Caribbean Internet Governance Forum (CIGF)

Caribbean Internet Governance Forum (CIGF)

Definition of Internet Governance

As articulated in the report of the United Nations’ Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG) in 2005, “Internet governance is the development and application by Governments, the private sector and civil society, in their respective roles, of shared principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures, and programmes that shape the evolution and use of the Internet.”

Regional Polices for Internet Governance

The Internet pervades all aspects of modern life and Caribbean governments have recognised the indispensability of digital services and transformation to future national and regional social and economic growth and development. Governments of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) have also approved a Vision and Roadmap for a CARICOM Single ICT Space which envisages a region of harmonised ICT policies, legislation and regulations that facilitates the concept of “an ICT-enabled borderless space that fosters economic, social and cultural integration for the betterment of Caribbean citizens”. In this context, it is prudent, even essential, that Caribbean stakeholders work collaboratively at all levels to put in place appropriate technical, legal, economic and social policies and practices to underpin regional development in this era of rapid technological change. Regionally harmonised policies for Internet governance would therefore support achievement of the Single ICT Space and help optimise the use of limited resources.

The CIGF – Background

The Caribbean Internet Governance Forum (CIGF) is a multi-stakeholder grouping initially convened by the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) and the CARICOM Secretariat in 2005 to bring together Caribbean views on the issues that were being addressed at the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS). The CIGF has since been convened annually by the CTU with the intention of studying and offering recommendations on technical, content, policy, cyber security, privacy and other matters related to the Internet. The CIGF was the first regional forum of its kind worldwide and it continues to evolve with the Internet.

The CIGF has had 16 sessions from its inception to 2020 and has produced and maintained a policy framework document based on the outputs of those sessions and inter-sessional online discussions. 

Objective and Structure of the CIGF

The CIGF is the platform for synthesising Caribbean views on Internet policy matters. It provides a forum for discussing, analysing and building consensus on issues, priorities, objectives, policies and structures relating to the governance of the Internet in the Caribbean, with the aim of ensuring that the development and use of the Internet proceeds in an equitable manner that benefits everyone. It is a forum to which all stakeholders can contribute on an equal basis without any formal hierarchy.

All are welcome to participate in the CIGF, including policy makers, regulators, service providers, content providers, consumer groups, academia, professionals, end users and other Internet interest groups.

Priorities of the CIGF

The CIGF remains concerned with the following issues as outlined in its policy framework:

  • Broadband infrastructure
  • Internet technical operations
  • Legal frameworks
  • Local Internet content development
  • Awareness-building
  • Research

In addition, the CIGF continues to foster the establishment of national IGFs in Caribbean territories and strengthen institutional linkages to other regional Internet Governance Forums (such as the LACIGF) as well as the United Nation’s global Internet Governance Forum.