[WG-Strategy] [At-Large] Seeking roll back of the IGF Leadership Panel

Carlos Afonso ca at cafonso.ca
Wed Nov 24 17:02:19 EST 2021


Careful and relevant considerations by Wolfgang.

A lot is still on the discussion table, regarding how this HL will work and relate to the overall IGF community. One option is to discard it, another is to keep it and make sure we participate in the process from the beginning.

[]s fraternos

--c.a.

On 24/11/2021 16:47, Wolfgang Kleinwächter wrote:
> Hi,
> 
> I disagree with the letter, signed by Parminder and Milton. I do not share their arguments. I believe, that Parminders and Miltons proposal, to "urge civil society and technical community, to refrain from sending any nominations for the IGF Leadership Panel" is very counterproductive, undermines the future role of the IGF and weakens civil society engagement in Internet related public policy making at the global level.
> 
> The IGF is indeed a unique experiment in the UN system. Its key purpose is to broaden the participatory base of digital policy making. Since 2006 it has enabled a broad variety of voices to be heard, including those voices otherwise marginalized.It was (and is) a kitchen to cook new ideas. Discussion without barriers. Bottom Up. This was the intention. It has worked, but it did have also its limits.
> 
> As a member of the UN Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG), which proposed the establishment of the IGF in 2005, I think we were very right to create the IGF as a "discussion plattform" (forum function) without any decision making capacity. The fear was, that if the IGF becomes a negotiation body, this will kill free and frank discussions. And indeed, the informal nature of the IGF did open "mouths and minds" of all stakeholders.
> 
> I was also a member of the UNCSTD IGF Improvement Working Group (2012). In this group we agreed that the IGF should continue as a discussion platform, but needs more tangible outputs.
> 
> The outcome of the IGF are its (sometimes controversial) "messages". There are no "IGF positions": some stakeholders say so, others say so. It is a bottom up process. And this is good for a discussion platform.,
> 
> However, the digital world has moved forward in the last 17 years. Internet Governance isn´t anymore a "technical issue with political implications", it is a "political issue with a technical component". For many Internet related public policy issues new bodies have been created outside the WSIS process and dislinked from the IGF. In the 2020s, there are more than a dozen global negotiation bodies where issues like cybersecurity, digital economy, sustainable development or human rights in the digital age are disucssed. Those issues are on the agenda of the IGF since its beginning. But the reality is, that the policy makers in the new negotiation bodies, which are primarily intergovernmental bodies, are in many cases not informed about the IGF discussions. They even have very often no clue what was discussed at the IGF. There is neither a formal nor an informal linkage between the "discussion layer" (the multistakeholder IGF) and the the "decision making layer" (new 
> intergovernmental negotiation bodies).
> 
> There is a need to bring the expertise, knowledge and ideas from the multistakeholder IGF to the intergovernmental negotiation table. And the IGF will benefit, if the diplomats report back - formally or informally - to the IGF sessions. The idea of the Multistakeholder Leadership Panel (MLP) is driven by this idea to build bridges.
> 
> The proposal for the Multistakeholder IGF Leadership Panel is the result of a years long multistakeholder discussion process, where all pros and cons of such a new unit were critically evaluated and considered by many different groups, including many civil society organisations. It was inspired by the UNCSTD work. It started with the UNSG High Level Panel on Digital Cooperation (2018). It was developed by the Option Paper 5A&B (2019) and further specified in the UNSG Roadmap (2020).
> 
> Risks, which were articulated in various statements of civil society organisations, that a new unit will emerge outside the IGF and could lead to a competitive situation, duplication or overlapping of functions, with the potential to weaken the IGF, has been heard by the UNSG. My understanding of the multistakeholder leadership panel - with its very limited mandate - is, that it is part of the general IGF structure and rooted in the (broader) MAG. It is like an executive committee for the MAG and will make the work of the whole MAG more efficent and effective.  It makes the IGF stronger, more visible on the international scene and will open the door for a more enhanced bottom up cooperation among all stakeholders in global Internet policy making.  It is an IGF+. Members of the new Panel will act as ambassadors between the discussion and decision-making layers. They are not the "new Internet policy makers", they function like a "post office", bringing the messages from the 
> multistakeholder IGF to the intergovernmental negotiation table and vice versa.
> 
> This is a unique opportunity for civil society. And civil society organisations, in particular from the Global South, should make use of it. Strong civil society representation in the multistakeholder leadership panel will contribute to build a human centric information society, based on the Civil Society WSIS Declaration (2003), the Tunis Agenda (2005) and the Multistakeholder NetMundial Statement (2014). And it will pave the way for a strong civil society voice in the process towards a "Global Digital Compact" (2023).
> 
> Best wishes
> 
> Wolfgang
> 
> Below are links to our "multistakeholder statement" for the Option Paper 5A&B (2020) and the outcome from a multistakeholder expert seminar (2021) where a lot of civil society organisations where represented.
> 
> https://circleid.com/posts/20210304-framing-the-internet-governance-debate-long-road-to-wsis-2025 <https://circleid.com/posts/20210304-framing-the-internet-governance-debate-long-road-to-wsis-2025>
> 
> https://circleid.com/posts/20200426-cross-pollination-in-cyberspace-internet-governance-spaghetti-ball <https://circleid.com/posts/20200426-cross-pollination-in-cyberspace-internet-governance-spaghetti-ball>
> 
> 
> 
>> parminder via At-Large <at-large at atlarge-lists.icann.org> hat am 24.11.2021 16:12 geschrieben:
>>
>>
>> Dear All,
>>
>> Please find enclosed a letter addressed to the UN Secretary General appealing to him to roll back the decision for an IGF Leadership Panel.
>>
>> The letter is co-signed by Dr Milton Mueller, on behalf  of the Internet Governance Project, Georgia Institute of Technology School of Public Policy, and Parmider Jeet Singh, for IT for Change, and the Just Net Coalition.
>>
>> It is cc-ed to representatives of civil society and technical community groups requesting them to refrain from sending nominations for the IGF Leadership Panel, and thus legitimizing it.
>>
>> The letter argues how the IGF Leadership Panel militates against the basic idea, objectives and structure of the IGF, and will weaken it.
>>
>> Best, parminder
>>
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-- 

Carlos A. Afonso
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