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Enabling meaningful participation
The "rules of the game" for the information society are being made in many different global policy-making frameworks, and at the heart of the debate about Internet governance is the lack of representation and participation of developing nations in many of these policy forums and discussions. Having been repeatedly told how important ICT is for their development goals, governments and other representatives from developing nations have come to realise they are absent from most of the related policy development processes. Rightly, they see this as an unfair situation and a very significant manifestation of the digital divide. Developing nations are demanding a greater role in all ICT policy forums.
The Geneva Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action state that institutional arrangements for Internet governance should be multilateral, transparent, democratic, and open to all stakeholders. These are important principles, but inclusive governance mechanisms cannot be achieved without also building technical and policy capacity.4 Recommendations on capacity building are beyond the scope of this chapter, but there are many organisations working on ICT and Internet capacity building in the Asia-Pacific region. These range from traditional intergovernmental processes, such as those organised by the Asia-Pacific Telecommunity and the Asia-Pacific Development Information Programme of the regional office of UNDP, to private-sector and volunteer-led activities working on more specific issues such as Internet security (APCERT), spam (APCAUCE), the operation and management of country code top-level domains (APTLD), and Internet technical training (APRICOT).5 These and other similar organisations and bodies are responsible for many Internet successes in the region and should be built on, not replaced.