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The national IGF landscape in Latin America and the Caribbean: Mapping the initiatives



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2017 Report
National and Regional Internet
Governance Forum Initiatives (NRIs)
National and Regional Internet Governance Forum Initiatives (NRIs) are now widely
recognised as a vital element of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) process.
In fact, they are seen to be the key to the sustainability and ongoing evolution
of collaborative, inclusive and multistakeholder approaches to internet policy
development and implementation.
A total of 54 reports on NRIs are gathered in this year’s Global Information Society
Watch (GISWatch). These include 40 country reports from contexts as diverse as
the United States, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bosnia and Herzegovina,
Italy, Pakistan, the Republic of Korea and Colombia.
The country reports are rich in approach and style and highlight several chal-
lenges faced by activists organising and participating in national IGFs, including
broadening stakeholder participation, capacity building, the unsettled role of
governments, and impact.
Seven regional reports analyse the impact of regional IGFs, their evolution and
challenges, and the risks they still need to take to shift governance to the next
level, while seven thematic reports offer critical perspectives on NRIs as well as
mapping initiatives globally.
National and Regional Internet
Governance Forum Initiatives (NRIs)
AssociAtion for Progressive commu nicAtions (APc)
9789295 102835
ISBN 978-92-95102-83-5
10th anniversary
a program of
Global Information Society Watch
Global Information Society Watch 2017
National and Regional Internet Governance Forum Initiatives (NRIs)
Coordinating committee
Karen Banks (APC)
Valeria Betancourt (APC)
Deborah Brown (APC)
Anriette Esterhuysen (APC)
Flavia Fascendini (APC)
Emilar Gandhi (Facebook)
Jac sm Kee (APC)
Project coordinator
Roxana Bassi (APC)
Alan Finlay
Assistant editor, publication production
Lori Nordstrom (APC)
Valerie Dee
Lynn Welburn
Graphic design
Phone: +598 2400 1685
Cover illustration
Matías Bervejillo
Financial support provided by
a program of
APC would like to thank the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida)
for its support for Global Information Society Watch 2017.
Published by APC
Printed in USA
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Some rights reserved.
Global Information Society Watch 2017 web and e-book
ISBN: 978-92-95102-84-2
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the introduction, thematic, regional and national reports
of GISWatch are not necessarily the views of APC or of its members.
A special edition of GISWatch, “Internet governance from the edges: NRIs in their own words", is being published
as a companion edition to the 2017 GISWatch annual report. It looks at the history, challenges and achievements
of NRIs, as recounted by their organisers. It is available at
Thematic reports / 27
The national IGF landscape in Latin America
and the Caribbean: Mapping the initiatives
Carolina Aguerre, Agustina Callegari, Diego Canabarro,
Louise-Marie Hurel and Nathalia Sautchuk
Universidad de San Andrés, Núcleo de Informação e
Coordenação do Ponto BR ( and London School of
Economics, and
The regional Internet Governance Forum of Latin
America and the Caribbean (LACIGF) celebrated its
10th event in August 2017. This is a landmark for
a developing region that is still striving to connect
the remaining 50% of its inhabitants to the internet.
In tandem, national internet governance initiatives
flourish in the region.
This report, based on a regional mapping study,
considers the rise of national IGFs in the LAC region
and the factors and mechanisms that influenced
their creation. Although drawing on a regional anal-
ysis, the preliminary findings have global relevance
and significance in understanding the potential
factors that drive the creation of forums across the
Research features
While the region has many problematic fronts in
terms of infrastructure, digital literacy and internet
policy more generally, there has been a marked in-
crease in recent years of national IGFs.1 Although
the Tunis Agenda2 adopted at the World Summit on
the Information Society (WSIS) acknowledged the
relevance of national mechanisms for internet gov-
ernance in 2005, it was only after 2013 that these
national IGFs clearly began to emerge as a consist-
ent pattern in the region. Several questions arise
from this trend: Why has this only taken place after
more than five years after Tunis? Have they been
triggered by domestic processes? Has the interna-
tional context determined their creation? Or, are
1 Please refer to the report “A mapping of national and regional
IGFs” in this edition.
2 World Summit on the Information Society. (2005). Tunis Agenda
for the Information Society.
they a combination of both national and interna-
tional forces? In both scenarios – domestic or global
influences – it is vital to identify the main factors
that underlie the creation of these mechanisms, the
current processes and formats for the forum that
have been set up, and the consequences they have
had for internet governance and policy in their local
and regional context more generally.
This report is based on ongoing research fo-
cused on mapping different internet governance
initiatives in the LAC region. This research aims to
provide information on the evolution and status of
the internet governance agenda within different
countries, including by offering a comparative per-
spective.3 Due to the lack of systematic information
on national internet governance initiatives, the pro-
ject seeks to promote a comprehensive approach to
the issue, based on the existing evidence and liter-
ature on the subject. A broader aim of the research
is to enhance the value of National and Regional
IGF Initiatives (NRIs) and internet governance more
generally in national public policy processes and cy-
cles in the region as a means to achieve fairer, more
accountable and open societies.
The approach to the overall research is largely
empirical, based on both qualitative approaches
and quantitative data. The key dimensions that
are considered for the mapping exercise are the
Themes: evolution of the internet governance
agenda in each country and, from a comparative
perspective, in the region.
The formats of these initiatives, including gov-
ernance structure, work modality and processes.
Identifying the resources that sustain these ini-
tiatives (human and financial).
3 The project is expected to be finished by April 2018 and one
of the outputs is to produce a website mapping the different
national initiatives in the region. The research addresses the
cases of Argentina, Barbados, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, the
Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Paraguay,
Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago and Uruguay, since they have
already organised their own internet governance initiatives and
are all in different stages of formalisation. This research project
is supported by the Internet Policy Observatory, University of
28 / Global Information Society Watch
Analysis of the impact of the initiatives on inter-
net policy in the country and region.
While we cannot comprehensively address these di-
mensions in all the national contexts for this current
report, we will focus on the origins and evolution of
individual initiatives, as well as their agendas and
emerging challenges.
The evolution of national initiatives in LAC
Some countries undertake some Internet gov-
ernance activity to a small extent by running
Country Code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) ad-
ministrations, although quite a number lag
behind even in this basic activity. Some also
participate in varying degrees in the activities
of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names
and Numbers’ (ICANN) Governmental Advisory
Committee (GAC), attend international forums
such as those organized by the International
Telecommunication Union (ITU), and have a reg-
ulatory regime for the Internet services sector.
Nevertheless these efforts can be characterized
as being disparate, uncoordinated and not in-
volving all stakeholders. The national Internet
governance regimes in most countries at the
moment do not meet the WSIS criteria of being
transparent, accountable, democratic and in-
volving the full participation of all stakeholders.4
As reflected in the above quotation of one of the
members of the global Working Group on Internet
Governance (WGIG) in 2005, at the time of the Tunis
Agenda, national mechanisms for internet govern-
ance were insufficient and did not comply with the
principles underscored by the WSIS process for
internet governance processes more generally. De-
spite this gap, it was only six years after the Tunis
Agenda was adopted that a national forum was cre-
ated in Brazil. But only in 2014 did the region see
more initiatives emerging to configure what could
be labelled as a trend, as illustrated in Figure 1.
In the case of Brazil, the existence of the Bra-
zilian Internet Steering Committee was already an
advanced national mechanism on its own.5 The cre-
4 Siganga, W. (2005). The Case for National Internet Governance
Mechanisms. In W. J. Drake (Ed.), Reforming Internet Governance:
Perspectives from the Working Group on Internet Governance
(WGIG). New York: The United Nations Information and
Communication Technologies Task Force.
5 Glaser, H. R., & Canabarro, D. R. (2016). Before and after the WGIG:
Twenty years of multistakeholder Internet governance in Brazil.
In Drake, W. J. (Ed.), The Working Group on Internet Governance:
10th anniversary reflections. Association for Progressive
ation of a forum can be interpreted as an extra step
in the consolidation of national internet governance
activities. Other national contexts that had already
developed a process around internet governance
issues were:
Mexico, with the Mexican Dialogues on Internet
Governance initiated in 2013.
Costa Rica, which had developed the Internet
Consultative Committee (CCI) in 2012 and five
years later organised its first national IGF.
Colombia, with the Colombian Bureau of
Internet Governance,6 a platform for multistake-
holder dialogue created in 2013 during the 6th
While Argentina did not have a mechanism that
could be compared to these other initiatives, it had
organised a pre-IGF event in 2015 to start organising
the community for a fully-fledged multistakeholder
event in 2016. In other countries in the region, the
initiatives were mostly driven by the need to gener-
ate a national forum as a multistakeholder space for
informed dialogue on internet policy issues, with
stakeholders on an equal footing.
In a preliminary analysis of these initiatives,7
there are several issues that emerge forcefully.
First, the country code top-level domain (ccTLD) of
the country is involved in all cases. This fact is relat-
ed to the historic role played by these organisations
in the operation of critical internet resources. In
that capacity, they had to abide by global princi-
ples for the interoperability of the root zone, and at
the same time, to look at the needs of their nation-
al communities. In a similar vein, Internet Society
(ISOC) chapters8 are the national nodes of a larger
organisation with the mission to maintain the core
architectural and policy principles of the internet,
and many country initiatives are sustained and sup-
ported by these. In this way, ccTLDs and/or ISOC
chapters play a catalysing role.
Another finding is related to a pattern: the first
wave of national IGFs emerged clearly in 2014,
shortly after the Edward Snowden surveillance reve-
lations and the consequent effects on global internet
policy. The impact of these revelations of global,
mass cybersurveillance cannot be underestimated,
since it forcefully pushed the relevance of internet
governance onto the agenda of regional policy mak-
ers, and rallied civil society around a fresh urgency
6 See the Colombia country report in this edition for more
information on the Colombian Bureau of Internet Governance.
7 As was stated previously, at the time of publication, the research
was still ongoing.
Thematic reports / 29
of cause.9 For the first time, addressing internet gov-
ernance was not a niche topic for specialists: it was
reflected prominently in the media and it became a
public policy issue that demanded the attention of
governments. In this context, the organisation of a
national IGF made sense as a space to discuss and
address issues of concern for many stakeholders,
and for wider audiences. In all the cases where a na-
tional IGF emerged in 2013-2014, there was a direct
interest in beginning to address internet governance
issues from the perspective and possibilities of a
national IGF as well as with other mechanisms. That
need was captured by the Global Multistakeholder
Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance (NET-
mundial) held in 2014.10
A second wave of national IGF initiatives in the
region appeared in 2016-2017. One of the most im-
portant explanations for that development is the
fact that the organisational aspects become clearer
9 Aguerre, C., & Galperin, H. (2015). Internet Policy Formation in
Latin America: Understanding the links between the national,
the regional and the global. Internet Policy Observatory,
Center for Global Communication Studies at the University of
10 The final statement adopted during the meeting reads as follows:
“There is a need to develop multistakeholder mechanisms at the
national level owing to the fact that a good portion of Internet
governance issues should be tackled at this level. National
multistakeholder mechanisms should serve as a link between local
discussions and regional and global instances. Therefore a fluent
coordination and dialogue across those different dimensions is
essential.” For further information on the NETmundial process,
see: Drake, W. J., & Price, M. (Eds.), Beyond NETmundial: The
Roadmap for Institutional Improvements to the Global Internet
Governance Ecosystem.
for the interested stakeholders: as there were more
national IGFs in the region, it became easier to
share best practices and find guidance. One such
best practice is the creation of pre-events in order
to set the scene and generate capacity building
before the actual national IGF. Another is the devel-
opment of open consultation mechanisms for the
development of the agenda, where input from the
community is sought to organise the programme.
Many of the regional and sometimes global rep-
resentatives of ICANN,11 ISOC and the regional
registry, the Latin America and Caribbean Network
Information Centre (LACNIC),12 have participated in
these events, helping to legitimise them and pro-
vide sustainability.
In addition, funding and general support for
holding a forum is more readily available. The glob-
al internet governance ecosystem is providing more
assistance to these initiatives by providing clear-
er expectations as to the sources of funding now
available from organisations such as the Internet
Governance Forum Support Association (IGFSA),13
ISOC and ICANN, as well as by offering toolkits and
recommendations developed by organisations such
as ISOC14 and the National and Regional IGF Initia-
tive group of the IGF Secretariat.15
14 ISOC Internet Governance Event Toolkit: https://www.
Timeline: Emergence of national IGFs in LAC
2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
30 / Global Information Society Watch
Even though the global internet governance
regime constitutes a much more open, less formal-
ised and “inchoate” system vis-à-vis others,16 it is
very close to the concept of an institution in its ca-
pacity to provide structure, stability and reference
values.17 From the initial evidence of these cases, the
international regime – structured in a mesh of institu-
tional actors and policy processes has managed to
exert its influence by promoting a framework that has
“streamlined” these initiatives to conform to these ex-
pectations in terms of format and overall objectives.
Despite these effects from the international
environment, one can see strong variations from
country to country, related with how these national
forums become integrated with the national policy
environment and local institutional culture. In ad-
dition, there are distinct differences among them.
One of the most salient is related to whether they
are once-off annual events, or whether they man-
age to become part of a broader mechanism, as is
the case with Brazil, Colombia and Costa Rica. Nev-
ertheless, while mainstreamed in those countries,
the national IGF is only one of the initiatives dealing
with internet governance.
Themes and issues
While the format and organisational settings of
these initiatives are vital aspects, since they tend
to show their adherence to and way of materialis-
ing the principles and best practices enshrined in
the discourse of the internet governance regime,
the issues that are addressed in their respective
agendas are key dimensions for a comparative
analysis, as they present the substantive element
of each individual forum. As previously stated, most
of these initiatives include a consultation period on
the issues to be addressed at the forum, in order to
reflect the interests of the community.
While the issue of internet infrastructure and
the digital divide – the “digital divide” not just from
a material point of view, but also including intan-
gible dimensions of this concept, such as digital
literacy is undoubtedly a key theme which is far
from being solved in the region, it is by no means
the main topic in most of these forums as one might
expect in a developing region. Sometimes these is-
sues are framed more generally under sustainable
development and human rights.
16 Raymond, M., & DeNardis, L. (2015). Multistakeholderism:
Anatomy of an Inchoate Global Institution. International Theory,
7(3), 572-616.
17 Peters, B. G. (2005). Gobernanza y Burocracia Pública: ¿Nuevas
formas de democracia o nuevas formas de control? Foro
Internacional, XLV(4), 585-598.
Cybersecurity and surveillance and the rights
that are affected by these issues have become a
common theme in most of these events. The effect
of international scandals and attacks on fundamen-
tal human rights should not be underestimated.
Sometimes these discussions have a grounding in
the national context, but in other cases these are
topics that set the scene regarding what is expected
by a national community in the policy-making pro-
cess around these issues in a country.
A more recent example that has spread widely
among these forums in the last two years is that of
issues related to the concept of the “digital econo-
my”, which featured prominently in Peru, Panama
and Trinidad and Tobago’s IGF events in 2017, as
well as in Argentina’s first and second events. This
theme highlights opportunities that the countries
should seize and challenges they must face in order
to reap the benefits of pervasive digitalisation in the
different productive sectors.
Lastly, another pattern seen in the agenda of
both national IGFs and the global one is related to
the meta-governance dimension.18 It is based on the
normative perspective that guides the mechanisms
of interaction among the stakeholders, which also
implies reflecting on the rules and mechanisms
within each initiative. This takes the shape of a
special session, such as “Taking Stock”, which as-
sesses the main takeaways of the processes as well
as evaluates the challenges lying ahead, which is a
vital aspect for their development.
Emerging challenges
Probably one of the most pressing challenges
for these initiatives is their impact on the wider
policy-making environment, both at the nation-
al but also at the international level. While most
stakeholders involved in the organisation of these
initiatives are aware of the difficulties in tracing a
direct linkage between a national IGF and a policy
outcome, there is pressure to show results. This is
more evident in the case of those forums which are
annual once-off activities rather than sustained ef-
forts with regular interactions throughout the year.
If there is a perception that these events have no
consequence in the policy-making process or in
the ecosystem more generally, the incentives for
participation tend to decrease. One of the most
interesting problems for these initiatives, which
was also part of an exercise conducted during
18 Peters, B. G. (2010). Governing in the Shadows. Berlin: DFG
Research Center (SFB) 700; and Kooiman, J. (2004). Gobernar en
gobernanza. Instituciones y Desarrollo, 16, 171-194.
Thematic reports / 31
the global IGF in 2014, is to identify and establish
different criteria to evaluate the success of these
Another threat facing these initiatives is the
continuity and predictability of the work in the near
and middle future, as well as the sustainability of
intersessional work between annual events. These
initiatives rely on voluntary work in most cases
and unless there is a formal secretariat which is
usually sustained by either a ccTLD or a local ISOC
chapter – the organisation of these initiatives tends
to become more difficult. For example, in the case
of the Mexican Dialogues on Internet Governance,
there has been a mechanism in place for multi-
stakeholder work on internet governance issues for
nearly five years, but it has only managed to organ-
ise two national IGFs.
A major challenge for these projects is to at-
tract new voices and new leaders. There is a risk
of “elitisation”19 and closure among the groups
that participate in these initiatives and which have
become more clearly defined as an “epistemic com-
munity”, understood as a network of professionals
with recognised experience and competence in a
certain policy field. This community shares prin-
ciples, norms and beliefs, notions of validity and
causality, as well as policy objectives,20 which
promote a closure around the groups. A major
indicator that these initiatives tend to be self-ref-
erenced is that the same people tend to appear in
these programmes. While this is certainly relevant
to promote consistency, identity and a common
mission, it is also problematic that these initiatives
might exclude new perspectives and voices from
joining these debates, which could be harmful for
innovation, particularly considering the rapid tech-
nological progress concerning the internet and the
ever-increasing policy implications that it carries.
19 Chenou, J.-M. (2014). The Role of Transnational Elites in Shaping
the Evolving Field of Internet Governance. PhD dissertation,
Université de Lausanne.
20 Haas, P. M. (1992). Introduction: Epistemic Communities and
International Policy Coordination. International Organization, 46(1).
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Full-text available
Building on John Ruggie’s pioneering study of multilateralism, this paper presents an analogous study of multistakeholder governance, or multistakeholderism. Its central argument is that multistakeholderism is, as yet, a much less well-defined institutional form. Cases exhibit significant variation both in the combinations of actor classes entitled to participate and the nature of authority relations among those actors. The first section discusses multistakeholderism as an institutional form, and proposes a taxonomy of its types. This section also briefly addresses the implications of the analysis for International Relations theory. The paper then conducts a comparative analysis of multistakeholderism, applying the taxonomy to five illustrative cases. It demonstrates the degree of inter-case variation, and the range of issue-areas across which the institutional form is employed and invoked by actors. Three cases are drawn from the increasingly contentious area of Internet governance; the paper thus makes a secondary contribution to this growing literature. The paper’s most striking finding in this regard is that Internet governance often fails to live up to its multistakeholder rhetoric. Other cases include governance of securities regulation and the governance of corporate social responsibility. The paper concludes by examining the implications of our argument, and identifying areas for further research.
La gobernanza es un término que ha venido ganando terreno en los últimos años dentro de las discusiones especializadas sobre el sector público y las reformas administrativas. De acuerdo con ciertas aproximaciones al tema, la gobernanza como enfoque de gestión del sector público ofrece aumentar la legitimidad y la eficacia de las políticas públicas, al acercar el trabajo gubernamental a redes ciudadanas y de organizaciones sociales. Sin embargo, las implicaciones no tan positivas que la gobernanza puede traer consigo todavía no han sido analizadas a fondo. Este artículo repasa los argumentos que se han esgrimido a favor de la gobernanza y busca ofrecer una imagen más completa de los posibles efectos (ventajas y desventajas) que este modelo de administración pública puede llegar a producir.