Chinese Official Gains Oversight Of UN Internet Governance Forum

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By Monika Ermert for Intellectual Property Watch

The United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) has a new boss. Chinese career diplomat Wu Hongbo was nominated earlier this year by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, UNDESA only recently announced on its website. Taking office as UN Undersecretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs on 1 August, Wu became responsible for the UN Internet Governance Forum (IGF) as UNDESA oversees the work of the UN Committee on Science and Technology and thereby the follow-up activities to the 2003-2005 UN World Summit of the Information Society (WSIS). In the role, Wu follows Sha Zukang, also from China.

According to experts, UNDESA has taken on the proxy for the UN Secretary General who officially convenes the IGF and acted as de-facto supervising agency of the IGF. Many stakeholders of the IGF – which has been said to be not an official UN body and therefore had to seek financing elsewhere – have urged the UN administration for quite some time now to fill the vacant positions of the IGF Executive Secretary and also of the “Special Adviser to the UN Secretary General for Internet Governance”. Whether Wu will address this before the upcoming IGF meeting in Azerbaijan remains to be seen. Wu formerly held diplomatic positions in Germany, Manila, Hong Kong and at the Sino-British Joint Liaison Group that worked to integrate Hong Kong’s administration into China.

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