This essay is just a memorandum of Internet Governance and ICT4D of PICs. I need to read more papers and reports, as well as have comments and opinions form stakeholders, to develop my perspective.
The Cold War of Internet Governance – Chances and Challenges for Pacific Island Countries
While attending Nethui 2012 in Auckland and PacINET2012 in Fiji, I have encountered the answer to two of my questions.
The first question was why ITU and UN suddenly co-organised WSIS around 2000. Also why the UN and ITU invited all stakeholders, including NGOs, to this WSIS. ITU is basically a group of telecom companies and governments, while the UN is totally a government body. So this scheme of WSIS seemed quite unique. Further, although ITU established ITU-D after the “Maitland Report – The Missing Link”, they did not really support ICT4D in Pacific Island Countries and other developing countries. There is something missing between Maitland Report and WSIS – what is this? *
The second question was why the World Bank and Asia Development Bank suddenly started to support launching the maritime cable to small islands countries, such Tonga, Samoa, Solomon Islands. These Island Countries’ small scales of economy was always an obstacle for developing huge infrastructure, such as the maritime cable. The only island countries that are connected with undersea cable are those where developed metropolitan countries have special interests in, such as economic and military purpose. Both Fiji and PNG have been connected to a maritime cable ever since they were colonies of Britain and Germany. These connections were not initially set up for the benefit of the peoples of Fiji and PNG.
Recently both the Marshall Islands and FSM have been connected as a result of the presence of a US missile base on Kwajalein Atoll, which needs to be connected to other US military bases in Guam.
The World Bank and Asia Development Bank are typical inner citadels of the “Market Economy”. Why and how do they find market opportunities in the small and remote states?
The first question was settled when I attended the InternetNZ annual meeting “Nethui 2012” in Auckland. One of sessions was talking about “Internet Governance”. The moderator of this session pointed out an upcoming ITU meeting in Dubai, in December 2012. ITU is planning to take over Internet Governance from ICANN. I asked the question “WSIS has hidden agenda of Internet Governance? Rather than agenda of supporting developing countries?” The answer was “Yes”. It was explained to me how WSIS started with an initiative of ITU and UN. BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) involved WSIS from the beginning for the take over Internet Governance from US.
The second question was just answered during PacINET2012 in Fiji. I learnt from a few presentations that ITU had suddenly came to PICs and showed their support. This had never happened before in ITU’s history, as I understanding. Again, WB and ADB suddenly started to support the maritime cable development and telecom de-regulation.
As one of my academic specialities is “International Relations”, I could see the picture at once.
During the coffee break in the PacINET meeting I showed this picture to some of the participants, and all of them agreed. Indeed one told me that “everybody knows but no one talks”. So I would like to name this picture the “Cold War of Internet Governance”.
This picture also may explain why the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications of Japan DID NOT cooperate after the announcement of the "Okinawa Charter on Global Information Society" in 2000, and again in 2003 when the Asia-Pacific WSIS meeting was held in Tokyo. So Japan may split as in above table.
The former Secretary General of ITU, Mr Yoshio Utsumi, was the high official of Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications of Japan who clearly criticized US hegemony on the Internet Governance in his website. http://yutsumi.web.fc2.com/
WSIS was launched with Mr Utsumi when he was Secretary General of ITU. He also mentioned in his website that his intention was not supported by Japanese government. I assume that disorder had existed, and may be still exist in the Japanese policy makers on the Internet Governance.
During a coffee break of PacINET I was asked by a US participant “which do you support?” to which I replied “Of course US”.
Actually I am not sure about how Internet Governance should be. I think that this is a huge challenge for the new order of global society in which human beings from both east and west, or north and south, need to confront.
However if you recall the history of Internet development, we can not ignore the US experience and contribution. Also we should keep freedom for the geeks who were the innovators of the Internet. Furthermore, ITU and telecommunication companies did not really contribute to the Internet, rather they interrupted its development, such as Skype.
The other thoughts on this Cold War is that this conflict between two groups will give a golden chance and challenge for those developing countries such as PICs which have now started to connect with the cyber world through the maritime cable which is supported by WB and ADB, while the ITU is going to re-open their regional office in the PICs.
Is this Cold War de-ja vu?
Dr Milton Mueller has web site on Internet Governance Project. This may help you to understand Internet Governance, if you are not familiar with.http://www.internetgovernance.org/
* Nordenstreng, K. Author, Padovani, C. pointed same question, although they compare with NWICO, not Maitland report. "From NWICO to WSIS: another world information and communication order?", December 2005 vol. 1 no. 3 264-272, Global Media and Communication,