[discuss] Criteria for Internet Governance (was) Re: List announcement "robust governance in the digital age"

Adam Peake ajp at glocom.ac.jp
Mon Feb 10 12:45:43 UTC 2014

Hi Michel,

On Feb 10, 2014, at 8:29 PM, Michel Gauthier wrote:

> David,
> I am interested in an off-topic issue which is how to be make any online supported MS process inherently robust. The ICANN process is a pionneer among the many processes to consider. It may turn to be helpful as good example. In this case you will be conforted. It may also turn to be helpful as a bad example. In that case you will know better how to confort it.

How is this an off-topic issue?   I think you have given us a good example of the type of issue we should be discussing, a good fit with the Brazil issues of the evolving multistakeholder Internet governance ecosystem and principles.  Example, a few people on a civil society mailing list produced a draft "Internet Governance: proposals for reform" (attached) which includes a section "Criteria for Internet Governance".  Quoting at length:

"The aim was to find criteria that could apply to any system of international governance rather than looking for criteria that only applied to the internet - in order to avoid the pitfalls of 'internet exceptionalism'. Rather, in a globalised world, where there are generally very weak lines of accountability between a government's positions on the international stage and its electorate back at home, open international spaces with broad-based participation can be important opportunities for bringing international decisions much closer to citizens across the world. In this context, the group found that the international IG regime, if developed appropriately, could have implications for wider international governance systems (beyond the Internet). The group recognised that these criteria are aspirational and that any proposed reform would probably not meet all the criteria. Nonetheless it was found that they provide a useful framework for assessing any proposed changes. 
The following mutually-supporting criteria were found necessary for the governance of complex global phenomena: 
a) Processes 
- Transparent and comprehensible: it should be possible for anyone to understand how it works and how things happen/decisions are made; 
- Accountable: internal and external accountability process should exist, including a way of challenging decisions; 
- Effective: in that it can deliver whatever it is meant to deliver 
- Adaptable: so that it can take account of new innovations and developments in the field. 

b) Participation 
- Inclusive and open: not be a small exclusive club, but open to many. 
- All necessary points of view are included in order to arrive at good decisions/agreements 
- Possessing the necessary expertise to make informed decisions 
- Meaningful participation: anybody affected by decision should be able to impact upon decision-making processes. The group recognised that this would likely involve mechanisms for consensus based decision making. But where consensus was not possible there may need to be alternative supplementary frameworks, such as decision-making by majority vote.   

c) Underlying Values 
- Human rights values should be at the core of any governance process and outcomes. 
- Driven by global public interest (motivated by an understanding of the internet as a global public good)."

(note, this from a first draft of a report). 

If you agree these criteria are a useful starting point (and perhaps they can be improved), getting back to your point, how might we assess various MS processes against them?  The example of ICANN, as you say, on the one hand looks pretty good, but also needs to improve.  And for improvements the question could be how, what changes should the organization make to better meet the criteria?



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> This list is about a particular case, in a given context, with identified people and structures, and a precise task. The other list is about a general case, in an undefined contexte, with non identified people and structures, and an undefined task. It seems that your concern is like saying why not also discuss oceans when discussing my way to drink my glass of water.
> Or is it that your experience of ICANN let you suspect that ICANN violates some of the rules for a robust governance in the digital age? In that case everyone should be happy because we would "scientifically" know how to make ICANN work better (I accept that it would be to the detriment of the status-quo). So, unless your priority is such a status-quo, what do you fear? No one should be on that new list to defend a position, everyone should be there to explore and research for the common good.
> M G

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