[discuss] [bestbits] Representative Multistakeholder model validity

michael gurstein gurstein at gmail.com
Sat Jan 18 22:26:35 UTC 2014



-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at 1net.org [mailto:discuss-bounces at 1net.org] On Behalf
Of Jeanette Hofmann
Sent: Saturday, January 18, 2014 1:51 PM
To: discuss at 1net.org
Subject: Re: [discuss] [bestbits] Representative Multistakeholder model


The concept of representation is usually linked to national democracies and
thus to a quantifiable number of voters. Even in this context,
representation is a contested issue since it is by no means clear how to
fairly represent the voters' opinions which might depend on context, change
of time etc. To date, there are so many different voting systems and not one
of them can claim to have found the ultimate solution to this vexed problem.
Each voting system privileges and disadvantages certain groups.

What is more, fair representation is just one issue. Another issue is to
create more or less stable majorities, select competent people etc.


[MG>] agreed


If the concept of representation has many issues on the national level, how
can we expect to create representative structures on the transnational
level? Under the circumstances of a global constituency representativeness
will remain a fiction!


[MG>] agreed although some measures in this direction certainly need to be


The open question to me is about functional equivalents to representation.
Representation is supposed to lend legitimacy to political processes. What
other mechanisms can create sufficient trust in the process so that people
who are not chosen for one of the committees still accept their existence,
processes and outcomes?


[MG>] you personalize this... These issues are not about individuals or
personalities but rather about deeper dare I say, "political" differences
and clashes of interests that need to be reconciled in order to move
forward.. Attempts to by-pass or cover these over or eliminate them through
various postures of avoidance simply allow them to fester and grow even more
powerful and destructive...


Transparency is an obvious source of legitimacy, so might be the reputation
of candidates (i.e. those known for being open-minded, constructive,
competent and able to take other opinions than their own on board. I am sure
we can come up with ways to integrate views and perspectives into the
process that ensure are broader range than those held by committee members.


[MG>] again you reduce this to "personalities" -- is there a specific reason
for doing so? Perhaps because it is easier to delegitimize/demonize an
individual than to respond to a clearly articulated political/interest


And why do you not include the obvious characteristics of fairness/natural
justice; evident lack of systematic bias; obvious attempts at broad based
inclusion (and not simply formalized identity based inclusion); and so on.
These would seem to be obvious and self-evident pre-conditions for a
legitimate process whatever methods of "representation" (or not) are
ultimately agreed upon.


In short, I think we should drop representativeness as a criteria of
legitimacy and focus on other means of creating legitimate processes.


[MG>] yes, as per the above.







Am 18.01.14 22:01, schrieb Norbert Bollow:

> John Curran < <mailto:jcurran at istaff.org> jcurran at istaff.org> wrote:


>> I understand how an _open_ multistakeholder approach allows for 

>> everyone (who wishes) to present their views on a given topic, have 

>> those views considered based on their merits, and allow all to ponder 

>> and revise their understanding based on the information exchanged.


>> I fail to understand how an _representative_ multistakeholder 

>> approach fairly provides for the "represented" to have their 

>> positions considered in a manner that allows for all participating to 

>> revise their views based on the discussion that occurs, and if this 

>> does not occur than one may argue that there isn't actual 

>> deliberative consideration going but simply a dance of posturing and 

>> negotiation.


> In my view, representative multistakeholder approaches are not about 

> creating a broad discourse, but about populating, in a reasonably fair 

> and balanced manner, committees and the like which for practical 

> reasons have only a quite limited number of seats.


> I posit that a reasonable way to implement a process for selecting 

> representatives is for each stakeholder category to organize a 

> randomly selected NomCom process, with each NomCom being tasked to 

> seek to choose a set of representatives who jointly represent the 

> breadth of perspectives of that stakeholder category as well as is 

> possible under the circumstances.


> Individuals who are close to one of the unavoidably fuzzy boundaries 

> between stakeholder categories would get to choose which one of the 

> stakeholder category that are on offer in that particular context fits 

> them best.


> I don't claim that this kind of approach would yield perfect 

> representation, but at least the imperfections would be random rather 

> than systematic, and any bias in the pool of people who tend to 

> volunteer for serving on NomComs can be addressed by the very 

> democratic process that anyone who is concerned about such bias is 

> free to seek to convince other qualified people (who don't have that 

> bias) to volunteer for future NomCom pools.


> Greetings,

> Norbert


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