[discuss] [governance] FW: FW: Towards an Internet Social Forum

"Kleinwächter, Wolfgang" wolfgang.kleinwaechter at medienkomm.uni-halle.de
Sat Jan 31 13:02:32 UTC 2015

I responded on this to Wolfgang (whose response BTW I still await). 

Sorry for the late reply. And thanks Parminder (and Norbert) for the clarification with regard to the new ISF. Here are some comments:

1. The multistakeholder approach is a two layer approach where each stakholder has (on the lower layer) its own mechanisms to develop positions to various issues and where on the higher layer the various stakeholders communicate, coordinate and collaborate together to find solutions to common problems on the basis of what in the Internet world is called "rough consensus". If one stakeholder group disagrees there is no rough consensus. Insofar, I see no basic conflicts between the idea of an ISF and the IGF. ISF is one-stakeholder. IGF is multi-stakeholder. Welcome. 

2. For civil society - probably the weakest partner in a full multistakeholder mechanism - it would be good to speak with one voice. This enhances to chances not only to be heard but also to participate in decision making. We learned this lesson during WSIS I. The Geneva CS WSIS declaration opened the door for participation of CS (on equal footing) both in the WGIG and later in the IGF. This was an achievement and neither a "natural" development nor a present by the other stakeholders. A key role played the Interrnet Governance Caucus (IGC), established in June 2003. The IGC played a primary role in globale IG policy making until 2007 or 2008. Over the last couple of years the IGC became - unfortunately - a platform where disagreemet dominated and the readiness to find internal "rough consensus" among the various wings within the CS stakeholder groups became nearly impossible. This resulted in a dramtic declining of the influence of the IGC into multistakeholder processes and the ermegence of other CS IG Networks - from Best Bits to the Just Net Coalition. The diversity is not a bad thing. But if such a diversity ends in "infighting" (remember the unbelievable shouting during the IGC Meeting in Bali) the risk is high, that the CS as a whole looses a lot of credibility and weakens its opportunities to participate meaningful at the higher multistakeholder level. All (limited) energies and resources are wasted in fighting each other, nothing remains to made a construtive input into the broader processes of the higher level of multistakehoder policy development.  

3. In my eyes the CSCG - which did build an umbrella above six CS IG Networks - was the best what could happen after the split (which started already in Nairobi and continued in Baku). It allowed the various wings to stick to their - sometimes excentric - positions, but it also allowed the start of processes - on a case by case basis - where the various competing groups did find common language around concrete issues. But even this collapsed in the preparatory discussion for the NMI. 

4. To have the WSF as an umbrella organisation for the planned ISF is not a bad idea (do you have a charter or an MoU about the formalities of the relationship?). The objectives of the WSF are core objectives of the global civil society and they are relevant also for the Internet which includes efforts to bridge the digital divide, to promote human rights, to reduce and overcome social and economic injustice and to promote access to the Internet. If the ISF can make here a meaningful contribution, this is welcome. However as it looks at this moment, the ISF does not build bridges among the various wings of CS IG Groups, it deepends the split. This weakens CS and is not needed.

5. I do not see that the ISF is the counterinitiative to the NMI. ISF is one-stakeholder, NMI is multi-stakeholder. Two different shoes. The NMI brings together all four stakeholder groups on equal footing and a high level. Based on the Sao Paulo Declaration this is a stumbling step forward into a new territory of a multistakeholder policy development which offers new opportunities which has to be tested out. It is a challenge for civil society to bring its key positions to this process. 


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