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Welcome and opening remarks

Page history last edited by Mary Murphy 9 years, 6 months ago



  • Amb. Jürg Lauber, Head, UN and International Organisation Division, Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs
  • Ruedi Noser (apologies)
  • Dr Jovan Kurbalija, Director, DiploFoundation and Head of the Geneva Internet Platform, conference host.


Session notes


Welcome and opening remarks


It’s Day One of the much-anticipated Geneva Internet Conference. The first day, dedicated to mapping out the Internet governance (IG) landscape, began with a welcoming speech by Amb. Jürg Lauber, Head of Division, UN and International Organisations Division, Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, introduced by Dr Jovan Kurbalija, Director of DiploFoundation and Head of the Geneva Internet Platform.


Amb. Lauber explained how the Geneva Internet Conference was the first major conference taking place under auspices of the Geneva Internet Platform, supported by the Swiss government. The conference will draw on the diversity of participants from ‘all four corners of the world’, and from various stakeholder groups.


The shape of Internet governance in the years to come


In 2014, a year that will probably shape IG for years to come, there were three major developments that brought IG to this crossroads. Earlier this year, the US government announced its intention to transfer the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions to the international community. A few weeks later, the NETmundial meeting in São Paulo set new standards on how to shape the IG process. In September, the ninth Internet Governance Forum (IGF) took place in Istanbul with a record number of participants (~2400), and demonstrated the increasing need for a platform for public policy discussions. [Richard Hill noted that discussions on IG should also take the WSIS+10 event into account.]


The role of International Geneva


Drawing on its historical role in global affairs, Amb. Lauber said that Switzerland has been actively contributing to the process and supporting the IGF, and has endeavoured to promote the values of inclusiveness and accountability – values which are at the heart of the IG debate. At this point in the IG debate, inclusiveness is a key concept, crucial for sustainable development. Indeed, one of the main aims of the GIP, organiser of the Geneva Internet Conference, is to help increase and enhance participation of actors whose voices have not yet been heard.


If we can speak of the Internet in numbers, Amb. Lauber mused, what counts is more its diversity with regard to its geography and stakeholders, which makes for a complex IG ecosystem and disables the possibility of predicting the future.  He quoted US President Bill Clinton who described the progress of IG as one of ‘stumbling forward’.


Geneva has positioned itself as the centre of global governance. As a hub of international organisations and other bodies, and with its synergies, the city is a major player in many areas, not least in IG.  ‘It is the ambition of International Geneva to be operational and relevant, where theory and practice can come together’, Amb. Lauber concluded.


Remote participation


Summarising the conference agenda and proceedings, Dr Jovan Kurbalija gave a warm welcome to the audience, panellists, and participants. He underlined the complexity of IG and highlighted the importance of a global voice. The conference includes both in situ and remote participants, with 15 hubs connected live to Geneva from Malta, Belgrade, Beunos Aires, Calabar and Bayelsa in Nigeria, Groningen, Tunis, Barbados, Colombia, Pakistan, Moscow, Chicago, San Francisco, and Trinidad and Tobago. Continuous reporting will feed into a summary report of what transpires over the course of the two days and will be offered to the international community to further the discussion on IG. With interactive activities, a world café, workshop discussions, live reporting, and an online space for discussions by remote participants, the conference will provide the ideal space for discussions as it paves the way to 2015, building on the main events and developments in 2014. 


Visit the conference webpage for details, programme and list of speakers and links to participate remotely.

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