Friday, October 24, 2014

Themes of the ITU meeting in Busan: ICT4D and the multistakeholder model of internet governance

As noted in the prior post, Korea's President Park Geun-hye's welcoming address at the ITU Plenipotentiary strongly underscored the theme of ICT for development and South Korea's willingness to contribute toward efforts to remove the digital divide wherever it exists. In an interview with Yonhap News on October 22, Ambassador Daniel Sepulveda, the United States' chief delegate to the ITU meeting stressed the same goal, saying that "The United States hopes to narrow the digital divide around the world to give people the opportunity to create a future for themselves, even those living under authoritarian rule." With reference to the ITU Plenipotentiary, Sepulveda said that "The main goal of the United States government... is to ensure the ITU and its member states focus on bridging the digital divide."  This is in line with a policy statement made by Ambassador Sepulveda at the WTDC-14 ITU conference in Dubai earlier this year and shown in the accompanying ITU video.
Another major theme inevitably forms part of the backdrop for the ongoing ITU discussions in Busan.  It is the question of the current, evolving multistakeholder model of internet governance versus the position taken by some governments that the ITU itself should play a greater role in such governance.  This issue arose sharply at the December 2012 ITU meeting in Dubai, as noted in an earlier post, and in a recent report by Adam Segal for the Council on Foreign Relations.

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