[discuss] NETmundial and CSTD mtg

Norbert Bollow nb at bollow.ch
Sun May 18 10:04:42 UTC 2014

Harry Halpin <hhalpin at w3.org> wrote:

> However, let's face the facts:
> One set of meetings (NetMundial, as well as various multi-stakeholder
> internet governance bodies) are open to the public and anyone can get
> involved. The other (CSTD) is done behind closed doors

That has been partly true for the very first meeting of the CSTD
Working Group, where the attempt to attend as an observer involved a
significant amount of waiting on the outside of a closed door. After
some hours I took a photo of that closed door, which I would have
published if the decision to open the meeting to observers had not
eventually been reached.

Eventually the CSTD Working-Group spawned an absolutely open
“correspondence group” for work between the formal in-person WG
meetings. Participation in that “correspondence group” was absolutely
open to everyone who knew about it and wanted to join it.

> and only nation-level "representatives" can participate.

That was never actually true for the CSTD Working Group, which had a
multistakeholder composition from the beginning.

I agree that there are reasons why the CSTD Working-Group failed to
reach worthwhile results, but lack of multistakeholder composition was
not among those reasons. Multistakeholder participation in a group or
process is not some kind of magic that would by itself guarantee that a
good outcome is achieved.

By the way, among those who were waiting on the outside of that
closed door on the first day of the CSTD WG, I may have been the only
civil society person. The others who were waiting there, as far as I
recall talking with them, were nation-level government representatives.

> In an era in which
> national governments have for the most part lost the legitimacy from
> their populations, I'd take multi-stakeholder processes.

In my view, to the extent that national governments have indeed “lost
the legitimacy from their populations”, that itself is an absolutely
important governance problem which needs to be solved urgently.

I don't accept it as justification for attempting to build the future
of governance in a way that does not involve governments in a
significant and direct manner in relation to to the particular
functions that governments play in democratic societies. 

Maybe there is a need to establish a standard of democratic legitimacy
that we would insist that governments must satisfy before we take them
serious in the context of the global Internet governance discourse.

> There is still room for getting more ordinary people involved in
> multi-stakeholder processes, but at least that is in theory possible
> in a multi-stakeholder process. That will require real organizational
> work.

I fully agree.

> That being said, I'd rather focus on that than this mailing
> list, so signing off for now.

Good luck for your work, and if you publish a blog or something about
that work, I'll appreciate a pointer.


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