UN Secretary-General Appoints Gbenga Sesan, 9 Others to Serve on Inaugural IGF Leadership Panel

Mr. Gbenga Sesan, Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative

The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has appointed Mr. Gbenga Sesan, Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative and nine other high-level and eminent persons to serve on his inaugural Internet Governance Forum (IGF) Leadership Panel.

The Secretary-General established the Panel as a strategic, empowered, and multistakeholder body to support and strengthen the IGF, in line with the mandate of the IGF and as recommended in the Secretary-General’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation.

The mandate of the Panel is to address strategic and urgent issues and highlight Forum discussions and possible follow-up actions, in order to promote greater impact and dissemination of IGF discussions according to its Terms of Reference.

The appointment of the 10 distinguished members of the Panel followed the Secretary-General’s open call for nominations, and in line with an equitably distributed, multistakeholder configuration of ministerial-level Government representatives, executive-level representatives of the private sector, civil society and the technical community, as well as “at-large” prominent persons in the field of digital policy.

In addition, the Panel 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; and the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Technology.

Chosen from all regions of the world and serving a two-year term during the 2022–23 IGF cycles, the members of the inaugural Panel is as follows: 

  • Mr. ‘Gbenga Sesan, Nigeria
  • Mr. Vint Cerf, United States of America
  • Mr. Hatem Dowidar, Egypt
  • Ms. Lise Fuhr, Denmark
  • Ms. Maria Fernanda Garza, Mexico
  • Mr. Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Estonia
  • Ms.  Maria Ressa, Philippines and United States of America
  • H.E. Mr. Alkesh Kumar Sharma, India
  • H.E. Ms. Karoline Edtstadler, Austria
  • Mr. Lan Xue, China

Ex-officio Members

  • H.E. Mrs. Huria Ali Mahdi, IGF 2022 Host Country (Ethiopia)
  • H.E. Mr. Yuji Sasaki, IGF 2023 Host Country (Japan)
  • H.E. Mr. Krzysztof Szubert, IGF 2021 Host Country (Poland)
  • Mr. Paul Mitchell, Chair of the IGF Multistakeholder Advisory Group
  • Mr. Amandeep Singh Gill, Secretary-General’s Envoy on Technology

The full biographies of the Leadership Panel members are available on the IGF website while further details on the functioning of the Panel can be found in its Terms of Reference

The IGF is an outcome of the Tunis phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) that took place in 2005. In the Tunis Agenda, Governments asked the Secretary-General to convene a “new forum for policy dialogue” to discuss issues related to key elements of Internet governance. The mandate of the Forum was extended for another 10 years in December 2015, during the high-level meeting of the General Assembly on the overall review of the implementation of the World Summit on the Information Society outcomes. The 17th edition of the Forum will take place from November 28 to December 2, 2022, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.