RIPE NCC Responds to UN CSTD Questionnaire on Enhanced Cooperation
As part of its work, this multi-stakeholder working group (which includes representatives of the Internet technical community) issued a public questionnaire.
The RIPE NCC has submitted a response to this questionnaire, reflecting our many efforts to build productive relationships across traditional stakeholder divisions, in the spirit of enhanced cooperation. Over the past decade, these efforts have seen a massive increase in communication and cooperation between RIPE NCC and its community and public sector stakeholders (governments and international organisations) in our service region.
The deadline for submission was 31 August, however we would be very pleased to further discuss the responses below on the RIPE Cooperation Working Group mailing list.
Questionnaire of the Working Group on Enhanced Cooperation
1. Which stakeholder category do you belong to?
- Technical and academic community
- ECOSOC accredited
2. What do you think is the significance, purpose and scope of enhanced cooperation as per the Tunis Agenda? a) Significance b) Purpose c) Scope
a) "Enhanced cooperation", as identified by the Tunis Agenda, recognises the need for new models of cooperation and policy-making to support the growth and development of the Internet.
b) Its purpose is the facilitation of policy-making that serves the interests of all Internet stakeholders, respecting the rights of all users, the roles and responsibilities of the different stakeholder groups and the technical constraints of the technology itself.
c) The scope of enhanced cooperation then, should not be limited, but rather allowed to evolve as the Internet itself evolves, to meet the changing needs, interests and roles of different stakeholder groups.
3. To what extent has or has not enhanced cooperation been implemented? Please use the space below to explain and to provide examples to support your answer.
The Tunis Agenda's call for enhanced cooperation marked a major turning point in how Internet stakeholders interact. For the RIPE NCC, this has included many specific developments and changes to how our organisation and its community interact with peers in other stakeholder groups, including government. Some examples of this include:
- RIPE Cooperation Working Group (to discuss public policy-related issues in the open RIPE community context)
- RIPE NCC Roundtable Meetings (to inform public sector stakeholders on issues relevant to the RIPE NCC's areas of authority)
- RIPE NCC participation in inter-governmental organisations, including the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU)
- Active engagement with and support for multi-stakeholder Internet governance events, including the global Internet Governance Forum, the Arab IGF, EuroDIG and various national forums
- Cooperative capacity-building initiatives with law enforcement agencies throughout the RIPE NCC service region (Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia)
At the same time, we would like to highlight and commend the willingness that we have seen from many in government, law enforcement, business and civil society to engage with the open RIPE community processes. This reciprocity is a fundamental characteristic of enhanced cooperation, and essential to its efficacy.
4. What are the relevant international public policy issues pertaining to the Internet?
As the Internet has penetrated ever further into the lives of billions, the range of public policy questions that it raises has grown dramatically. Enhanced cooperation can be seen as a strategy to scale policy-making efforts to address this rapidly expanding range of issues.
From the perspective of a Regional Internet Registry, the most pressing public policy issues relate to:
- Understanding the impact of different regulatory approaches on the Internet's underlying architecture and administration
- Ensuring equal opportunity for all stakeholders to participate in and contribute to the bottom-up development of policies relating to Internet governance
- Addressing the legitimate security concerns of all Internet stakeholders while maintaining the open and interoperable nature of the Internet itself
- Developing and improving public-private sector cooperation to ensure the continued growth and stability of the Internet
5. What are the roles and responsibilities of the different stakeholders, including governments, in implementation of the various aspects of enhanced cooperation?
Enhanced cooperation can be seen as an attempt to ensure that policy development is not done in a vacuum – that a policy that meets the needs of one stakeholder group has also taken into account the perspective of other stakeholder groups. This reflects the unavoidably inter-connected nature of all Internet-related policy-making and implies a common responsibility on all stakeholders to actively engage across traditional stakeholder divisions.
This responsibility clearly applies to the public sector, just as it does to the Internet technical community and other stakeholder groups. We would like to highlight some of the public sector groups that have been particularly open to substantive engagement with the RIPE NCC and RIPE community, specifically:
- The Organisations for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
- The European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT) ITU Working Group (Com-ITU)
- The European Commission
Many governments and national regulators in the RIPE NCC service region have also been proactively engaging the Internet technical community on issues of common relevance.
The RIPE NCC has appreciated the opportunity to work with these governments and organisations to establish new formats for cooperation and more effective exchange of information between different sectors of the Internet community.
6. How should enhanced cooperation be implemented to enable governments, on an equal footing, to carry out their roles and responsibilities in international public policy issues pertaining to the Internet?
Paragraph 69 of the Tunis Agenda lays out the rationale for enhanced cooperation – "to enable governments, on an equal footing, to carry out their roles and responsibilities, in international public policy issues pertaining to the Internet, but not in the day-to-day technical and operational matters, that do not impact on international public policy issues."
Defining the roles of different policy-making bodies – a constant process that is facilitated by enhanced cooperation - is vital to ensuring that governments, acting in their legitimate public policy-making role, do not duplicate or ignore the community-driven, bottom-up policy-making mechanisms that have effectively facilitated the development of today's Internet.
At the same time, enhanced cooperation is a means to ensure that in those areas where government is the appropriate policy-making organ, such policy-making draws on the knowledge and expertise of other stakeholders to minimize conflict between different policy layers.
7. How can enhanced cooperation enable other stakeholders to carry out their roles and responsibilities?
Strategies that aim to embody enhanced cooperation - opening and maintaining channels of communication, facilitating cooperative initiatives, establishing or evolving forums – benefit all parties involved by helping to reduce the potential for conflicting or poorly thought out policy and by further establishing the legitimacy of stakeholder groups in their respective and appropriate roles.
8. What are the most appropriate mechanisms to fully implement enhanced cooperation as recognized in the Tunis Agenda, including on international public policy issues pertaining to the Internet and public policy issues associated with coordination and management of critical Internet resources?
The IGF has, over the last eight years, proved itself an important addition to the existing ecosystem of policy-making bodies and structures. At the same time, it has provided an example that has been followed at regional and national levels. This network of open, multi-stakeholder, non-decision-making bodies (including events, mailing lists, websites and other forums) should be seen as the key element in achieving the goals of enhanced cooperation. By providing new opportunities for stakeholders to interact and learn about each other's concerns and perspectives, IGF events serve as incubators for the range of new governance models demanded by enhanced cooperation.
9. What is the possible relationship between enhanced cooperation and the IGF?
As noted in our response to the previous question, the RIPE NCC sees the IGF as the key organ for furthering enhanced cooperation. While subject to ongoing improvements and evolution, the IGF is defined by its status as a non-decision making, information-sharing body. Its importance stems from the opportunities it provides for all Internet stakeholders to come together to discuss governance issues and attempt to find common ground and understanding.
We understand enhanced cooperation to include the broad range of models and strategies that exist (and that are yet to emerge) for better reflecting the multi-stakeholder nature of the Internet in policy-making, thereby fostering the creation of better policy. The IGF and its national and regional counterparts facilitate the development of these models and strategies through workshops, main room discussions, dynamic coalitions and corridor discussions. Given the urgent need to address the many policy challenges presented by the Internet's rapid growth, the IGF is important both as a venue to develop new policy-development approaches, but also to share and adapt those approaches for application in an expanding range of scenarios.
10. How can the role of developing countries be made more effective in global Internet governance?
The voice of developing countries in Internet governance is clearly linked to increased levels of participation from developing country stakeholders. This presents numerous logistical, geographic and economic challenges, but the experience of the RIR communities offers some useful approaches to consider.
Recognising that any global structure is limited in its ability to engage all stakeholders, priority needs to be placed on fostering the bottom-up development of regional and national structures that can focus the specific concerns of stakeholders in those areas.
At the same time, limited resources may prevent developing country stakeholders from engaging with the full range of governance-related organisations, instead focusing on one specific forum. Facilitating inter-organisational dialogue and feedback is key to ensuring that concerns raised in one organisational context are not ignored by policy-makers working in other organisations. The RIPE NCC's engagement in ITU discussions has been driven, to some extent, by this principle.
11. What barriers remain for all stakeholders to fully participate in their respective roles in global Internet governance? How can these barriers best be overcome?
Barriers remain in terms of willingness and ability of all stakeholders to fully engage across traditional stakeholder divisions. In terms of willingness to engage, it is vital the Internet community communicates the benefits of multi-stakeholder cooperation and provides specific examples of models or initiatives that illustrate the effectiveness of enhanced cooperation.
In terms of ability to engage, our response to the previous question considered some of the challenges for developing country stakeholders and possible remedies. Enhanced cooperation emphasises the importance of all stakeholders having the opportunity to engage in Internet governance processes, and all stakeholders have a responsibility to make this ideal a reality.
The RIPE NCC, like many of our industry partners, has responded to this challenge with programmes to fund attendance and participation at regional and global IGF events, by providing high-quality remote participation options for all our public events, and by staging regular sub-regional events around our service region.
12. What actions are needed to promote effective participation of all marginalised people in the global information society?
No single strategy will address all of the challenges that still prevent many people from fully participating in Internet governance processes. Rather, an evolving collection of strategies will be necessary, including improved remote participation facilities, funding for travel by stakeholder group representatives, coordinated community awareness-raising activities, and broad organisational structures (like the ecosystem of IGF events) that facilitate the injection of specific issues and perspectives into Internet governance debates.
13. How can enhanced cooperation address key issues toward global, social and economic development?
Enhanced cooperation offers the means to identify and more effectively address (through multi-stakeholder participation) the challenges facing Internet stakeholders in the developing world. By adopting strategies that bring stakeholders from different sectors and regions together, best practices can be more easily identified and solutions identified or adapted.
14. What is the role of various stakeholders in promoting the development of local language content?
15. What are the international internet-related public policy issues that are of special relevance to developing countries?
The issues raised by IP address management, including limited access to IPv4 address space and the need to deploy IPv6, will potentially have a significant impact on developing countries. As noted by the RIPE NCC and its fellow RIRs in many contexts, including the recent ITU WTPF-13, meeting these challenges will involve a range of coordinated policy solutions, including technical and public policies.
The RIPE NCC is involved in a range of capacity-building activities bringing together public and private sector stakeholders that will help ensure that Internet industries in developing countries are not held back by a lack of IPv6 knowledge and expertise.
By working in forums like the ITU and the OECD, the RIPE NCC and its industry partners are educating government stakeholders on the policy measures already being developed and implemented through open, bottom-up policy development processes in response to the challenges posed by IPv4 exhaustion, an emerging IPv4 address market and IPv6 deployment.
16. What are the key issues to be addressed to promote the affordability of the Internet, in particular in developing countries and least developed countries?
17. What are the national capacities to be developed and modalities to be considered for national governments to develop Internet-related public policy with participation of all stakeholders?
Public sector engagement with and support for national and regional IGF events is an important first step for governments in developing effective Internet-related public policy. Such events provide the chance for all stakeholders affected by national public policy to meet and share perspectives and concerns.
It is important, however, that the IGF event serve as the starting point in the development and implementation of forums, structures and mechanisms that can more directly refine and develop public policy. Many national Internet communities have already had great success with such models, including multi-stakeholder task forces and advisory groups.
18. Are there other comments, or areas of concern, on enhanced cooperation you would like to submit?
The RIPE NCC welcomes this opportunity to re-examine the concept of enhanced cooperation, which has been the focus of much attention over the last decade. We believe that the concept has inspired many stakeholders to develop innovative models and strategies in aid of better policy-making, and we believe that these achievements should be recognised.
The goals of enhanced cooperation are best met through the active engagement of all stakeholders, working without constraints to identify and implement effective new means of cooperation. As noted in our response to question 2, this requires a concept of enhanced cooperation whose scope is very broad, allowing for experimentation and innovation.
It also suggests that the focus of the international Internet community should be on facilitating the participation of as broad a representation of Internet stakeholders as possible. The RIPE NCC looks forward to contributing to the ongoing discussion on how this might best be achieved.