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No. 36 Who governs the internet – how people can have a voice

Andrew Puddephatt
Global Partners

Workshop

Theme

Enhanced Cooperation

Debates about internet governance are coming to head in the next two years through the WSIS plus 10 process. There are fierce disagreements between states about whether, or how, the internet should be governed. This multi-stakeholder discussion will present outputs from a civil society network, Best Bits, that has brainstormed ideas for effective multi-stakeholder working arrangements that allow different stakeholders, governments, business and civil society, to take an appropriate role in the future of Internet governance.

The context of these discussions is well known: present Internet governance arrangements are a conglomeration of overlapping rules, norms, standards and processes at various levels, that are coordinated only loosely if at all.  Some actors are served well by these arrangements, but others feel they are less well served.  The latter include developing country governments who complain that one country has a disproportionate level of control over critical Internet resources, and civil society stakeholders who see powerful governments and transnational corporations writing their own rules without paying sufficient attention to their human rights impacts.  For some governments, traditional intergovernmental arrangements such as those of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) are seen as more inclusive of excluded voices than the status quo, whereas most other stakeholders disagree due to perceived deficiencies of the ITU's observance of the multi-stakeholder governance principles agreed in the Tunis Agenda.

Calls have therefore emerged for a third way, that would realign the roles of the stakeholders in Internet governance, in fulfilment of the Tunis Agenda's call for a process towards enhanced cooperation on Internet policy issues.  There is less agreement, however, over how this should be carried out in a way that all stakeholders might be able to accept.  Accordingly in May this year a multi-stakeholder Working Group on Enhanced Cooperation of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) met for the first time to develop a set of recommendations on how to fully implement that mandate.  Through the course of the year, the Best Bits group will be working alongside the civil society representatives of the CSTD Working Group to develop its own recommendations on behalf of a broad cross-section of civil society groups from across global North and South.  This session will provide an opportunity for those recommendations to be presented to other stakeholders from the IGF community.

Amongst the questions to be debated at the session are: Where are existing Internet governance arrangements failing, and whom are they failing the most? Is effective multi-stakeholder policy making possible where issues are fiercely contested? How can the IGF evolve and be strengthened? What improvements could be made to these arrangements without setting the scene for an intergovernmental takeover of the Internet? How can the suggestions of the Best Bits group be taken forward (e.g. as appropriate within the CSTD Working Group, the MAG, the UN General Assembly, etc.)?

Has the proponent organised a workshop with a similar subject during past IGF meetings?

No

Background Paper

Download Background Paper

Session Type

Roundtable

Organisation

Co-organisers

Ms. Jeremy Malcom, Consumers International, Civil Society, MALAYSIA, Asia-Pacific Group

Have the Proponent or any of the co-organisers organised an IGF workshop before?

Yes

The link(s) to the workshop report(s)

http://wsms1.intgovforum.org/content/no57-broadband-access-and-consumer-rights

Panellists and Moderator

Invited panellists, individuals and organisations

= panellist or organisation has been confirmed

Please clock on Biography to view the biography of panelllist

Joy Liddicoat, APC, Female, Civil Society, NEW ZEALAND, Asia-Pacific Group

Parminder Jeet Singh, IT for Change, Male, Civil Society, INDIA, Asia-Pacific Group

Baher Esmat, Male, Civil Society, EGYPT, Western Europe and Others Group - WEOG

Ellen Blackler, Female, Private Sector, UNITED STATES, Western Europe and Others Group - WEOG

Alexandre Fontenelle, Male, Government, BRAZIL, Latin American and Caribbean Group - GRULAC

Grace Githaiga, Female, Civil Society, KENYA, African Group

Moderator

Jeremy Malcolm

Remote Moderator

Andrew Puddephatt

Agenda

The agenda will focus on a number of key questions:
Where are existing Internet governance arrangements failing, and whom are they failing the most?
Is effective multi-stakeholder policy making possible where issues are fiercely contested?
Can the IGF evolve and be strengthened?
What improvements could be made to these arrangements without setting the scene for an intergovernmental takeover of the Internet?

Inclusiveness of the Session

The session will have an outcome orientation.  It will begin with short presentations from the civil society panelists, who are participants in the Best Bits network as well as being representatives on the CSTD Working Group on Enhanced Cooperation, presenting the outputs that were concluded at the Best Bits meeting earlier in the week. The other panelists, also be members of the Working Group, will follow with their feedback on these outputs.  The workshop will then turn to the audience, with the moderator seeking to elicit further specific suggestions for the improvement of the outputs, with the aim of moving towards a broader multi-stakeholder rough consensus.  The moderator will record the areas of consensus and disagreement before the close of the workshop and the workshop will close with a brief discussion of the way forward.

Suitability for Remote Participation

The Best Bits meeting that precedes this workshop will utilise a dedicated website at http://bestbits.net, which is currently undergoing further development.  When complete it will provide an online nexux for the event that allows for the sharing of briefing papers and reports, independent video streaming and chat, social media aggregation and other functions.  The website will also be used a resource for the Best Bits workshops at the IGF.

Questions or Comments

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