UN Affairs

UN Chief Picks Top Dogs for First Internet Pow Wow – Time to Kick Some Butt!

Ten distinguished persons hailing from all regions of the globe have been appointed to serve on the Secretary-General’s inaugural Internet Governance Forum (IGF) Leadership Panel, the United Nations announced on Tuesday. 

UN chief António Guterres established the Panel to support and strengthen the IGF, an annual meeting to discuss public policy issues pertaining to the Internet.  

Panel members will address strategic and urgent issues and highlight Forum discussions, as well as possible follow-up actions, to promote greater impact and dissemination of IGF discussions, according to its Terms of Reference. 

They were appointed by the Secretary-General following an open call for nominations, and in line with “an equitably distributed, multistakeholder configuration” of representatives from Government, the private sector, civil society and the technical community, as well as prominent persons in the field of digital policy. 

Two-year term 

The members of the Leadership Panel are Mr. Vint Cerf from the United States, Mr. Hatem Dowidar from Egypt, Ms. Lise Fuhr from Denmark, Ms. Maria Fernanda Garza from Mexico, Mr. Toomas Hendrik Ilves from Estonia, Ms. Maria Ressa from the Philippines and the USA,  Mr. Alkesh Kumar Sharma from India, Ms. Karoline Edtstadler from Austria, Mr. ‘Gbenga Sesan from Nigeria, and Mr. Lan Xue from China. 

They will serve for a two-year term during the 2022–23 IGF cycles. 

The Panel also consists of five ex-officio members: senior representatives of the current, immediately previous, and immediately upcoming IGF host countries; the Chair of the Forum’s Multistakeholder Advisory Group, as well as the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Technology, Mr. Amandeep Singh Gill. 

Besides the UN Envoy, the other ex-officio members are Mrs. Huria Ali Mahdi from Ethiopia, host of this year’s IGF;  Mr. Yuji Sasaki from Japan, where the 2023 Forum will be held; Mr. Krzysztof Szubert of Poland, the 2021 host country, and Mr. Paul Mitchell, the Multistakeholder Advisory Group chair. 

About the IGF

The Internet Governance Forum is an outcome of the Tunis phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WISS) that took place in 2005. The first phase was held in Geneva in December 2003. 

In the Tunis Agenda, Governments asked the UN Secretary-General to convene a “new forum for policy dialogue” to discuss issues related to key elements of Internet governance.  

The Forum’s mandate was extended for another 10 years in December 2015, during the high-level meeting of the UN General Assembly on the overall review of the implementation of WISS outcomes.  

The 17th edition of the IGF will be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 28 November to 2 December.  



  1. In my opinion, the appointment of the inaugural Internet Governance Forum (IGF) Leadership Panel by the UN chief is a positive step towards strengthening global collaboration on addressing public policy issues related to the Internet. It’s crucial to have a diverse group of experts from different regions and backgrounds to ensure a comprehensive discussion and effective follow-up actions for promoting digital policy worldwide.

  2. How will the Leadership Panel ensure that the views and concerns of all stakeholders, including those from marginalized communities, are fully represented in the IGF discussions?

    1. To address the inclusivity concerns raised, the Leadership Panel must proactively engage with diverse stakeholders, actively seek input from marginalized communities, and prioritize creating a safe space for all voices to be heard during IGF discussions.

  3. Who will be the chairperson of this Leadership Panel? Will they rotate the position among the members or appoint one permanently?

    1. Given the diverse representation on the Panel, it’s likely they will rotate the chairperson position to ensure fair decision-making and inclusive leadership.

  4. As a digital policy enthusiast, I am thrilled to see such a diverse and talented group being appointed to the IGF Leadership Panel. It’s crucial to have representatives from various backgrounds to address the complex issues surrounding Internet governance. Looking forward to their contributions and the impact they will make in shaping the future of online policies.

  5. As a tech enthusiast, I’m thrilled to see such a diverse and accomplished group leading the way in Internet governance. It’s crucial to have representatives from different regions and sectors for a well-rounded perspective on digital policy issues.

  6. As a digital policy enthusiast, I believe the appointment of such a diverse and experienced panel is a great step towards ensuring comprehensive discussions and effective actions to address Internet governance issues. Excited to see the impact they will make!

  7. It’s great to see a diverse and global team coming together to address crucial issues in internet governance. I hope their discussions lead to concrete actions that benefit all users worldwide.

  8. Ms. Maria Fernanda Garza from Mexico is a great choice for the IGF Leadership Panel. Her vast experience and expertise in digital policy will surely contribute to pushing forward important discussions and actions in the realm of Internet governance. Excited to see the impact she will have during her two-year term!

  9. I believe that the appointment of such diverse and experienced individuals to the Secretary-General’s Internet Governance Forum Leadership Panel is a positive step towards strengthening the global discussion on Internet policy. It’s crucial for representatives from different sectors and regions to come together to address urgent issues and ensure the impact and dissemination of discussions are maximized. Looking forward to seeing the contributions of Mr. Vint Cerf, Ms. Lise Fuhr, Ms. Maria Fernanda Garza, and the rest of the panel members in shaping the future of digital policy.

  10. Who will be moderating the discussions during the annual Internet Governance Forum meetings?

  11. I believe the selection of the Leadership Panel members by the UN Chief is a crucial step in ensuring diverse and informed discussions on Internet governance. It is essential for this panel to address pressing issues and drive impactful outcomes to advance digital policy worldwide.

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