The sixth Internet Governance Forum (IGF) came to a close on Friday evening after a successful five days of sessions at the United Nations Offices in Nairobi (UNON), Kenya. The IGF has been touted as the largest attracting over 2,000 participants in Nairobi and another 300 remote participants from across the world.
The IGF is held annually and brings together Internet stakeholders and policy-makers in an effort to share and exchange ideas. The IGF does not pass any recommendations as it is not a decision making body.
However, there was a call at the closing session for the IGF to pass non-binding recommendations in future sessions . Laurent Elder, Program Leader, Information Networks at the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) says he understands that parts of the strengths of the IGF is "to not have principles and recommendations to encourage open dialog." However , he adds, " I have been struck that a lot of people both in and out of the IGF have been concerned that there has been no clear outcome. It would be suitable and useful to have non-binding recommendations"
Elder says that such recommendations can be done online such as through the use of social media as a preparatory towards the IGF. "A lot of governments who have difficulties with what are policies to adopt could be informed by those recommendations, " he adds. Also backing him up was Alice Munyua, Chairperson of the Kenya IGF committee and an organiser of the sixth IGF.
Dr Vint Cerf, Chief Internet Evangelist at Google and one of the fathers of the Internet however disagrees. " I am a little uncomfortable with any attempt to produce a consensus document, not because they are bad, but the time it takes away from rich exploration of issues."
"I would be interested in documenting observations that come form various multi-stakeholders. If we do not instill a consensus, we can still do something useful . We want policy makers to understand what the issue landscape looks like. If observations coming from meetings can be carefully analysed, we can provide insight to policy-makers," adds Cerf.
The seventh IGF will be held next year in Baku in the republic of Azerbaijan in 2012. Indonesia has submitted its bid to host the eighth IGF in 2013.