US State Dept Donates US$350K To UN-Led Internet Governance Forum

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The United States State Department has made a one-time contribution of US$350,000 to the perennially cash-strapped Internet Governance Forum, a multi-stakeholder discussion forum established by the 2003-2005 World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).

“As part of the United States efforts to ensure a continued open, interoperable, and secure Internet through global, multistakeholder participation, the State Department’s Bureau of International Organization Affairs is providing $350,000 as a one-time contribution for the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) from its 2012 International Organizations and Programs (IO&P) budget,” it said in a press release. “This funding goes to the trust fund for the IGF Secretariat based in Geneva for its operational expenses.”

The IGF was not intended to be a norm-setting body but has been seen as an important forum for nations and stakeholders to discuss global internet governance issues. The WSIS was led by the United Nations International Telecommunication Union.

The next IGF meeting is scheduled for Bali, Indonesia from 22-25 October.

The move is notable in light of concerns among some that the United States has resisted moves to strengthen multilateral or UN oversight of the internet. The US retains a special connection to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the California-based non-profit corporation with technical oversight of the internet domain name system. The US has utilised multilateral fora to pursue its goal of internet freedom globally.

The IGF depends entirely on voluntary contributions, and this is the first time the US has provided this funding.

William New may be reached at wnew@ip-watch.ch.

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