[discuss] [bestbits] Representative Multistakeholder model validity

Mawaki Chango kichango at gmail.com
Sun Jan 19 16:15:59 UTC 2014

Hi Jeanette,

On Sun, Jan 19, 2014 at 2:31 PM, Jeanette Hofmann <jeanette at wzb.eu> wrote:

> relatively good representation relative to what?

Again, we agree that there is no perfect formula for representation,
particularly not in a global space like this one. So when I say relative,
it is another way of saying contextual. So yes, it may be relative to
people who "speak out" or, as I would put it, relative to people who pay
the price of engaging (there is nothing wrong with that as long it is not
meant to be an exclusionary criterion); or it could be relative to, say,
IGC, if it is IGC making the nomination, etc. That's precisely why I have
no problem with what you say in the rest of your mail because, really, all
what we're doing is handing over a slate of nominees from within a given
group or set of groups to any relevant entity that makes the request (or is
conducting the appointment process at hand.) I see no basis for anyone to
ever say, no other group can do the same while claiming to be part of the
same stakeholder group (in this case, civil society.) Because, as you
rightly point out, no one here has, nor can claim to have, mandate for
universal representation. In the end, it will be the responsibility of the
appointing entity/authority to pick from all the nominees handed to it from
all the sources.

I think one aspect of the problem here is that the relevant BR committee
has decided to give up that responsibility to 1Net which is not really
designed to assume the role of selecting final appointees from various
sources within same stakeholder group.

Also, all things being otherwise equal (eg, noting consensus, rough
consensus or any manner of acceptable decisions may be made to give more
weight to certain criteria over others depending on what is to be achieved
by the final appointees for a given assignment), relative in my mind means
it is better NOT to have than to have the following situations (to quote
from Norbert's message I was referring to):

1) all five business representatives on the /1net Steering Committee are
Americans working for US companies

2) not even one of the three civil society representatives on the “high
level” committee for the São Paulo meeting is from a developing country

3) the “community informatics” community, which has aspects both of
civil society and of academia, is soundly rebuffed from being integrated
into either the “civil society” or the “academic” nomination process

As I am sure there are people from non-US companies, people from developing
countries and people from the “community informatics” community
participating ("speaking out") on the issues at hand in their respective or
in relevant spaces.

To conclude: Yes it is not about universal or perfect representation, which
impossible particularly in a global policy space. However we can avoid the
kind of contentious debate that has been sparked by the latest nomination
spree by advertising the process to all relevant audiences we may think of;
having well-defined and beforehand agreed upon processes for making such
nominations, including that of the NomCom (and we did have one within IGC,
maybe we just need to come up with an addendum stating clearly what would
need to be done in case there's not enough time to conduct the full-fledged
process); and not worrying about whether there is someone else claiming to
nominate candidates as part of the CS stakeholder group and leaving it to
the appointing authority to sort out.

Sorry for the length of my response but I hope it helps clarify (without
trying to strive to perfection.) With that, I too wish to rest my case.


> All definitions of internet governance I am aware of are broad and fuzzy,
> perhaps rightly so. Now, how can we possibly map the global interests in
> these matters as a basis for assessing the quality of representation? I
> think this is impossible to do.
> My guess is we can only measure representation relative to those people
> who speak up on any of the mailing lists revolving around IG themes.
> As far as I remember the IGC members have always been painfully aware that
> the IGC at least is by no means representative of anyone and anything which
> is why we never claimed the right to select the list of civil society
> candidates for the MAG. We always knew that there are most likely other
> groups out there who might also have good reasons to nominate people for
> the MAG and are not even aware of our existence! Same thing can be said
> about bestbits, which has roughly the same subscribers to begin with as
> Nenna found out.
> So I say this one more time before I shut up on this issue:
> representativeness is no category that can be sufficiently operationalized
> in a transnational or global context.
> jeanette
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