The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) has issued the first report in a new research paper series that addresses the political and technical challenges surrounding the future of Internet governance.

Reimagining the Internet: The Need for a High-level Strategic Vision for Internet Governance, by CIGI Research Fellow Mark Raymond and Distinguished Fellow Gordon Smith, looks at the complex and highly decentralized world of Internet governance and calls for a high-level strategy consistent with democratic values and human rights. 

The new report is part one of CIGI’s Internet Governance Papers series, which feature commentary by leading experts on pressing issues and the political implications of the most likely Internet governance scenarios in the 2015-2020 timeframe.

“The desire to extend state control over Internet governance is widely shared, even by advanced industrial economies,” say Raymond and Smith. “There are, however, significant differences among states with respect to their preferences over the substantive content of such change.” The authors point out that the recent World Conference on International Telecommunications held in Dubai highlights the “complex fault lines in the international community” with regard to the future of Internet governance.

Raymond and Smith outline the institutions, coalitions and power politics at play in Internet governance, as well as the role of civil society groups and corporate interests pursuing their own agendas. “Network operators, Internet service companies, equipment manufacturers, intellectual property holders, insurers and others all have significant stakes in Internet governance outcomes.”

“Capitalizing on these various opportunities to update and refine global governance of the Internet will require skillful, coordinated diplomacy in a protracted and contentious process of rule-making that has clear implications for human rights, the future course of the global economy and for international security,” say Raymond and Smith. They argue that viewing Internet governance through a “multi-stakeholder” lens — whereby all users, from individuals to institutions, political and non-political, belong to voluntary and involuntary groups with overlapping and vibrant rules and rule-making processes — is the most effective approach to understanding the complex system.

The Internet Governance Papers series, part of CIGI’s global security project “Organized Chaos: Reimagining the Internet,” will be releasing papers in two clusters. The first cluster will focus on near-term governance challenges including technical standards and the governance of cyber security, monitoring and surveillance, civil society hacktivism and the future of intellectual property in a digital age. The second cluster will examine plausible outcomes for Internet governance in the second half of this decade and implications for global governance and the international system as a whole.

To access a free copy of Reimagining the Internet: The Need for a High-level Strategic Vision for Internet Governance, please visit: http://www.cigionline.org/publications/2013/7/reimagining-internet-need-high-level-strategic-vision-internet-governance.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

CIGI Research Fellow Mark Raymond has a B.A. in political science and international relations from the University of Western Ontario and an M.A. and Ph.D. in political science from the University of Toronto. He has taught international relations at the University of Toronto and the University of Waterloo. His research interests include international law and organization, international security and international history, including the history of global governance. At CIGI, Mark contributes to the Global Security Program. Specifically, he is developing CIGI’s work in the area of Internet security and governance.

CIGI Distinguished Fellow Gordon Smith is a former Canadian deputy foreign minister, NATO ambassador and G7/G8 Sherpa. A leading expert on the evolution of the G20 and global summitry, his current work focuses on the convergence of technology and global affairs, as he leads CIGI’s project on the future of Internet governance. Holding a B.A. in political science from McGill University and Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Gordon joined CIGI in 2010. Follow him on Twitter at @GordonSmithG20.

MEDIA CONTACT:

Kevin Dias, Communications Specialist, CIGI
Tel: 519.885.2444, ext. 7238, Email: [email protected]

The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) is an independent, non-partisan think tank on international governance. Led by experienced practitioners and distinguished academics, CIGI supports research, forms networks, advances policy debate and generates ideas for multilateral governance improvements. Conducting an active agenda of research, events and publications, CIGI’s interdisciplinary work includes collaboration with policy, business and academic communities around the world. CIGI was founded in 2001 by Jim Balsillie, then co-CEO of Research In Motion (BlackBerry), and collaborates with and gratefully acknowledges support from a number of strategic partners, in particular the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario. For more information, please visit www.cigionline.org.

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The opinions expressed in this article/multimedia are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of CIGI or its Board of Directors.