Latin American and Caribbean IGF (LACIGF) which was held in El Salvador last July, innovated on several fronts which are worth considering for research on internet policy formation in Latin America (see blogpost 21 August).
One innovation from the 7th LACIGF was a session that addressed national internet governance initiatives. While the global IGF has incorporated this issue as a stable component of its program in the past three editions, the LACIGF committee decided that, this year, the topic deserved its own space in a regional meeting, given the context for internet issue varies from nation to nation. This panel session shared the experiences of CAPI in Argentina, the Mexican Dialogues on Internet Governance, initiatives in Colombia and the trajectory of Brazil (where the CGI has already organized four national IGFs). Carlos Afonso from NUPEF and CGI civil society representatives stressed that their experience in Brazil is not for export and that each national community should search for its own mechanisms suitable for its particular needs. The Colombian case is beginning to take shape as an open, multistakeholder and informal space for regular meetings. It has in common with Brazil an idea of process and consolidation, although the two conferences are in very different stages of institutional maturity.
A second takeaway from the LACIGF was a group-work session that analyzed the NETmundial multistakeholder statement and its effects from a regional prism. There was high adherence to this document’s principles. In particular, there was a strong emphasis on freedom of expression; development; understanding and implementing the concept of “meaningful participation;” and human rights in the online sphere. This reflects the interests of the civil society agenda, which has been historically the most important stakeholder group at this forum. Additionally, Frank La Rue, UN rapporteur for Human Rights, participated in the LACIGF for the second year and brought the human rights dimension to the forefront of the discussion.
The analysis of the NETmundial statement helped produce a document for the development of future regional work on internet governance, based on group discussions and analysis of this work. This report will serve to frame the next edition of the LACIGF as well as providing a roadmap for to address these issues by the eLAC Internet Governance Working Group. The Working Group and the LACIGF secretariat are addressing two strategies in order to generate greater synergies between both processes. The first is of multi-lateral origins and is framed as an agenda setting and monitoring group, while the second is a bottom-up forum for discussion and debate. These strategies are complementary and would be beneficial for the enhancement of both initiatives.
One of the most salient features of the LACIGF was the increased involvement of governments in the event. Whereas in past editions there were only two delegations involved in the multistakeholder program committee, in this occasion there were four national delegations that participated directly as members of the program committee for the LACIGF (Mexico, Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina). Additionally, representatives from Costa Rica, Colombia and El Salvador attended LACIGF, meaning that seven governments from the region participated directly, a significant increase with respect to previous meetings.
Unfortunately, the national and regional IGF sessions at the 9th IGF in Istanbul (September 2014) ran out of time before they could discuss the outcomes of the LACIGF. As we have attempted to document in this brief article, the regional experience in 2014 has been affected by NETmundial, both in terms of the relevance of these topics in different stakeholders’ agendas, as well as in the increasing volume of such processes. For this reason, greater synergies between regional dynamics—such as the LACIGF and the eLAC working group on IG—are expected to occur next year.