Global Digital Governance & Cooperation
Role of IGF
United Nations University - CRIS
Nadia Tjahja, UNU-CRIS, IGO, WEOG Dr. Hortense Jongen, VU Amsterdam and University of Gothenburg, Academia, WEOG Sophie Hoogenboom, VUB, Academia, WEOG
- Dr Hortense Jongen, VU Amsterdam and University of Gothenburg, Academia, WEOG
- Dr Corinne Cath, University of Amsterdam, Academia, WEOG
- Nadia Tjahja, UNU-CRIS, IGO, WEOG
- Jordan Carter, auDA, Technical Community, WEOG
- Elise Lindeberg, Norway, Government, WEOG
- Alisa Heaver, Netherlands, Government, WEOG
Targets: The purpose of this Launches and Awards session is to share with the Internet governance community our research results. We also aim to facilitate an open discussion with stakeholders at all levels to discuss how these research findings are practically relevant and can inform future discussions about Internet governance and multistakeholderism. Our work touches upon multiple Sustainable Development Goals, as it offers important insights into how multistakeholder global governance can take shape and promote inclusive participation from stakeholders. The need for meaningful participation from diverse stakeholders has been underscored with reference to multiple SDG targets. Hence, the discussions in this session are not only relevant for the global Internet community, but also for other policy areas that aim to develop policies through the multistakeholder approach.
The session will start with three short presentations in which the researchers will present the latest findings of their research on legitimacy and participation in multistakeholder initiatives (3 x 5 minutes). This will be followed with an interview-style discussion in which the researchers comment on each other's work and engage with questions from the audience.
Legitimacy of multistakeholderism in Internet Governance spaces: ICANN, IETF, IGF In recent years, the importance of the multistakeholder approach to Internet governance has been underscored on multiple occasions. Examples include the Roadmap for Digital Cooperation, The Age of Digital Interdependence, Our Common Agenda and the consultations on the Global Digital Compact. These strategic documents emphasise the desire for a multistakeholder environment that focuses on cooperation and meaningful participation of stakeholders. Meaningful participation and legitimacy are widely considered crucial for the multistakeholder approach to work. Yet, how much legitimacy have different multistakeholder bodies been able to attract? And to what extent have these governance arrangements been able to facilitate and promote participation from different stakeholders and social groups? This session aims to reflect on these questions by bringing together three young academic researchers. During this session, these three scholars will present the latest findings of their empirical research on legitimacy and participation in three key multistakeholder initiatives: ICANN, the IETF, and the IGF. Each of these scholars takes a distinctive focus in their research: Dr Corinne Cath (University of Amsterdam) has investigated exclusionary cultures at the IETF, Dr Hortense Jongen (Free University of Amsterdam and University of Gothenburg) has researched questions of legitimacy at ICANN, and Nadia Tjahja (Free University Brussels and United Nations University-CRIS) has looked at youth meta-participation at the IGF. Their research offers important insights into stakeholder participation in Internet governance institutions and approaches as well as challenges to meaningful participation in these bodies. After three short 5 min presentations of their work, an interview-style discussion will be held in which questions are addressed on how to foster engagement and encourage inclusion and legitimacy in these three institutions. This discussion will also address the relevance of academic contributions, such as empirical research on multistakeholder initiatives, to policy discussions. The floor will subsequently be opened to the audience to ask questions about the research as well as to share insights from their own research and experiences. The discussion will engage with the following policy questions: A. How can multistakeholder initiatives promote meaningful participation from diverse stakeholders and social groups? B. What is the relationship between inclusive participation and the legitimacy of multistakeholder initiatives? C. What lessons for other multistakeholder bodies can we draw from the different ways in which the three multistakeholder bodies at the focus of this session (i.e. ICANN, the IETF and the IGF) aim to promote participation? ICANN - Dr Hortense Jongen https://brill.com/view/journals/gg/27/2/article-p298_7.xml https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/13540661221098218 IETF - Dr Corinne Cath https://www.criticalinfralab.net/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/LoudMen-Cor… IGF - Nadia Tjahja https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308596121000458 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308596122001124 https://cris.unu.edu/multistakeholder-participation-igf https://cris.unu.edu/youth-participation-internet-governance-forum
After a short presentation from each of the speakers, the onsite moderator will be asking interview questions and guiding speakers to answer them. Using Slido, we will be collecting questions from online and onsite audiences, where the audience can upvote questions and speakers will answer in order of popularity. Both online and onsite moderators will be monitoring their respective rooms and will welcome comments from the online and onsite audiences to bring in different ideas and perspectives.
Knowing what levels of legitimacy beliefs prevail in which quarters- and what kinds of forces shape those legitimacy beliefs- can contribute to more informed and nuanced policymaking.
The openness of the multistakeholder model is integral to the success of the Internet.
There is a need to determine the boundaries of Internet Governance and reflect upon the potential need to create new multistakeholder processes to deal with aspects of the digital sphere that fall outside of the scope of Internet Governance to ensure and maintain the legitimacy of current frameworks.
It is crucial to ensure the openness of spaces of Internet Governance by bridging the gap between procedural openness and unwelcoming cultures in practice.
IGF 2023 Launch/Award Event 88 Legitimacy of multistakeholderism in IG spaces
Rapporteur: Sophie Hoogeboom
Speakers: Dr. Hortense Jongen, VU Amsterdam and University of Gothenburg, Dr. Corinne Cath, University of Amsterdam, Nadia Tjahja, United Nations University- CRIS.
Discussants: Jordan Carter, auDA, Elise Lindeberg, Government of Norway, Alisa Heaver, Government of The Netherlands
The session held on the 9th of October at 09:30 discussed the legitimacy of multistakeholderism in Internet Governance spaces: ICANN, IETF and the IGF. The importance of multistakeholderism continues to be highlighted in policy circles in which legitimacy and meaningful participation of stakeholders is emphasised as vital components needed for a functioning multistakeholder environment. During this session, three scholars presented their publications. After this, the discussants of the session provided comments and feedback centred around three questions:
(1) How can multistakeholder initiatives promote meaningful participation from diverse stakeholders and social groups? (2) What is the relationship between inclusive participation and the legitimacy of multistakeholder initiatives? (3) What lessons for other multistakeholder bodies can we draw from the different ways in which the three multistakeholder bodies at the focus of this session (e.g. ICANN, the IETF and the IGF) aim to promote participation?
Dr. Hortense Jongen discussed her publication on the legitimacy of ICANN which is part of a larger research project done in cooperation with Professor Jan Aart Scholte that focuses on the levels, drivers and implications of legitimacy. The research is centred around the question: of how far, and on what grounds, does multistakeholderism as a mode of global governance gains legitimacy? As it aims to measure the levels of legitimacy beliefs toward a key multistakeholder apparatus, in this case ICANN, and to identify what generates (or limits) those beliefs. During a period of two years (2018-2019) hundreds of surveys interviews were conducted with insiders, participants and general elites in the world. The key findings of this research showed that ‘legitimacy beliefs are neither so high as to warrant complacency nor so low to prompt alarm.’ Secondly, there seems to be ‘fairly secure legitimacy on the inside; and somewhat more wobbly on the outside. Thirdly, legitimacy beliefs within the ICANN sphere show limited variation by stakeholder group, geographical location or social category. Lastly, there was ‘no glaring Achilles heel of vulnerability in any quarter but also no striking concentration of greater ICANN champions’ found. Moreover, the research has looked at the drivers of legitimacy and has identified three different types of drivers: organisational drivers (e.g. accountability, transparency and decision-making processes) individual drivers (position within ICANN and personal benefits) and societal-level drivers (perception of structural inequalities, although found, did not negatively impact the legitimacy). In sum, the research suggests that ICANN has fairly secured legitimacy and that the drivers of these legitimacy beliefs are multiple and variable.
Jordan Carter (discussant) spoke about the Roadmap on Internet Governance intended to try and provoke discussion and dialogue among the Internet community about the ways in which Internet governance needs to be improved. Carter focused on a couple of aspects of legitimacy and stated that more broad-based participation will enhance the outcome and outputs of Internet governance processes which would be more likely to be accepted by participants and others. A deficit of people from the global south participating in these processes could be improved by providing effective funding approaches and improving the culture of these frameworks as they vary in their welcoming nature. Secondly, Carter argued that there is a need to review the foundations of Internet Governance in light of the future, which could enhance the legitimacy of Internet governance at large. Thirdly, the institutional innovation question was addressed, such as the extent to which a topic such as AI fits or belongs in the framework of Internet Governance, as there is a risk that it will turn in all governance topics.
Dr. Corinne Cath presented her ethnography on the exclusionary cultures at the IETF, which makes key protocols and standards that enable networks to connect. Cath presented the key findings of her research centred around the question of ‘how suitable is the IETF for civil society participation?’ The duality of the findings in that, on the one hand, the multistakeholder model can be an important model of governing the Internet while it on the other hand, can in practice, be exclusionary and discriminatory to minority voices, especially those in civil society was stressed. According to Cath, to maintain the openness of the multistakeholder model, there is an urgent need to address these exclusionary and discriminatory aspects. If this is not addressed, multilateral approaches will be used in favour of multistakeholder approaches. Cath found that although these processes are procedurally open, they are also culturally closed off, which hinders participation. These cultural dynamics include denial of politics in technical discussions, procedural openness as a distraction, reliance on informal networking and abrasive working practices.
Nadia Tjahja presented her research on youth meta-participation at the IGF. Tjahja looked at how youth are creating new spaces within the IGF that align with the values of the IGF. In her latest publication, an edited definition of meaningful participation has been proposed, as well as a revision of Arnstein ladder, resulting in the ‘Pyramid of Participation’ in which the ways in which we see how people integrate within the IGF is captured. It was argued that tokenised participation, found in Arnstein’s ladder, was outside the scope and left out of the Pyramid of Participation. Instead, meaningful participation that failed in the process is analysed through the lens of why and how they are not able to participate meaningfully. Through interviews, the research mapped participant activities to the Pyramid of Participation, therefore exploring how young people are navigating through processes at YOUthDIG, EuroDIG and the IGF.
Lindeberg (discussant) stressed and agreed on the importance of ensuring inclusive and meaningful participation in the stakeholder model. Moreover, the need to make sure that the discussions are not spread among too many platforms, as this could hinder the participation of small states and organisations in these spaces, was stressed as well as the need to make existing platforms stronger and share best practices.
Alisa Heaver (discussant) stressed the fact that still not all countries are represented in ICANN and the unequal participation in the GAC in terms of regional representation. And hope to see in the next round that GTLD’s more diverse stakeholders are represented meaning a larger array of top-level domains in other languages, and other scripts and ensuring that more registries and registrars are equally distributed across the world.
- Knowing what levels of legitimacy beliefs prevail in which quarters- and what kinds of forces shape those legitimacy beliefs- can contribute to more informed and nuanced policymaking.
- The openness of the multistakeholder model is integral to the success of the Internet.
- It is crucial to reflect on how youth navigate the IGF ecosystem to enhance their meaningful participation in Internet governance
Call to action points:
- There is a need to determine the boundaries of Internet Governance and reflect upon the potential need to create new multistakeholder processes to deal with aspects of the digital sphere that fall outside of the scope of Internet Governance to ensure and maintain the legitimacy of current frameworks.
- It is crucial to ensure the openness of spaces of Internet Governance by bridging the gap between procedural openness and unwelcoming cultures in practice.
- To define and adopt a definition on meaningful participation, which was proposed in this session, and within this lens reflect on youth activities and processes.