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CIRA’s statement for the Global Digital Compact first informal stakeholder consultations

CIRA's intervention at the United Nations Tech Envoy's first meeting of the Global Digital Compact informal consultations.
By Sabrina Wilkinson
Policy Program Manager

The following remarks were delivered virtually on February 12th, 2024, at the first meeting of the Global Digital Compact informal consultations. 

Good afternoon Chair, co-facilitators, and fellow stakeholders,  

The Canadian Internet Registration Authority – CIRA – is a not-for-profit organization with a core mandate to ensure the safe, stable and secure operation of the .CA domain and its underlying domain name system (DNS) technologies.  

We are long-time participants in global internet governance and act as the Secretariat for the Canadian Internet Governance Forum, the national initiative of the UN-led Internet Governance Forum (IGF). 

CIRA welcomes the opportunity to participate in these stakeholder consultations on the Global Digital Compact as part of the technical community. 

In our view, the Compact can reflect a shared vision on global digital cooperation in its express support for the multistakeholder model of internet governance.  

All those groups that have a stake in the future of the internet ─ civil society, governments, academia, technical community, private sectors and users ─ should have the opportunity to participate, on equal footing, in its governance.  

Existing structures, such as the Internet Governance Forum, are best positioned to bring together these stakeholders to bolster the multistakeholder model. We do not support the introduction of new fora, such as the proposed Digital Cooperation Forum (DCF).  

However well-intended, a DCF could duplicate or make redundant key elements of multistakeholder processes ─ such as the IGF and its intersessional work ─ and centre governments in dialogues and coordination around the internet’s governance. The views of other stakeholder groups, including those integral to the internet’s day-to-day operation, would be sidelined and could be undermined.  

In bringing together a broad range of regionally diverse stakeholders to platform discussion about the internet and related issues, the IGF reflects the transparency and inclusivity built-into the mulitstakeholder model. The rich expertise and unique insights brought by these groups cannot be reproduced in multilateral environments.  

We recognize that there are complex and varied harms associated with the internet, but we are also believers in and fierce supporters of the promise, possibility, and inarguable successes of this technology.  Despite its challenges, the internet has and will continue to play a key role in the pursuit of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.  

In our view, meaningful participation from across all stakeholder groups ─ and on equal terms to each other and governments ─ is the best way to foster the enormous potential and opportunities of the internet, in 2024 and beyond. And it’s fundamental to the Compact’s expressed goal of an “open, free and secure digital future”.

Thank you.  

About the author
Sabrina Wilkinson

Sabrina is CIRA’s Policy Program Manager, where she develops and advocates for policy positions in pursuit of a trusted internet. Sabrina holds a PhD in Media & Communications from Goldsmiths, University of London.