[discuss] governments and rule of law (was: Possible approaches to solving...)

John Curran jcurran at istaff.org
Fri Feb 28 17:39:42 UTC 2014

On Feb 28, 2014, at 12:08 PM, Milton L Mueller <mueller at syr.edu> wrote:

> -----Original Message-----
>>  I guess what I am asking is whether you would accept a slight modification of
>>  your postulate to the following: "Until and unless the GAC ceases to provide 
>>  direct policy input to the Board and instead governmental participants involve 
>>  themselves directly in the policy development process on equal terms with all 
>>  other stakeholders, this problem will not be solved."  Do you believe to be 
>>  true, or is GAC elimination a necessary condition for structural or pragmatic
>>  reasons? 
> If the ICANN bylaws were modified to not privilege GAC advice, then the scenario you present would be an improvement, a small step forward. But it would not be my desired end state. 

Acknowledged... that is helpful to understanding your position.

> The problem is that putting all the governments in a room as "governments" with a single, national position is still creating a de facto intergovernmental organization, or at least strongly reinforcing the mindset and practices of an intergovernmental organization. 

I believe that this community having a place to liaison with governments regarding 
the Internet identifier system is quite useful, but would discourage such a group 
of government participants from developing "single, national positions" and instead 
encourage direct participation in the various policy development processes.

> Now if you don't think the Internet should be regulated by an intergovernmental organization (IGO), why are you creating an IGO-like environment? 

One would hope that the change proposed ("the GAC ceases to provide direct policy
input to the Board") would help avoiding an "IGO-like environment".

> Do you think governments can handle the gap that would be created between their expectations and traditions and the actual situation? In considering that question, imagine you are a mid-level policy guy from the country of Ruritania's Ministry of Communications. Ruritania gives you the ICANN portfolio and you go to its meeting in London. There you are presented with two ways to spend your time:
> 	a) huddle in a room with a bunch of other mid-level policy people from other governments, where the methods, procedures and attitudes are familiar and you know (sort of) what is going on because it resembles all the other IGOs you go to; or, 

They do "a)", and hear updates about the various policy development processes underway, 
the major issues being discussed, and hear how to submit your views/positions to those 
policy development processes.  You might even chat with other government peers about 
which ones they intend to participate in, and coordination of positions, etc.  All is
fine, as long as the input ends up in the normal policy development processes.

> 	b) venture forth into a GNSO meeting, where the methods are unfamiliar, you are of a different position and status than those business lobbyists, wild-eyed civil society advocates, etc., and you have to engage in discussions about issues with them - issues you are not all that expert in.

Indeed... quite daunting, but with education regarding how those processes work in 
the various policy/standards development orgs (given at the GAC by folks from the 
GNSO, RIRs, IETF, etc.) and introduction to the major discussions now underway, 
they at least have understanding to how (either directly or having other folks on 
their staff) to get engaged in all of the particular topics of interest.

> You seem to be suggesting that the Ruritanian Ministry of Communications guy will somehow manage to do both of these things. I am suggesting that they will, at best, do one of them, and are far more likely to make their life easy and do a) than b) 

I'm suggesting that they'd do the former, potentially go listen to policy discussions
later in the week for those topics of interest, and figure out whether to place one
or more submissions in the process, either singly or jointly with other governments.
That isn't necessarily jumping into the discussions taking place on the floor, but it
is a good start, and keeping with typical government engagement processes which often
start with written submissions of positions in any case.


Disclaimer: My views alone.

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