China on Wednesday called for the abolition of the UN’s Internet Governance Forum, blasting it as a powerless gathering where IT heavyweight countries dominate.
“Without any reforms to the IGF, it is not necessary to give it a five year extension,” Chen Yin, head of the Chinese delegation, told the forum’s fourth conference which wrapped up in the Egyptian resort of Sharm El-Sheikh.
Other participants including the United States, Japan and the European Union backed a extension of the IGF’s mandate.
The UN Secretary General will decide whether to grant the five-year extension after he receives written submissions from delegates.
Richard Beaird, US government representative, said the forum “has proven to be a valuable venue for information sharing and international dialogue.”
“The United States supports the continuation of the IGF beyond the initial five year mandate,” he told participants.
The European Union added its voice in support of an extension.
“The influence of the IGF on policy making by the European institutions is considerable. The IGF has delivered on all issues listed in its mandate,” Maria Hall, from the Swedish Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications, told delegates.
But China’s Chen said: “The IGF has a lot of duplication with what is being explored and studied in other organisations.”
He alleged that the forum’s development agenda has been given second priority after the demands of the world’s IT heavyweights.
China is among countries which have come under criticism for online censorship and investing in sophisticated technology to filter and monitor Internet activities.
During a visit to China, US President Barack Obama on Monday pushed for an unshackled Internet and expanded political freedoms.
“I have always been a strong supporter of open Internet use. I am a big supporter of non-censorship,” Obama said.
The IGF forum was set up after a World Summit on Information Society in Tunis in 2005 to bring together members of the global internet community to discuss the future of the Internet.
The Fifth Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum is scheduled to take place in Lithuania in 2010.