Opening Statement by Mr. Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs to the Stocktaking Session of the Internet Governance Forum
Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, 18 November 2009

We are gathered here today to discuss the future of the Internet Governance Forum.

As you are all aware, Heads of State and Government in Tunis in 2005 gave the IGF a provisional lifespan of five years. The Tunis Agenda specifically called on the Secretary-General “to examine the desirability of the continuation of the Forum, in formal consultation with Forum participants, within five years of its creation, and to make recommendations to the UN membership in this regard”.

In the last few days, we have heard some clear views on the issue of an extension of the mandate of IGF, starting with the Prime Minister of Egypt. But let us be open and honest and recognize that not all positions and views are so easily expressed nor so quickly understood.

Today’s consultation will be a formal one focusing only on the examination of the desirability of the continuation of the Forum, as called for by the mandate indicated in the Tunis Agenda for the Information Society in paragraphs 72, 73 and 77. We will have a series of speakers, representing various stakeholder groups, who have asked in advance for a speaking slot.

This meeting has been prepared through a consultative process, both in physical meetings in Geneva and here in Sharm El Sheikh, as well as through an online process. The result of the online process has been reflected in a synthesis document prepared by the IGF secretariat. This document has been translated into all six UN languages and can serve as input to our discussions.

In my opening address, I encouraged you again to discuss further through my three questions and to participate fully in today’s meeting and to share your views. In the past few days I consulted widely and I now have a better understanding of the positions of some of the stakeholders in attendance.

However, it is today’s discussion that matters most in this formal consultation and I can only repeat what I said on the opening day:

If you believe the Forum is valuable, I would encourage you to say so – and tell us in what ways.

If you believe it can be improved, I would encourage you to say that too – and tell us how.

If you believe that the IGF has fulfilled its purpose, I would encourage you to speak out against an extension of the mandate – and tell us why.

Later I will report to the Secretary-General. He will then make recommendations in his report to the General Assembly next year, taking the opinions expressed in these consultations into account.

I am sorry not everyone who asked for a speaking slot can be accommodated today, and appreciate your understanding, but we are limited to three hours. All written statements sent to the IGF secretariat by the end of today will be included in the formal consultation.

Speakers today should speak for a maximum of three minutes. I would appreciate it if you take less than three minutes.

The session is split in two parts, from 11:30 to 13:00 and, starting again after lunch, from 14:30 to 16:00.

Originally I planned to ask Mr. Markus Kummer to introduce the synthesis document. However, we will forego this introduction, as this document has been made available online. As the Secretariat, we should lead by example in order to give more time to you. In return, I hope that you will respect the time limit as well.

Without further delay, I now open the floor.