Internet governance and the UN in a multiplex world order era?

Policy Brief
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FN  Cyber
Written by

Lars Gjesvik



Niels Nagelhus Schia

Seniorforsker, leder for Forskningsgruppen for sikkerhet og forsvar og leder for NUPIs forskningssenter for digitalisering og cybersikkerhet



Over the last two decades Internet Governance (IG) has emerged as an increasingly complex and fraught field of policymaking involving both states and non-state actors on a multitude of arenas. Facing this complex field, the role of the United Nations (UN) in IG has been both varying and contested. While the UN has been discussing issues related to IG since the 1990s, disagreements on both substantive issues and where discussions ought to take place have intermittently resurfaced and remained relevant, but recent processes and challenges to the status quo asks questions about the direction going forward. In the UN, recently established processes aims to revamp the approach to IG, while the negotiations over a cybercrime convention, and the 2022 ITU plenipotentiary have made the long running contests between western and authoritarian states over this topic more visible. Broader trends and rising tensions globally raises questions not only about the future for the global nature of IG and the role of the UN in this, but also whether decoupling and alliances with like-minded states might become more dominant than global multilateral and multi-stakeholder channels, i.e a trend pointing towards a multiplex field of internet governance.1