For immediate release

Coordination in international Internet policy making on issues like cyber security is poor, says new paper; suggests practical solution

Waterloo, CanadaMay 21, 2015A Geneva-based ‘Coordination Committee’ would improve globally-disjointed policy discussions on critical Internet policy issues, including cyber security and online privacy and data protection, according to a new report issued by the Global Commission on Internet Governance (GCIG).

In Solving the International Internet Policy Coordination Problem, Nick Ashton-Hart explains how key global Internet-related policy discussions are being independently developed in global forums, by governments and stakeholders, generally with only ad-hoc inter-process coordination. With cyber security, human rights, law enforcement and economic discussions taking place in several hundred different places and processes, the complex environment is making it confusing for stakeholders and governments to resolve Internet-related policy issues in a holistic way.

Regarding cyber security alone, Ashton-Hart documents how more than 200 processes and mechanisms address online security issues, including literally dozens of international and UN-based processes and dozens more regional initiatives developing policies that impact all Internet users. He argues for holistic “light-touch” coordination that does not disturb or disrupt ongoing work, but does help each to leverage the strengths of the others to ensure results are sustainable. He proposes a potential solution model that is based upon elements of an existing global coordination system that handles complex humanitarian emergencies.

“Just as in the Internet policy space, the humanitarian community is composed of many UN agencies with different operational mandates and priorities, but also thousands of independent non-governmental actors,” says Ashton-Hart. “Ensuring that all can respond within their mandates and expertise quickly and in a way that minimizes duplication and gaps in coverage is literally a life-and-death matter.”

Ashton-Hart warns that “continuing to address Internet-related public policy in subject-area silos, independently developing and implementing policy with ad hoc efforts to coordinate related activities, would be a serious mistake.” He says, “at a practical level, there is a genuine and pressing need to address stakeholders’ calls for clarity on where to turn … in solving practical issues.” The proposed Coordination Committee could fill that void.

The GCIG is a two-year initiative launched by the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) and Chatham House. Chaired by former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt, the GCIG will produce a comprehensive stand on the future of multi-stakeholder Internet governance.

Solving the International Internet Policy Coordination Problem is No. 12 in the Global Commission on Internet Governance Paper Series. To access this paper, please visit: The opinions expressed in the report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of CIGI, Chatham House or the Global Commission on Internet Governance. For more information on the GCIG, including its twenty-nine commissioners and thirty-six research advisers, please visit: Follow the commission on Twitter @OurInternetGCIG.

About the Author:

Nick Ashton-Hart is the senior permanent representative of the technology sector to the United Nations, its member states and the international organizations in Geneva. He has participated in multilateral policy development since 1992, been an active part of the Geneva community for 14 years and a resident for the past eight. He came to international policy from private sector careers in both the entertainment and information and communications technology sectors. In the music industry, he managed some of the world’s most successful and influential artists, including the “Godfather of Soul,” James Brown. He is currently executive director of the Internet & Digital Ecosystem Alliance (IDEA), a Swiss NGO with the mission to ensure that for-profit and not-for profit Internet stakeholders have a voice in the multilateral policy community in Geneva.

The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) is an independent, non-partisan think tank on international governance. Led by experienced practitioners and distinguished academics, CIGI supports research, forms networks, advances policy debate and generates ideas for multilateral governance improvements. Conducting an active agenda of research, events and publications, CIGI’s interdisciplinary work includes collaboration with policy, business and academic communities around the world. CIGI was founded in 2001 by Jim Balsillie, then co-CEO of Research In Motion (BlackBerry), and collaborates with and gratefully acknowledges support from a number of strategic partners, in particular the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario. For more information, please visit
Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, is based in London. Chatham House’s mission is to be a world-leading source of independent analysis, informed debate and influential ideas on how to build a prosperous and secure world for all. The institute: engages governments, the private sector, civil society and its members in open debates and confidential discussions about significant developments in international affairs; produces independent and rigorous analysis of critical global, regional and country-specific challenges and opportunities; and offers new ideas to decision-makers and -shapers on how these could best be tackled from the near- to the long-term. For more information, please visit