[discuss] What is MSism?

Anriette Esterhuysen anriette at apc.org
Thu Apr 17 15:47:42 UTC 2014

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Dear all

I have wanted to participate in this discussion, but have just not had
the time to do so, and still don't.  So just a quick response.

Very useful inputs Jeremy.

The history of  engagement around 'stakeholder participation' indeeds
predates the WSIS.

APC's own involvement in this dates back precisely to the first Earth
Summit in 1992 when we worked with the UN to facilitate participation of
civil society organisations and activists from around the world in the
process, using, in those days, bulletin boards and news groups, and
email. These early UN-based (and there are other) multi-stakeholder
processes were imperfect, but they evolved some worked better than
others. Some did not work well at all. But they are definitely part of
the terrain.  In South Africa prior and immediately after democracy was
established in 1994 we had a proliferation of multi-stakeholder policy
development processes. They were usually referred to as 'Forums' and
would consist of a group of people from NGOs, business, government,
political organisations, the labour movement and community groups as
well as subject experts, who worked together to draft policy, working
closely with the relevant ministry.  It worked well.. perhaps too well
in that it started a tradition of aspirational policies which the the
State lacks the capacity to implement - a condition that still persists
and that hampers development in South Africa.

My view has always been that we lost the plot when the terminology
shifted from 'multistakeholder participation' to 'multistakeholderism'.

But I recognise this view might not make sense to others.

To me once you add an 'ism' to a concept, it implies a degree of
systematisation and maturity - both lacking when considering the
participation of multiple stakeholders in internet governance on the one
hand, and, on the other,  actual policy making processes where different
stakeholder groups work together in making decisions, not just in being
involved in giving input on decision-making.

Agree with all Jeremy's observations below. Particularly those related
to power imbalances in MS processes.


On 17/04/2014 11:58, Jeremy Malcolm wrote:

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anriette esterhuysen anriette at apc.org
executive director, association for progressive communications
po box 29755, melville 2109
south africa
tel/fax +27 11 726 1692
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