Arab Dialogue on Internet Governance (ArabDIG)
The sustained partnership between ESCWA and the League of Arab States (LAS) in the area of Internet governance stemmed from the regional preparatory and follow up activities to the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS), from the inception its process and prior to the WSIS 2003-Geneva and 2005-Tunis phases. This partnership goes back to the time when Internet governance started to be a prominent issue within the 2003 WSIS, and has recognized the importance of the global Internet Governance Forum (IGF) that was launched in 2006 by the United Nations Secretary-General following the 2005 WSIS.
The ESCWA-LAS joint efforts resulted in 2009 with the launch of the regional initiative named Arab Dialogue on Internet Governance (ArabDIG), and have led in 2009 to the publication of the ESCWA study on Internet Governance: Challenges and Opportunities for the Arab region (also available in Arabic) in support of the development of a regional framework for Internet governance. The ESCWA and League's efforts on Internet governance at the time has covered the Arabic Domain Names System in particular and Internet governance issues in general, with an overall objective to promote the participation and positioning of the Arab region in the Internet governance arena.
The ArabDIG initiative aimed at the following: (a) Consolidate efforts and harmonize the implementation of activities that assist Arab countries in reaching a better understanding of the challenges and prospects of Internet governance from the Arab region's perspective; (b) Build capacities to respond to those challenges; (c) Support countries to seize opportunities to bring their views to the global dialogue and contribute to shaping the policy structure for Internet governance; and (d) Promote the role of Arab countries in the global Internet society.
The ArabDIG initiative has engaged the various Arab stakeholders in the Internet governance policy dialogue, and has among its main results the production in 2010 of the "Arab Regional Roadmap for Internet Governance: Framework, Principles and Objectives" and of the "Call of Arab Stakeholders: Towards Activating Comprehensive Arab Cooperation for Internet Governance, Regionally and Internationally (in Arabic) that confirmed the need for an Arab IGF. Based on the Regional Roadmap and the Call of Arab Stakeholders, ESCWA and LAS has convened an open public consultation in 2012 that resulted with the formation of the Arab IGF process, to be in line with the mandate of the global IGF, and to engage all Arab stakeholders in open dialogue on international and regional Internet-related public policy issues. The ArabDIG initiative has proven its success when the mandate of the global IGF was renewed in 2010 for five-year period, and in 2015 for a ten-year period, until 2025.
Following four-years of the Arab IGF (2012-2015), the process is undergoing development through the AIGF2020 initiative that was announced by ESCWA and LAS in Dec 2015 at the conclusion of the Fourth Annual Arab IGF. The AIGF2020 initiative started with the formation of a Technical Cooperation Working Group (TCWG) from various stakeholders in Internet governance to assist the umbrella organizations, ESCWA and LAS, in the review of the Arab IGF process and introducing improvements in the second mandate. The AIGF2020 TCWG launched a Survey for the Impact Assessment and Improvement of the Arab IGF, and the initiative is expected to result with two main outputs, namely a new Charter of the Arab IGF process for its second phase, and an updated Regional Roadmap on Internet Governance.
The AIGF2020 produced the Report of the Technical Cooperation Working Group for the Development of the Arab IGF: Towards a New Charter, and it is available for public comments from 1 to 22 March 2017. Comments can be sent to through a survey and to the email ESCWA-ArabIGF@un.org.
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