You are here

IGF 2019 – Day 3 – Raum IV – WS #72 Inclusion and Legitimacy in Multistakeholderism at ICANN - RAW

The following are the outputs of the real-time captioning taken during the Fourteenth Annual Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Berlin, Germany, from 25 to 29 November 2019. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the event, but should not be treated as an authoritative record. 

***

 

>> So good morning, everyone.

>> AUDIENCE:  Good morning.

>> Good morning, everyone, and thank you for joining us for this round table discussion at an early hour and after the music night.  I hope you enjoyed yesterday.

So this round table discussion today will be on inclusion and legitimacy in multistakeholderism governance model.  And we will be discussing ICANN as an example.

Inclusion is a corner stone of legitimacy for multistakeholderism approaches to internet governance.  And one of the key arguments for supporting multistakeholderism models is being equally inclusive to stakeholders from all sector, region, gender, race, age group, and et cetera.

But how does this inclusive diversity work in practice?  Does multistakeholderism governance of internet provide everyone with new opportunities to participate?  What is the impact of this on effectiveness and fairness of the decision‑making process?  All are valid questions that we need to discuss.  And today we will be discussing the internet corporation for assigned names and numbers as an example.

ICANN is one of the main pioneers and champions of multistakeholderism in internet governance.  Of multistakeholderism in internet governance, and moreover, ICANN has concerted many initiatives to promote inclusive participation in the governance of global internet infrastructure.

So what is the situation regarding inclusion at ICANN today?  How is ICANN addressing inclusiveness and access in its bottom‑up multistakeholder model?  And how successful are those initiatives in practice?

All these questions will be guiding us in our discussion today.  And today we have with us Scholte at University of Gothenburg.  And research at the university.  Principle investigator in the ICANN legitimacy study which will be the subject of our discussion today.

We also have with us a researcher at the university and part of Jan's team.  So they have randomly selected more than 450 participants across ICANN from community and staff for a survey interview to get most precise and reliable information on basically three things.  How do ICANN participants view the issue of inclusive participation and its relation to ICANN legitimacy?  How far do they perceive structural inequalities influence in rejection to geographical?  And whether they regard any such inequalities and exclusions to be problematic for internet governance through ICANN.

So before handing over the floor to Jan to give us an overview of the report and its finding, allow me also to introduce our speakers today in format of the session.

So we have four distinguished speakers, I'm sorry, three speakers with us.  We have on my right.  And deputy director of I.T. for change.  And the work largely focuses on research and policy advocacy in the domains of digital rights and development and the political economy of women's right in the information societies.  So welcome.  We also have with us Erika Mann to my left.  She is a senior policy adviser in public policy practice group and a former member of the European parliament.  And she is member of ICANN's council and a former member of ICANN's board of directors.

Erika had the Facebook office in Brussels from 2011 to 2016.

And last but definitely not least, we also have Leon Sanchez.  Lee son started as an ICANN fellow and is now ICANN board director but also the vice chair of the board.  He is a lawyer and head of the intellect usual property division and partner at a firm in Mexico.  He is involved in Mexico and serves on the boards of trust net corporate group, ISDI Mexico as well as several other nonprofit organizations in Mexico.

So we will be starting with presentation from Jan on the report and the findings from the report.  And we will have two rounds of discussions.  We will hear from our speakers, their remarks on the report and then open the floor for any comments or remarks.  And then we will give back the floor to our distinguished speakers for further comments and any suggestions for future proposals.  And then back to the floor again to hear your remarks and if you have further suggestions.

So with this and without further ado, I hand over to you, Jan, please.

>> JAN AART SCHOLTE:  Thank you very much.  Thank you for participating and speaking.

Thank you all for attending.  Thank you, remote participants.  Are we okay for the remote participants?  I hope they're here as well.  And thank you those of you around the table.  I'm not allowed to acknowledge you because the study was anonymous and confidential, but a number of you recognize as people that spoke with us.  And if you had not helped us, this study would not have happened.  So I'm glad we had a share what came out in this sense.

We are talking about the inclusion aspect here.  Is the study being about legitimacy at ICANN.  And we looked at inequalities as an aspect of legitimacy at ICANN, but we saw the IGF was having a special stream on inclusion and we thought, ah, we actually have interesting data that can be shared here.  So we will not be making connections today, but we are going to look at the perceptions that people have of inequalities of influence at ICANN and multistakeholderism and whether they matter.

So these are our two questions.  In what ways and to what extent do participants if the internet corporation for assigned names and numbers, ICANN, perceive inequalities of influence in the regime?  So we are looking at perceptions.  What do people see?  And how far do participants perceive any such inequalities to be problematic because you might perceive inequalities but not find them problematic.  So we are asking if people find it problematic for the regime.  Why are these questions interesting?  Well, structural inequalities in general terms are debated much in contemporary society.  And perceptions of problematic inequalities can be drivers for regime change.  And when we look at inequalities in governance, it might help or serve to produce rules which generate or sustain inequalities in society more generally.

In internet governance, structural inequality, so‑called digital divides can affect the life chances of people in a digital society.  So they are important in that way.  And then in multistakeholdersism in ICANN, multistakeholderism promotes itself as being a way to get all affected people involved in decision making and policy making.  And ICANN as a major site of multistakeholderism and multistakeholderism governance has greatly promoted decision taking.  Many initiatives to include people from all region, from multiple language, all generations and so on.  So it's interesting to and now in 2018, 2019 when we did these interviews how far do participates in the regime perceive inequalities of influence and do they find that they matter.  So that's what we're going to show you.

Very quickly, we sampled, we did a random sample.  We did a fairly rigorous random sample.  Sitting next to me did all the technical stuff.  And it's confident that we have a random sample so what we tell you here is representative.  Quite close within several points of statistical reliability to what the general situation in the ICANN sphere is.  We interviewed all 30 members of the ICANN board between 2015 and 2018.  We interviewed 305 members of the ICANN community spread across different region, sectors and so on.  We interviewed 132 members of staff.  And we weighted the results you see.  So there's a disproportionate number.  We wanted census samples from board, community, and staff.  It means that the numbers were slightly uneven and so we've weighted them in the statistics that you will see here.

Okay, let's start with results.  We asked people in principal, how important do you find it that ICANN gives all stakeholders opportunities to participate?  And here you can see, vast majority of people thought it was extremely important.

So the principle of inclusive, the policy makers, it's a consensus that it should matter.  So quite important or very important.  And not so many people fall below that.  And then about ICANN's performance, in practice to what extent do you think ICANN gives all stakeholders the opportunity to participate?  This is in practice.  Again, the scores come out quite high.  So to a large extent, the it's high bars in the middle there.  A little bit to the right.  Completely is the bunch to the further right.  Moderately is the chunk in the middle.  And then not so many people saying not much happened.  So the record on inclusive participation by different stakeholders in ICANN is regarded as being relatively strong.

By participants in the ICANN regime.

But if you ask are there inequalities of influence within that participation, then people also see that there are inequalities of participation.  And this graph shows you from left to right, five distinguished speakers dimensions of inequality.  The middle line four, if the line had fallen at four in the middle, then it would have been a perception of equal influence.  But you will see in each case, the line comes below the four to show perceived inequality on average.  By age, some inequality perceived.  And one goes further to ethnicity/race, language, north/south, gender.

Again, so widely seen inequalities of influence but are they regarded as problematic?  Because you might say, okay, there are inequalities of one thing or another but it's not that important for the regime.  It's one thing to perceive, it's another thing to find them problematic.  Here are the results for them being problematic and you see as age inequalities are seen as relatively less problematic, somewhere just below the moderately.  So a bit problematic but not quite moderately.  The other four inequalities by race, ethnicity, by language, by region, and by gender are seen as progressively more problematic.  Somewhere between moderately problematic and quite problematic.  Interesting thing if you look here, the gender inequalities were perceived ‑‑ the inequalities of influence by gender were perceived to be the least out of the five but regarded as the most problematic.  That's kind of interesting.

Now let's look at what people say about inequalities and the problematicness depending on who they are.  Within the different group, you can ask do they perceive these inequalities differently?  On average, global south participants and global north participants perceive the same amount of inequality, it's no different.  That's interesting.  And on average, participants with lower English skills and lower English skills perceive broadly the same amount of inequality influence.  On those two, not much difference.  Doesn't matter who you are, you see the same average degree of inequality influence.  But non‑white participants perceive significantly more race/ethnic inequality in ICANN than white participants so.  On the race/ethnicity dimension, there's a different perception and experience of the situation.  And on average, younger generations perceive a greater, significantly greater age inequality than the older generations.  So everyone is seeing an inequality, but the younger people are seeing a greater inequality than the older generations.  And on average, women perceive more inequality in ICANN than men.  And this is actually in order.  So the biggest gap is actually the gender gap.  So people are seeing different inequalities, do they see the situations differently when it comes to whether it's problematic or not?

Well, on average, non‑white perceive race/ethnic inequality to be somewhat more problematic man white persons, but it's not statistically significant.

But we do see that younger participants perceive age inequality at ICANN.  Again, we're going in order.

So the age perception of problematicness is significant.  On average, global south perceive north/south inequalities significantly more.  So everyone sees both participants see the same amount of inequality on average, but the global south participants find this to be more problematic than the global north participants.  And likewise when you look at participants with lower English skills, they are perceiving that language inequalities are more problematic than those with the English skills.  It's interesting to pin it down and see quite significant perception.  So an English speaker might be in this ‑‑ the English speaker, oh, yes, there's an inequality there but they underestimate the degree it's peculiarity.  And the greatest gap in perceptions is the gender one.  So women participants perceive gender inequality to be more problematic than men.  And here, it's a four‑point scale and the difference of average perception is not .7.  So that's quite whopping actually.

So in summary, participants broadly appreciate ICANN's efforts to achieve stakeholder involvement in policy making.  But participants do perceive substantial inequalities of influence at ICANN on lines of age, gender, geography, language, race, ethnicity, and sector.  That's some additional evidence that we didn't present here.  And participants perceive these inequalities of influence to be between moderately and quite problematic for the regime.  And as we've shown, in general, those in the more subordinate position of these hierarchies of influence tend to find the inequalities to be more problematic than the dominant positions.

Okay, now a few qualifications.  We are looking only at perception, only at what people see.  Not looking at hard data about how many people are occupying chairs and that sort of thing.  That kind of evidence you would want to supplement to this that we presented here.  We just looked at the perceptions.  We have not established here the significance of these perceptions of inequality for the legitimacy of ICANN.  So we don't know yet, because we haven't done that part of the analysis, but you might perceive inequalities, perceive them to be problematic, it doesn't necessarily follow that you have less confidence in the regime.  It may.  But it doesn't necessarily follow.

And we should also note, we have survey participants from the ICANN regime here only.  One might presume, again, we would have to test it, but one might presume that people who are not participating in ICANN might on average perceive larger inequalities.  Indeed, it might even be a reason why they don't participate.  So with those qualification, I hand over to the speakers, and thank you very much.

>> Thank you very much.  Thank you for the presentation but also thank you for the survey itself and for the study and for the interesting findings.

Actually I find that very interesting when both sides see the problem, but one part see it significant, one part not.  I mean, when there is agreement, there would be easier solutions.  When there is not the same perception, this may make things a little bit more difficult.  But let's see how our speakers regard the findings.  Who would like to start?  Would you ‑‑ okay

>> Thank you.  And I'll structure my comments according to the reflections on the report as that is what we were asked to do when making the set of interventions.

First of all, I want to say that this report is very important because it reaffirms this understanding that openness is not necessarily equivalent to element for inclusive participation.  And this is something that even other research into free culture and forced communities informed have shown us such as Joseph's famous work on Wikipedia communities and.  It's interesting to quote from study that the people at the subordinate ends of structural inequalities of influence in ICANN find the hierarchies more problematic.  And I think this is a very important consideration that we must take away when we look at like designing elements for meaningful and inclusive participation, because the general for being open and diverse in general, that is actually very alienating for people from certain marginal locations.  When it's up to you to participate and the it's positioned as a neutral and open, then it's very easy to look at non‑participation as a matter of individual choice or preference, but there may be structural dynamics in the interactions which alienate people of color, of non‑English speaker, and this is a very important finding, I think.

The other thing I want to call attention to is something that surprised me in the study.  So the study's findings said that many respondents did feel that the business sector has a strong influence on ICANN decisions but at the same time, they also did not find this particularly problematic.  I know the study ‑‑ the survey was conducted between 2016 and 2018, but in the light of subsequent developments, I am particularly speaking about the decision to allow the increase of price gaps on the .org domain.  I found this decision surprising because in this context, there were 23,000 parties who wrote opposing the removal of price gaps and there were hardly six comments that supported the change.  But in the final decision, when the price gaps were allowed to be removed, the summary from ICANN actually said that there was a group that opposed lifting price gaps, but it is not true that the community was strongly opposed to lifting them.

So the 3,000 comments on one side and about six to seven comments on the other side, so when these come together and certain decisions take place, we also have to look at accountability in this decision‑making and we may need to rethink these processes and open decision making.

And my final comment is that when we look at directions for future research, I think we must build from Jan's summary point that perceptions are important, particularly in where the greater pressure for change might come but they are not the only measure of the issue.  This is because operates at multiple levels and we may have to bring different methods to analyze what are the different dimensions of power at work which lead to certain decisions.  Like for example, take the issue and the whole controversy around jurisdictional immunity.  It might be good to inform the study by speaking about why in that particular controversy there was a certain majority opinion and who was in the minority and who was dissenting and how you can see gee I don't politics at operation there.

So I think we need to talk about power in the macro level in the analysis along with looking at macro power in personalized interactions.  Thank you

>> Thank you very much for your valuable remarks.  But also allow me to ask Erika, what would you see regarding the findings and whether you have anything specific that strikes you in the findings?

>> ERIKA MANN:  Thank you so much, Manal.  And thank you for the great study.  What I like to do, I like to focus on maybe three more general areas.  Which I believe relate to topic we are discussing.  So I want to broaden the scope a little bit.

So the first is the importance of the multistakeholder model and the second topic which are weaknesses in relation to topic we are debating of fairness and inclusiveness.

I believe there's one item we need to keep in mind.  And that's the history.  So once you create an organization like when ICANN was created, it has a particular mission, a particular goal.  It's relatively narrow in scope.  And because of the history, because you have much more technical and business understanding, that's the way it was shaped, and automatically, part of the non‑inclusiveness comes from the history.  Because if you have an organization like this which was created primarily not only but the beginning, much of the debate how it was shaped, U.S. and to some degree EU‑centric based, of course, the history will never fade away.  So it takes an immense amount of time to overcome these kind of barriers.  That's true for gender issues too.  Because when you look back in the history involved, but like it is often the case in institutional framing, these kind of participants are often, you know, in the future overlooked because men like to glorify themselves and women often don't do this.  So that's a role we have to play actively, you know, to bring the women a part of this from the very beginning, but to bring them in center.

So that's one issue which I believe we have to work on.  The second we have to work on is what I call the weaknesses.  So because of the model is very narrow, and it should be narrow, it's only one part of the internet ecosystem, it's not the internet.  We sometimes believe it's the internet, but it's not the internet.  It's part of it.  But because of this, there are of course issues which are more focusing on let's say on the market driver, which, you know, the domain system which are located when you look at it and the data primarily located in certain locations around the globe.  So some of the unfairness or which we experience again relates back to the dominance in certain markets.  And we shouldn't forget this.  And then because of this, we experience, you know, the disfavoring of certain regions, but it's a market reality.  We can't overlook it.  It's part of a market reality.  And again, it relates to some degree of cost to the proportion how women participate.  As well as because in these market segment, you have traditionally more men still than you have women.  So we have to review this.  And if we are debating about this topic.

And the last item I believe which is important, what we typically tend to ignore although we have ‑‑ we try to shape the user and consumer environment, but we have very poor understanding about it.  We have super poor understanding about the market.  We have super poor understanding about the domain environment.  And we have super poor understanding about consumers and users.  Why am I saying this?  Because in particular on the users and the consumers, they are, of course, across the globe.  And there you have a much broader fair share between women and men, but we don't surface them because we have a very poor understanding.  And yeah, ICANN environment.  So these are my points.  Thank you so much.

>> MANAL ISMAIL:  Thank you very much.  So over to you Leon, please.  And then we will open the floor for discussion.

>> LEON SANCHEZ:  Thank you very much.  Thank you, Jan, for conducting this study.  Thank you very much.  As you said, I think the results of the study seem very intuitive, right?  It seems so obvious that those who feel that don't have the influence they wish they had felt like there's this parody and they feel aggravated about the lack of maybe inclusiveness or the meaningful in their participation.

However, I think it's good that we have this results materialize so that they can be applied for us to actually set the bar and identify the room that we have for improvement.  So I think that despite the efforts, there is actually room for improvement.  But we can also not deny reality, right?  I mean, not everyone is able to devote the time for many fully participating in ICANN.  Not everyone speaks English.  Not everyone has the resources of the connectivity to join remotely meeting, et cetera, et cetera.  So yes, these are things that affect participation within ICANN.  And not only within ICANN but in other forum.  And these also draws a line between what I believe is inclusive and meaningful participation, right?  As you were saying, we've seen this in software community, the open culture community.  So the fact that it is open doesn't actually entail or compromise that your participation is either guaranteed or that it's meaningful.

Within these group, you also find a notion which I think those who happen in ICANN are familiar with which are the silo, right?  So people get to gather around common interests, and they tend to form groups.  And these groups sometimes are resistant to change.  And they are also resistant to new actors.  It's sometimes difficult to find your way within a community that has been around for quite some time and they know each other very well, and you are the new guys, somehow, and coming and people will have expectations about what is your agenda, what is your purpose of being there.  Do you actually come to contribute meaningful?  Are you constructively or willing to contribute in a constructive way or are you just someone that is there to see how you make people's life impossible, et cetera, et cetera?

So I mean there are a number of aspects that can influence or actually define how you find your way within ICANN.

There's been some comments about business sector dominance.  I've also hear a number of comments about Governmental dominance.  It feels like maybe the end‑users could be the sandwich in this.  I also have heard some comments about the technical community being outliers, because they might not be engaged anymore.  They might feel that they have other things to do.

So again, it depends on the lens through which you're looking at this, right?  So businesses sometimes think that Governments dominate.  Governments say, oh, no, it's the business sector that dominates.  So this is what multistakeholderism is, right?  We're not going to have everyone agree and we're not going to have everyone happy in this environment.  Some define multistakeholderism as the art of keeping everyone equally ‑‑

>> Unhappy.

>> LEON SANCHEZ:  Unhappy, yes, right?  I don't think that's the way I see it.  I think it's a way of finding compromise.  And yes, it's a give and take, constantly giving and taking and being flexible and trying to find common grounds and trying to actually set yourself in, you know, in the shoes of your counterpart and trying to understand them and trying to say, okay, why is my counterpart seeing this the way he or she sees it?

So the study says that ICANN is a big experiment in terms of multistakeholderism.  And I do believe it is.  I think it's set a lot of examples and standards that can be followed, not only within ICANN on how things could be done but also on how things shouldn't be done.  So it's a two‑way avenue.

And I would like to, I think the system works.  It of course needs improvement, but this is not something we're going to perceive in the short‑term.  So this is something that needs to be taken care of jointly with all stakeholders across region, across groups of interests, across people of the different social backgrounds can come in, that are interested in joining ICANN.  And I see it as an educational lesson, as a resource availability issue.  That is not solely to ICANN to resolve.  Right?  So this is why all stakeholders that participate within ICANN should be doing actions within their reach and within their groups of interests and influence to pulling new people in, to try to level up, to try to level the ground for everyone to meaningful and inclusively participate.

So with that, I would go back to Manal.  Thank you very much.

>> MANAL ISMAIL:  Thank you very much, Leon.  And thanks to all three speakers for some excellent points.  So you highlighted that openness is not necessarily inclusiveness.  And also what came out as business sector being more influential and perceptions are important but not the only measure.

And Erika, the weaknesses of the model and poor understanding of user and consumer environment.  And finally, Leon, on the results seem to be right, thing affecting participation at ICANN and other forums as well, silos within the multistakeholder model, and the perception of domination of certain stakeholder groups.

So I'll stop here and open the floor for any other remarks on the findings from the audience.  Whether out of experience within ICANN or any other multistakeholder forum.  So the discussion is open.  Taking ICANN as an example, but please feel free if you have experience as well.  And I seem to know everyone, but it will be good to introduce yourselves, so I have Sebastian and then Jorge.  Sebastian, please.

>> Thank you very much.  Currently within ICANN, newly elected chair, part of end‑users in ICANN in the European region.  Thank you, Jan, for this study.  I think it's a very important piece of work because after the work done for transition, participating to this.  And I guess it's coming from the discussion we have in those groups that this study is coming from.

And I think it's a good image.  I would like to urge us to do some data analogies of this ‑‑ some of those elements because the composition of the leadership team in different part of ICANN could be a good subject to study how it has evolved and how it could be evolved.

The second point is that what we can do.  And that's good to have an element of information, but what we can do and who could be in charge of changing that.  We suggest to our diversity function to take care of that, it was dismissed.  And my last point is that sometimes one who could be the most strongest voice for something is the one who struggle against.  And today I guess gender balance could be achieved within ICANN.  But more vocal not to do anything are some women.  And I am sorry to say that, but I heard that.  Because the answer is, oh, skill is more important.  And my motto is skill, you can learn.  The rest, you can bring.  Thank you.

>> MANAL ISMAIL:  Thank you very much, Sebastian.  Jorge, please, go ahead.

>> Thank you so much.  From the swiss Government.  I also represent Switzerland within the Governmental advisory committee.

First of all, thanks very much for this study.  I think it gives us useful data.  And as always, with studies and data, it will depend very much on the perspective on how you read it or what you want to read in that study.

But I think at least it's a good basis.  It's a common ground on where we can base more fact‑based discussions.

I think that in the discussion, it was pointed to the issue of open working groups within ICANN.  We do policy and the so‑called policy development, and development processes with open working group.  But as first pointed out, open does not mean that meaningful participation.  Hold on a second.  That meaningful participation is possible.  So there's open as a precondition but it's far from being enough to make it possible that we have participation from all the stakeholder groups in a balanced fashion.

There are some discussions ongoing, the so‑called dpd3.0.  That sub organization of ICANN which prepares the policy on generic top‑level domains.

But I think that we are still very much in the mindset of those original and historically determined open working group for technicians used to be the peers who participated there.  And everyone in that community recognized themselves as equals.  Nobody was worse than white men with technical background.  But today, ICANN is a completely different animal.  And the policies we do are mostly not really technical.  There's a lot of politics also.  So really communities, individual user, Governments have a stake there.

And as one of the Government representatives who has participated in, I think, a lot of PDPs and of cross‑community working groups which say similar thing in the ICANN world, when you look around in the call or at the table and you look at who is speaking and who is there, there are very few Governments.  There is almost no case you have really people from the global south.  Very few of them.  And when it comes to speaking, they don't speak.  There are some exceptions, but those are individuals who by some constellation have that possibility.

So I think we really have to address this, not hide from it.  Because it's important to go really and to direction of meaningful participation.  And the open working group model of doing policy is a problem.  So we really have to tackle that.  And make sure that there are additional layers of participation which are not only shambles, which are not only for the show, but which are really there to make inputs happen.

And this goes beyond also ICANN.  I had a discussion with another person at work a couple of days ago.  And we have the same problems there.  Because we're trying to develop some multistakeholder policy in that forum.  But in tend, you end up with many Western, very well‑educated colleague, mostly men.  Although the gender gap is the diminishing.  But you miss all the people from the global south because this model of having thousands of emails and teleconferences where you take decisions with discussions in English is not inclusive.  It doesn't work.  It is possibly a precondition, it's one element, but we have to build on that.  But really, addressing the problem.  Thank you.

>> MANAL ISMAIL:  Thank you very much, Jorge.  I have the gentleman here and then martin, okay.

>> Okay, thank you, chair.  My name is Paul.  I'm from the global south.  My comments on this is ‑‑ and I'm with IGF, so with a different multistakeholder group.  And these issues flow through most of the groups.  Inclusion is an issue.  Multistakeholder is an issue.  It's complex to get that balance.  We do need to avoid token participation to achieve inclusion.  We need to ensure that the environment is conducive to encourage equitable participation.  And we need environments to understand and understand diverse cultures.  Because we engage differently.  People from the global north, you know, can be quite more aggressive in the way that they engage to the global south.

We also have issues in the big organizations where the so‑called experts, you know, the ones that have been benefited from being there in time, they entrench themselves in these organizations and for newcomer, they can be quite intimidating.  And they tend to build networks that can exclude people internally, which doesn't help when you have new entrants that are not so confidence.  We need to build their confidence and knowledge.  I'm happy to say our colleague started as a fellow and moved up and we need to encourage more of that from the global south.  We should not force inclusion.  We need to understand the root cause and we need to fix the root causes.  Because inclusion should be natural.  It shouldn't be artificial.  If it's not natural, why is it not natural?  What are the causes?  What is preventing people from coming?

And my colleague here making comment that people from the global south are often present but don't voice themselves.  And that is because it is intimidating to come in a room.  And often that room is either gender unbalanced or it's ethnically unbalanced.  And then you've got this group of claimed experts and you need to talk.

It's not easy for everybody to have that confidence.

Within ICANN, I think ICANN needs to understand what full inclusivity will mean for it.  I would see it affecting change within the organization.  And I would hope to see a positive change in its culture and a change and an effective change in its interventions.  Thank you.

>> MANAL ISMAIL:  Thank you very much, Paul.

>> Thank you very much.  Former ICANN board member and like Erika, very interested in how we can policy decision, especially that affect something of interest to citizens around the world.  And how to do that in an inclusive and legitimate way.  So I think this is a very good session, very timely session.  And I really want to comment them on the work they're doing.  And I think it's a really important step in trying to figure out not only what legitimacy means at ICANN but whether it can be a model for others.  I think at the end of the day, we also need to compare this system and the IGF system with normal systems of making decisions at global level.  If I look at decision making in the United Nations which is exclusively the reserve of Governments and a lot of Governments don't have inclusive systems inside their own country.  They don't have serious parliaments.  They don't have free media holding to account.  Well, okay, maybe ICANN and IGF are not great.  But the alternatives can actually be worse.  So I think that's not an excuse to not make sure we're very, very good, but I would like to turn it around and say let's see if we can make this work even better.  And then be a serious competition for the inter‑governmental system of doing business.

Then I remember I think it was in Panama on a roof somewhere where we were talking about where legitimacy comes from and you said there's different ways of going about it.  And some people say if the process was open and inclusive, then that grounds legitimacies and others say, no, if the outcome works like the internet work, so by definition, the system that runs it is ‑‑ so I was wondering if at some point you're going to come back to that in the study and whether ‑‑ because I don't remember the questions exactly, how that could be reflected.  Because I think that's an interesting one.  And that makes me wonder because you raised the issue of .org, whether you would have the question now, whether there would be ‑‑ whether this would be a point of concern that would come out.

I'm very much want to echo what Jorge saying about some things being necessary but not conditions.  I had the privilege of immediately joining the board, so you get an incredible support system around you.  Which is different if you come from the outside and have to work your way in.  I don't think it's impossible for outsiders to become part of the whole system.  But the biggest constraint is simply time.  Because if you're not being paid or if your organization doesn't want you to be here, then who has the time and if you're not funded, and the money so, the resource constraint to actually do all of us this.  One of the great pleasures of not being on the board is not drowning in this email waterfall every single day.  And I think that is something that needs to be looked at, whether it cannot be done, also, with all due respect, I think email are very 1998.  So I wonder if it's there's not a better way to do that is more efficient and more inclusive.

And then I have one more question which is I saw on one of the bar things that sometimes the perceptions were different depending on which group, which was asked.  And I would be interested to know whether the board on a regular basis saw things differently than the community.  Because I think the board has ‑‑ I saw in one or two of the charts.  Because it would be interesting to see if the board sees less problems than the community does because that could also indicate a level of disconnect in the perception between what the board sees and what the community sees.  So that was my question.  Thank you.

>> MANAL ISMAIL:  Thank you very much for the remarks but also the question.  I think we will be hearing a response later.  So I have martin, I'll then get back to the speakers and then we will have another ‑‑ okay.  I have two more interventions.  Then the speakers and then back to the floor again.  So Martin, please.

>> Thank you.  I'm sorry there's a sheer dominance of former and current board members taking the microphone.  I am a current one.

Focus for me on so how do we get the multistakeholder system to work in a way that we recognize as legitimate but also effective.  I think that there have been so many examples of where things are not working as good as they should or whatever.  I think over the years what we have seen is that there's been a lot of search for how do we improve this and a lot of effort in making it better.  And coming from a tradition where you need to meet face‑to‑face to get things done, that's also a tradition we need to leave behind at some moment, I guess, because we can't fly everybody who may want to say anything into every place in the world to participate in every conversation.  That would kill the world because co2 would go through the roof and it will be unaffordable.

So what we're trying to do is enable participation in different multistakeholder networks and do it in different ways.  In ICANN, we try to actively stimulate new people.  We are having workshops around the world and for these workshops, these conferences, we put a lot of emphasis and also creating in a safe, supporting, welcoming environment.  So people come, they can could want on it being an environment where they feel safe to express, to and question, where they can even be informed if newcomer, how do I participate to this specific multistakeholder network?

And more and more I see not only ICANN but also multistakeholder networks the importance and the growth of online meetings as an addition as a way to participate.  I think one of the best things I saw with IGF basically where the regional events have become as important or even more important than the global annual event itself.  And maybe the distributed way of talking where things are discussed in regions where people and brought back to central is almost the way forward.

Inclusive processes are a good start.  As Jorge said, we have a local processes, et cetera, but in the end, it's all about what people do with it.  And I think that's something that will change over time.  Learning, seeking, actively being committed to finding better ways.  And to people being open to elevation of participating.

So suggestions for improvement are so welcome and they are triggered by this study as well.  So want to thank Jan for that as well.

>> MANAL ISMAIL:  Thank you, martin.  And we will be discussing suggestions for improvement right after the last intervention.  So please go ahead.

>> Thanks.  Hi, my name is Susan Payne, I participate in ICANN within the GSO.  I am interested in the perceptions on gender.  And I am not trying to discount them in any way, but within a number of groups within ICANN, there are women in very senior positions so.  We have, you know, the chair of the IP C is a woman, the chair of the NCSG is a woman.  We don't have parody on the board, but we have a number of strong female voices on the board.  The chair of the registry stakeholder group say woman.  And I'm not discounting the perception, but I think it would be interesting on why that perception exists.  You know, is that people perceive those particular roles as merely tokenism.  I don't think that's the case.  I know most of those people quite well, and I think they have very strong and hold those posts in their own right.  So what is it that's driving that perception that there is gender inequality?  And whether it's within specific groups that you're getting a stronger feeling of that.  So within a group where there are, you know, most of the participants are men, is there a stronger perception that women are excluded.

As I say, I'm not discounting it.  I totally agree that the perception exist, but it would be interesting to try to understand why when there are so many strong female role models people are still perceiving that.  And perhaps we could work out a better way to address I.  But I have my own view which is perhaps many people answering the survey that all women have in all walks of life, that female voices are quite often drowned out in a group.  And when women become impassioned about something, it's viewed as emotional and we are frequently discounted but that's not an ICANN thing.

>> MANAL ISMAIL:  Thank you very much, Susan.  So we have two concrete questions regarding the survey.  Came from the floor so, Susan is asking about the basis for this perception of gender inequality.  And asking whether findings from the board survey tend to be same views shared by everyone or if there are differences?  Would you like to comment on this now or go to the speakers and start our second round first?

>> JAN AART SCHOLTE:  Maybe I can give several answers to specific questions and general things save to the end.  But the perceptions of the board that you mentioned that was well spotted indeed on the graph.  The perceptions of the board of the problematic nature of the different equalities, inequalities is significantly lower on four of the five dimensions.  So the board is on par with other constituencies when it comes to gender inequalities but perceiving lower problems in relation to age, language, race, and region.  So that might be something for the board to reflect upon.

The gender inequality y it's perceived, of course, this is probably beyond my pay grade, but I think you're right to say and it touches on what she also asked about what drives these perceptions.  We've presented you with descriptive statistical patterns.  We haven't explained them.  So the explanations of people's perceptions may lie in institutional procedures and institutional outcomes.  But as you yourself also mentioned, people bring in all kinds of baggage from their wider societal experiences, and then that influences what they see in the institutional setting.  And at that point, kit be the wide societal experience rather than institutional experience per se.  We would have to look at that in more detail.  I am not saying it is the reason but it's a possibility for sure.

I think that's the two main points that came up.

>> MANAL ISMAIL:  Yeah, I think.  Yeah, that's it.  So back to our speakers and if there are any specific proposals you see to advance the issue of inclusiveness.  So shall we start with you again?  Okay.  Please go ahead.

>> I think that after hearing the conversations in the floor and there are market realities on multistakeholderism and multistakeholder governance model in general, I would like to call attention to the fact that though we may be discussing ICANN broadly in the study and the issues of technical and operational matters of the internet, internet governance truly has expanded to much more issues as the internet becomes increasingly socialized and there are more and more public policy matters that are implicated in this.

And as with shared by one someone from the floor and also been pointed out by the U.N.‑high level panel on digital cooperation, there's also a need to think about what we can do to make the internet governance forum better and more effective, right?  Because there is a lot of fascination among people and for understanding reasons that there is a danger that IGF gets reduced to a talk shop which does not lead to binding outcomes and where do we go from here?  I just want to put on the table the fact that we can never completely solve this question or address it in any meaningful way if we are not willing to revisit the idea of enhanced education and look at the fact that states have representative roles and responsibilities to play in terms of internet related public policy matters.  And there may be areas where technical matters intersect with public policy matters.  For example, the whole debate on jurisdiction of ICANN.  So we need to think about that.  And my last point is this, that though there's this whole fear of having a multilateral process around internet governance, we are seeing that certain portions of this agenda like cross dataflows governance, for example, with getting pushed to various trade agreements.  Now when you see that happen, why is it that we have this fear that is only like around the multilateral process around internet governance, should we be reflecting on that?

>> MANAL ISMAIL:  Thank you very much.  Erika, any thoughts about how we can enhance inclusiveness?

>> ERIKA MANN:  Yeah, I don't think it's very complicated.  I mean, we will have to accept to some degree some limitations.  So we can't ignore the market players.  So we have to accept limitations and we have to accept facts and reality and the mission of ICANN.  And we have to focus on the mission.  We can't get ourself confused, because everything that is happening in the internet ecosystem.  I think it's extremely important to understand.

The second I believe what we can do, we can introduce more facts.  And I believe facts typically do help in shaping whatever one wants to do.  Give you one example, for example, let's take an example.  If you want to do a new round.  So we look at the advantages and disadvantages of the past round.  We will understand what worked globally.  So where are market players which are well situated.  We will understand where are the disadvantages of the various TLD models.  And we compare this to the new round.  We can say, okay, it's clear there was no take‑up on DTLE in Africa.  There was none in particular in region, maybe India.  There's nothing in Pakistan or very few.  There's a lot on China.  And then we can try to understand why is this the case?  And then we can see, is there a possibility and is it reason to believe do so to create markets in these particular regions?  Maybe we come to the conclusion once this analysis is done, maybe it's not helpful.  It depends.  But we don't have facts about this.  We talk about it.  About inclusiveness with regard to certain regions which are disadvantages.  But what are we doing?  And what do we want to do actually.  You know, is it helpful to balance it?  Is it helpful to artificially create a market?  Or maybe it isn't.  But we have to talk about it.  And the same is true for gender.  Once we have facts with regard to maybe a particular stakeholder group, where we see there's a clear ‑‑ there's no, you know, no kind of fair balance, or regional fair balance, then we have to talk about it.  Do we want to change the situation?  Can we change the situation?  Because if they're not sufficient players from the region, we can't even change it.  The same is true for language.  Can we change it?  Probably not.  So we have to be fair to each other too.  To actually understand what we can really change.  And what we can't.  A lot we can do through translation but of course, not in working group.  Much harder.

>> MANAL ISMAIL:  Thank you very much, Erika.  So Leon, any thoughts on how to enhance inclusiveness?  I mean, whether at ICANN or elsewhere, the discussion is open.

>> LEON SANCHEZ:  Thank you very much.  So as I said, I think this is an effort that we all must undertake.  Right?  One of these objectives of the strategic plan for ICANN that was adopted by the board in the community is exactly to improve the effectiveness of ICANN's stakeholder model of governance.  One of the ways is by increasing needs of inclusivity, accountability, and transparency, et cetera, et cetera.

So we are working on this.  And we know that we are far from having the perfect system.  But we do ‑‑ we actually do great efforts to that.  I mean, she was saying that she was someone that came from the outside and that she came right into the board, et cetera, et cetera.  I can tell you the same story.  I came in as an outsider.  But the difference is that I didn't come to the board, I came through the fellowship program.  So I started at the very bottom of the pyramid within the ICANN structure.  And now I'm proud to say that I am a board member and I am the vice chair of the board.  So the system works but you have to work as well.  It's not going to work for you.  Right?  So you need to pay attention to, make the effort, you know, join 2:00 a.m. call, 3:00 a.m. calls, et cetera, et cetera.  And if you do it, you will actually achieve these meaningful and inclusive participation that you are looking for.

The tools are there.  You need to take advantage of those tools.  There are also some situations that fallout side ICANN's ability to level the ground for everyone.  We are also aware of that.  And yes there, are other forum that can actually try to solve those problems.  But the people coming to the different forums tend to be the same.  Right?  We see each other at different forum.  We discuss same issues on different perspective, et cetera, et cetera, and that is good because there is continuing to try to solve the problems.  But that is what I mean when I say that we also need to do outreach within our communities to pull in new people.  To try to level the ground for those who are also interested in joining the different efforts that are carried out in different forum to join us and say, okay, let's sit at the table.  Let's look at common solutions and let's see how we can better implement those solutions.  So that the multistakeholder model is actually enhanced.  It is improved.  And it continues to evolve in a way that actually serves the purpose for which it was thought of to begin with.  So thank you, Manal.

>> MANAL ISMAIL:  Thank you very much, Leon.  So again, back to our audience and if there are any reactions to reflections made by the panel, or if you have your own suggestion as well, again, whether for ICANN or elsewhere.  So please.

>> Thanks.  Kaley from Black Night.  Longtime ICANN addict.  I think I need a new hobby.

I think this discussion is interesting and important.  But I think also people need to have a little bit of a reality check.  ICANN's mission is quite narrow in scope.  So that means by the very nature of the scope of ICANN, not every single human being on the planet needs to turn up.  Now that doesn't mean that their views, their perspective cannot be brought to the table and that's why you have the various stakeholder group, trade associations, and others who do turn up.  But I think we have to be careful about how we frame this inclusion.  Because if you have, I mean, we have expressions in English like in cooks spoil the broth.  If you have 500 people in a working group, you're never, ever going to get anything done.  And you will still be circling the drain on the same topic forever.  It will drive you crazy.  And one of the criticisms of how ICANN works at times is how slow decision‑making processes can be.  That in time, ICANN is not an agile organization.  I mean, if you're coming at things from a business perspective, engaging within an ICANN process is a sure‑fire way of running your budget up to the limit and never actually getting that product out the door.

So I think you have to be careful there.  So one of the things somebody touched on, I think it might have been Jorge was the PDP3.0 thing going on.  It's a GNSO‑council driven project.  I represent the registrars.  And the idea behind that is to rejig how the working groups function, how they're made up.  So there could be more effective.  That does not mean we are exclude, it means we are trying to make them that little bit more functional, agile, and actually get to a result.  Because I think if we fail to do that, it doesn't matter how inclusive you are, we're actually failing everybody.

And I think Martin touched on something which I think is very important which is around how that participation can work.  If you look at IETF, other areas where there are policy and development process, most is done electronically, it's done by email.  1078 organizations are using other technologies that might make her happier such as Slack or other technologies.  And that works really, really well.  Within the ICANN space, a lot of the time people feel they have to turn up physically at meetings and sit across tables and yell at each other.

Which I don't think is morally helpful.  I think there needs to be a better kind of way of doing a lot of.  That because it doesn't make any sense.  Whether it's the carbon footprint or just the logistical issues that you're facing.

>> You look at the ICANN budget, what is money being spent on?  Organizing meetings.  I mean, it's not actually product or improving anything for anybody.  It's just organizing meetings in different parts of the world.  Which probably isn't a particularly good use of money.  There's probably better things that could be spent on.  You could look at, you know, improving capacity of the root server network in certain parts of the world.  That would cost money, but the money has to go to having bloody meetings.  So I think this is a worthwhile conversation.  I think there's some very good points and the study is very helpful.  The issues around language, it's not just a global south versus global north.  Within Europe, I see it with the non‑English speakers.  They are not comfortable a lot of the time speaking.  I mean, if you come into ICANN, you're dealing with a lot of well‑educated, very articulate and quite often aggressive lawyers and others.  So coming into that, if English is not your first language can be quite intimidating.

Thank you.

>> MANAL ISMAIL:  Thank you very much.  Very good points.

Any other comments or remarks?  Yes, Jorge, please, I'm sorry.  Go ahead.

>> Thank you.  So if nobody else takes the floor, I'll take it a second time.  I think this is an ongoing discussion.  I think that there are many things that are being done.  I'm the last one to deny that.  But my point is, we have to do more.

And I think one precondition to participate in discussions is for instance, to have accessible, neutral, objective information of what is going on.  And sometimes it's so difficult, not that anybody's biasing the information, but the information, the quality is not enough.  It's not understandable.  It's not user‑friendly.  And for instance, in my country in Switzerland, we have every three months, we have referendum at the local, at the regional, and at the federal level issues which are much more important and much more complicated than ICANN discussions.

And they manage, the people who prepare the booklets of information for those referendum which is one of the corner stones of the directive and democracy in Switzerland, they manage to prepare the objective, neutral, informative pieces of information on what is the issue, what are the positions, what are the draw backs.  Why cannot we do that at the same level in ICANN?

Then as she said, we have to find the way of ‑‑ sorry.  Of combining the openness of working groups which is good in itself, because it strengthens transparency and it avoids monopolization by the few with a balanced composition of those working groups.  And we can have different layers of participants.  Members of working groups and participants as we had in some experiences that would also allow us to have balance participation between the different stakeholder groups.  And when we go to decision‑making, it would allow us to look, okay, what are the members saying from this and different stakeholder groups?  What is the level of consensus?  Because otherwise in an open group with 200 people, and that happens, maybe 180 agree with a certain position.  But they all come from a certain region, a certain stakeholder group, a certain background.  And that's not what we should be going for.

Also, this comes from my discussion on this other policy network, let's try to be creative and create additional layers of interactive and accessible participation, perhaps with translation or with better information.  So that people are really able to have a say, have a fair say before decisions are taken.  Because now normally this information, you get it when it's too late.  When decisions were already taken.  Or at the beginning, not at the right moment of time.  And I think we can be creative on that.

And of course, we have to self‑organize.  I think Leon is right.  You as a person can do and you can try, and you can succeed.  Depends on many things.  But also those who represent, and I include myself, general interests and for those who know (?) this should ring a bell, it's much more difficult to organize, diffuse general interests than direct interests.  For those who represent such general interests, we have to self‑organize.  And this is an ongoing discussion.  We are trying to break our heads and get something out of our brains to see how we can more efficient in being able and participating in this policy development processes.  So thank you.

>> MANAL ISMAIL:  Thank you very much, Jorge.  Paul, please go ahead.

>> Thank you.  Just very quickly, I like the conversation.  And I think everyone agrees that inclusion of multistakeholders is important.  And I think we understand it's not easy.  And I think ICANN does need to identify what form of multistakeholderism or inclusion works for it because it's not a one fit all.  And I am encouraging this conversation is happening and I believe multistakeholderism is good.  But just and to what will help it achieve its mission, basically.  Thank you.

>> MANAL ISMAIL:  Thank you very much, Paul.  So last call for comments or remarks, yes, Susan, please, go ahead.

>> Susan Anthony.  Very active participant both within ICANN and IGF.  But I wanted to go back to something McKale had said moments ago, should we have all these meetings.  So my question is one for certainly another day over the years, I've suffered the overload of emails and I also appreciate coming to meetings is a luxury for many, many people in the world.  So I'm wondering if there are some other modalities that should be used in addition to or instead of face‑to‑face meetings that can also meet all of these goals that we've talked about over the past couple of hours.  I happen to like the face‑to‑face.  I work with people who feel that face‑to‑face is essential, certain cultures in my country, the United States, that face‑to‑face is essential.  You must see the person, you must see them in the eye.  I don't know whether web cam, et cetera, are good substitutes.  I tend to think not.  But this is an issue I hope we will look at going forward.

>> MANAL ISMAIL:  Thank you very much, Susan.  And yeah, emails seem to be haunting everyone.  I was just saying that I started to appreciate spam.

 

(Laughter).

>> MANAL ISMAIL:  Because I get to delete those without even worrying.  Jokes aside, Jan, you want to say anything before we wrap up?

>> JAN AART SCHOLTE:  Yeah, thanks a lot.  First of all, say thank you everyone for the comments.  I'm really glad to see a discussion going that can keep going from here.  Selfishly, I'm grateful for the feedback because probably seen me scribbling along and taking down many notes that we can take our analysis further.

Just to underline again, we looked at ICANN as a case study.  Not because ICANN was seen as particularly problematic but because it's open and receptive arena where people are concerned about a number of issues and willing to share their views.  So we have been able to get remarkable data as you have seen in terms of people's perception of the situation.  And that's really helpful.

One thing that we played around with, just to underline some of the issues.  We looked through the 467 people who responded to the questionnaire.  And as I said before, they are representative sample.  We are statistically quite almost 100% convinced of that.  And we put into the formula, okay, pick us out the older white, male, English, north people.  And in the sample of 467, 120 fit that matrix.  And then we asked, tell us how many younger female less‑English fluent south of color and it yielded four.  Anyway.  So that's just, that's an interesting.  We've mainly been talking about perceptions, but this is an objective indicator if you like.  So that's something to think about.

That said, inclusivity is not the only principle for judging.  And we asked people about a number of other issues and said, what are your important principles for judging your confidence in ICANN.  And inclusivity was one of the 12 that we looked at.  And it tended towards be towards the upper end.  But decision making and transparency were also regarded as very important.  So you have to trade these off with one another. I liked your opening remarks that different perceptions can macros lesion more difficult.  I hope within the data that we have shown you there are different perceptions around.  And if that happens to make people more aware of how they're seeing the problem more differently, maybe that can help in a small way to get more mutual understanding.

So if we get that from this study and work, then I'll be very, very happy.

If you want to have a copy of the study, drop me one of your cards on the way out, I will make sure you get the hard copy by or the actual full text.  Thanks.

>> MANAL ISMAIL:  Excellent.  Thank you very much, Jan.  Any final remarks from our panelists?  You're good?  Okay.  Then it's yeah, this is definitely the start of the discussion.  And it's again an open question, how inclusive can we be or when exactly do we say now we are inclusive?  I mean, this is an open question.  So with this, I would like to thank our panelists here, Erika and Leon, thank you very much and Jan as well for this excellent and thorough report and interesting findings and thanks each and every one of you for the interactive discussion.  Thank you.

(applause)

(session ended)

 

Contact Information

United Nations
Secretariat of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)

Villa Le Bocage
Palais des Nations,
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland

igf [at] un [dot] org
+41 (0) 229 173 411