Tipping the Scale: An Analysis of Global Swing States in the Internet Governance Debate

Internet Governance Papers No. 7

May 5, 2014

In December 2012, numerous news outlets reported on the debate over Internet governance that took place at the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Dubai. It was the first time in nearly a decade that the topic attracted major international media attention. A key aspect of the post-WCIT discussion has centred on the role of “swing states” in this global debate. So far, most of this work has been based on predefined groups of countries or focused on countries based on anecdotal evidence of a vibrant tech community or existing relationships. The study discussed in this paper applied a more systematic approach. The research revealed some interesting patterns among certain groups of states. A core group of potential swing states — a total of 30 countries — are identified based on their voting behaviour at the WCIT, their various memberships and a range of relevant indicators. This list offers a road map for future in-depth studies. Ideally, it will also serve as a resource for practitioners and academics alike for comparison with current efforts and for future strategic planning that focuses on engaging other actors internationally. 

Part of Series

Internet Governance

The need to develop a coherent strategy for internet governance ensuring that difficult trade-offs between competing interests, as well as between distinct public values, are managed in a consistent, transparent and accountable manner that accurately reflects public priorities guided the members of this research project, launched in 2012. In aiming to develop this strategy, project members considered what kind of internet the world wants in 2020, laying the analytical groundwork for future internet governance discussions, most notably the decennial review of the World Summit on the Information Society. The Internet Governance paper series resulted in the publication of a book in 2014.

About the Authors

Robert Morgus is a research assistant at New America’s Open Technology Institute, where he works on Internet governance, international cyber security and human rights online, specifically sanctions and export controls.