ICANN and CTU bring Caribbean voices to global Internet policy debate

Albert Daniels This could be the year to kick some Caribbean stereotypes to the curb. The region has been progressively piping up on the global stage, breaking long-held cultural paradigms in the process, in some unlikely ways. Across the Caribbean, the words “global Internet governance,” for example, are becoming a meaningful catchphrase for collective action through new channels of collaboration, as Caribbean states hammer out their own spaces to discuss their own technology development issues relevant to their national and regional agenda.

This type of discussion was once uncommon across the region. But that is now changing, according to Albert Daniels, Caribbean-area stakeholder engagement manager at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

St Lucian-born Daniels should know. Part of his job is to find ways to stimulate and harness this newfound energy for digital self-governance that is emerging in the sub-tropical region’s small-island states. In fact, ICANN is one of several international organisations now ramping up efforts to bring together a broad spectrum of Caribbean stakeholders from business, government, technical community and civil society to discuss issues related to Internet governance.

In February, Daniels co-led a vibrant multi-stakeholder discussion in Port-of-Spain, in which regional delegates dialogued about the steps required for Caribbean countries to establish an internet governance fora at the national level.

Alongside him were representatives from other major bodies in the regional technology space: Bevil Wooding, outreach manager, Packet Clearing House; Kevon Swift, external relations officer for the Caribbean, Latin America and Caribbean Network Information Centre (LACNIC); and Shernon Osepa, manager, regional affairs for Latin America and the Caribbean Bureau, Internet Society (ISOC).

“By having these national discussions involving all of the stakeholders, you then have a basis for forming national positions, which can then feed into the global debate and global policy development. This is a concept that ICANN has been discussing for a long time,” Daniels said.

The session was part of a week-long conference formally commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU). Hundreds of delegates gathered for the high-profile event in Port-of-Spain from February 2-6, among them Caribbean government ministers, regional regulators and policy makers, senior private sector officials, academic researchers and international technical experts.

Other organisations represented among the speakers and delegates included Caricom, the Commonwealth Telecommunication Organisation, the American Registry of Internet Numbers, the International Telecommunication Union, Congress WBN, the University of the West Indies and the World Bank.

Bernadette Lewis, secretary general of the CTU, described the 25th anniversary ICT Week as “a culmination of several months of activities celebrating the organisation’s achievements and ongoing work in the region.”

Daniels praised “all the work that has been done over the last 25 years by the CTU, and by the secretary general and her team, in particular.”

ICANN and the CTU have partnered in a number of areas, such as the establishment of critical Internet infrastructure, and supporting the transition to the the next generation of Internet Protocol.

“ICANN’s most recent initiative to establish the national-level Internet governance fora is a tip of the hat to the CTU, which has “the longest standing regional Internet Governance Forum, and was the first globally to have an Internet Governance Forum at the regional level,” Daniels said.

“ICANN continues to look forward to collaborating with the CTU and with other partners.”

This article was originally published on Trinidad and Tobago Guardian.