Elon University

An interview transcript from the first Internet Governance Forum, Athens, Greece Oct/Nov 2006: Estuko Anderson

IGF 2006 LogoThis is a transcript from a series of video interviews designed to assess major issues tied to the diffusion of the internet. It is the record of one of many interviews conducted in 2006 with international internet stakeholders from 18 different nations at the world’s first Internet Governance Forum in Athens, Greece. The Athens IGF was the first of five annual global events administrated by the UN to focus on discussion of the overarching issues tied to the future of information and communications technologies. More than 1,200 participants shared information, experiences and best practices.

Estuko Anderson – Senior Manager, Barbados Foreign Affairs Ministry, since 1987; has supervised departments dealing with Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia, Commonwealth, UN and CARICOM. Head of chancery at Barbados High Commission, Ottawa, Canada. 

The Transcript:

Q: Who are you representing at IGF?

A: I’m here at IGF representing DiploFoundation and I am from Barbados.

Q: Why are you here at IGF?

A: I just like to clarify that I am a diplomat but I am at this forum not representing my government directly, I am representing DiploFoundation. So anything that I do say is certainly not the views of the government of Barbados specifically, although having come from there, I am from a developing country. What I would say is certainly reflective of the general concerns of developing countries like mine.

Q: What purpose are you serving here and what relevance does IGF have?

A: DiploFoundation is an institution that develops capacity-building programs for developing countries to expand knowledge, really, in the field of Internet governance. And I have done some programs with them, a research program in capacity-building, which was the very last thing I have done. And so we are here through fellowships that were offered to the successful students in that research program, and I am happy for the opportunity to allow me and Diplo to network with the other participants at such a forum. Being the inaugural forum of the Internet Governance, it is certainly a useful platform to learn more about the matters at hand today in Internet governance issues that need to be brought to the table and need to be moved forward to have the Internet governed and regulated to the benefit of everybody.

Q: How did you determine who would represent DiploFoundation at IGF?

A: I not in the management of Diplo, but as I said, they have these programs of study and they were able to get funding from some key institutions to offer fellowships, and my understanding is that selection of participants for this forum was strictly based on the performance of the student. So if you performed well, if you engaged in the program of study and produced good work, then that was the criteria used to select. In my case, I focused on one of the forum themes, which is openness, and I did a research paper with two other colleagues on the openness of the Internet from a human-rights perspective, so clearly, what is being discussed today in the forum on the openness issues, that is something that I’ve been tracking as much as possible today and in the workshops.

Q: What is the openness issue? How do you define it and how is it being addressed here?

A: We looked at the openness issues to state what they are – what are these issues. And also to see how the legal and policy frameworks that exist now, how they can support human rights on the Internet. And if they cannot, then what we need to do to develop frameworks to guarantee the respect for internationally respected and agreed on human rights on the Internet. And there are so many human rights that exist and the key to this is to see that while international users, users from the Internet community, are on the Internet, that their rights are guaranteed.

Q: How do you guarantee those rights when each country defines human rights differently?

A: This is why there is need for dialogue. Rights can only be guaranteed where there is agreement to do so. Even where there are countries that are repressive and disregard rights, the thing is to try to reinforce the need for international acceptance, the need to engage these countries and to reinforce that the only way for us all to interact in this global society is to agree to how we’re going to interact. So, dialogue is really the best means that I can see of ensuring that human rights are upheld.

Q: What do you see happening to those countries who opt out of this dialogue?

A: History has shown what can happen to those that do not want to play fair and to play the game according to the rules, and I imagine that similar outcomes would be achieved if some countries refuse to agree or refuse to find a way to interact. As far as the Internet is concerned, I think it would be more difficult because of the very nature of the Internet. Access to particular content on the Internet is something that while our government may have a policy not to permit, the very technical nature and infrastructure of the Internet can allow for that to happen, so it’s one of those things where technology will be pushing in one direction and governments will have to be ahead of the game to block the technology and some of them are not capable.

Q: What one key thing would you ask policy makers to do to ensure a positive future for network technology? 

A: The important thing right now where we are at with having a forum, a platform for dialogue on Internet governance, the important thing now is to move on to the next stage. After the dialogue, how are we actually going to arrive at international consensus, Internet agreement, frameworks for interaction? And I think that is what the policymakers should be focusing on. Also I’d like to state that I’m from the developing-country perspective. At the end of the day, what is important is to see that throughout this process of negotiation, that the needs and concerns of developing countries are not ignored, are not left out, as has happened in most multi-lateral dialogue today.

Q: Describe the future impact of the Internet in one word.

A: It’s encouraging – there’s a lot of hope for the Internet. I can’t see anything that will stop the Internet. So it is certainly unstoppable. Where we’re at, it’s very encouraging.

This video transcript is offered for use under a Creative Commons Noncommercial License allowing no derivative works. Executive producers, Erin Barnett and Janna Quitney Anderson; chief engineer, Bryan Baker; videographers, Barnett and Baker; editor, Barnett.