Day One Afternoon Plenary: 
Internet Governance - The Official Opening Session 

Session description: This session presented a stage on which global leaders could express their support and encouragement for enhanced cooperation and further progress at the meetings and exchanges inspired by those who gathered for the 2010 IGF. The IGF process was established by global participants in the World Summits on the Information Society (WSIS) (held in the early 2000's in Geneva and Tunis) to inspire dialogue resulting in informed leadership. The document establishing IGF, the Tunis Agenda (2005) states: "The international management of the Internet should be multilateral, transparent and democratic, with the full involvement of governments, the private sector, civil society and international organizations ... for a people-centered, inclusive, development-oriented and non-discriminatory Information Society."

IGF-2010: Developing the Future Together

September 14, 2010 - Rod Beckstrom, CEO and president of ICANN, Sami Al-Basheer of the ITU Telecommunications Development Bureau and Ginger Paque, co-coordinator for the Internet Governance Caucus, were among the headline-makers playing important roles on the first day of the Internet Governance Forum.
 
This opening session of IGF was chaired by Eligijus Masiulis, minister of Transport and Communications of Lithuania. "The Internet is, at the moment, the driving force that helps to transmit information flow," Masiulis said. He also discussed the digital divide and the European Union’s commitment to a digital agenda in which 100 percent of citizens of the EU will, "have the opportunity to access broadband" by 2013.
 
Rod Beckstrom, CEO and president of Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), spoke about his organization's role in Internet policy and the involvement of people from all sectors of society in decision-making. "The fact that the Internet works is a testament and a tribute to the multistakeholder governance model," he said. "Governments could not do it alone." Beckstrom noted that, "government alone will decide the future" of the IGF,  when the United Nations General Assembly votes this fall as to whether it will extend the IGF charter. He appealed to IGF participants and those in support of IGF to make their voices heard. "Together we can ensure that the Internet's future rests in the hands of its most important constituency: The people," he urged. "The Internet works. Let's keep it that way."
 
The theme for the fifth annual IGF gathering in Vilnius is "developing the future together," and it is fitting as the IGF is hoping for an extension of its five-year mandate by the U.N.

Speakers in the opening session stressed the importance of a cooperative effort in shaping Internet policy among stakeholders and maintaining the transparency and openness of the Internet for all.

Andrew McLaughlin, deputy chief technology officer of The White House, United States of America, said enhanced cooperation is becoming even more important as the Internet grows to support billions more people. "The architecture of the Internet needs to be actively maintained," he observed. "It needs to be actively supported. And as I said that architecture is decentalized, it is cooperative, it is layered, and the governance institutions, the governance processes, have to mirror and in many ways model that architecture in the way they function. That's why the IGF is so important, because it is a critical element of the multistakeholder process applied to the problems of Internet governance."

McLaughlin said there is a need for many organizations to successfully work together to assure that communications networks provide the most benefits for the most people. "We need mechanisms and institutions that respect each other and cooperate with each other to strengthen their own core competencies and to enable others to pursue their distinct roles in that broader ecosystem," he said, adding, "we can't solve all of the problems of the Internet in one forum, not one treaty organization, not one multistakeholder forum, we need multiple institutions."

Among the other leaders who spoke at the opening ceremony were:

Jomo Kwame Sundaram
Assistant Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA)

Dalia Grybauskaite
President of the Republic of Lithuania

Eligijus Masiulis
Minister of Transport and Communications, Lithuania

Neelie Kroes
Vice President of the European Commission

Maud de Boer-Buquicchio
Deputy Secretary General, Council of Europe

Lynn St. Amour
CEO and President, The Internet Society (ISOC)

Augusto Gadelha Vieira
Secretary General, Ministry of Science and Technology, Brazil

N. Ravi Shanker
Joint Secretary, Department of Information Technology, Ministry of Information Technology, India

Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet
Secretary of State for Forward Planning and the Development of the Digital Economy, France

Jean-Paul Philippot
President, European Broadcasting Union (EBU); CEO, Radio Télévision Belge de la Communauté Française

Annemie Turtelbloom
Minister of Internal Affairs, Belgium

IGF 2010 Topics - Panel discussions, workshops and other meetings that took place on the opening morning of IGF and will continue to take place this week are aimed at illuminating many issues, including: the future of privacy; freedom of connection and expression; long-term Internet stability; cross-border criminal law on the Internet; a multilingual Internet; international trade and governance; digital inclusion; cybersecurity; disabilities access; governance of social media; enhancing transparency; child safety; cloud confidence and implications of cloud computing; and the issues tied to the involvement of Internet intermediaries in information networks.
 
The four previous meetings of IGF were held in Athens, Greece in November 2006; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in November 2007; in Hyderabad, India, in November 2008; and in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt in November 2009. If there is a sixth IGF, it is expected to take place in Nairobi, Kenya. 

The UN's official transcript of the opening ceremony of IGF 2010 can be found at this link: 
http://www.intgovforum.org/cms/component/content/
article/96-vilnius-2010-meeting-events/628-opening-cereminy

 - Reporting by Kirsten Bennett, photography by Drew Smith
- Senior segment producer, Janna Anderson
Video footage for this article was recorded in Elon, NC, from the live Web video streamed from Vilnius

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