As the IGF progresses towards its sixth annual meeting, it is necessary to further strengthen the multi-stakeholder process in various ways. The multi-stakeholder model of Governnace is a process designed to ensure the evolution of balanced policies for Internet Governance. Each stakeholder group places its concerns on the table, and in discussions with other stakeholder groups a balance emerges. For this process to bring about a true balance, it requires the stakeholder groups to be of adequate diversity and be balanced within.
For example, in the Interent Governance arena, Business stakeholder group largely comprises Internet Infrastructure companies, Internet Equipment Manufactures, Telecommunication Companies, Internet Service providers, Domain Industry, which are all from business sectors that derive direct revenue from the Internet. Is there sufficient diversity within this stakeholder group? Should other category of Information Technology Companies, such as Software or IT Services companies that depend on Internet be encouraged to participate in this policy debate process? Woud their views as large commercial users of Internet Services differ from that of companies who are providers of some form of service to connect to the Internet? Would there be a greater diversity of inputs if there is participation from representatives from the automobile, travel, healthcare, cinema, media or the banking sector? To many of these segments, Interent is a business life line and the Global Internet Policy would have a definite impact in their business progress.
Though Business representaives from different business sectors "feed into the work and positions that the International Chamber of Commerce advocate[s]" as a participant, the IGF could gain inputs of greater diversity if the size and diversity of direct participants from the Business Stakeholder group is enhanced.
There is a similar need for enhanced diversity within the stakeholder groups of Government and Civil Society.
This workshop would deliberate on questions pertinent to the broad stakeholder groups of Business, Government and Civil Society with a view to identify ways of attaining intra-stakeholder diversity and balance so as to strengthen the multi-stakeholder process as also to improve confidence in the multi-stakeholder model of Governance.
This workshop deliberated on questions pertinent to the broad stakeholder groups of Business, Government and Civil Society with a view to identify ways of attaining intra-stakeholder diversity and balance so as to strengthen the multi-stakeholder process as also to improve confidence in the multi-stakeholder model of Governance. There are a variety of issues that need to be examined at IGF. The issues could be understood and deliberated in greater depth and detail with greater diversity of participation.
Some of the panelists remarked that they "have a problem seeing a problem", almost in the sense that there is enough diversity already. However, the need for greater diversity was expressed by most of the panelists.
There is clearly a diversity among the Stakeholder groups. They are more or less equally represented between 22 and 24%. 22% technical and academic communities. 21% Civil Society. 24% Government. 23% private sector. And then intergovernmental organizations was 7% and 3% media. That is a fairly fair distribution of the Stakeholder groups. Within the Stakeholder groups I take the point that diversity could be improved Internet Governance is still a fairly abstract issue for many people. As of now we have a fairly purposeful diversity. Intra‑Stakeholder and Multi‑Stakeholder participation could be improved going a little more focused on specific issues may help us to get more participation.
Council of Europe recommended the inclusion of the elderly and youth, inclsion of consumer organizations and teachers. As regards Government participation, Governments could coordinate better at the national level so as to be prepared to speak in a unified voice at the global forum.
In all Stakeholder groups that one gets a certain amount of separation between those who become the thought leaders and the main organizers and shakers and doers and the larger community for whom they claim to speak all the time. That is something that we need to work on.
They are nuances that we have to understand on the bigger challenges faced by Civil Society.
Civil Society also happens to be a collection of single issue special interests or a few special issue interests. Who determines how that happens in Civil Society. Is it the aggregate of all demands? Is it some balance nuance among the demands? how can Civil Society reflect an interest in silent majority on the rest of as opposed to an aggregate of many, many demands?
There are also participation problems for Civil Society in some countries to take part in Internet Governance, for example, in Tunisia. The other problem has to do with lack of awareness, the fact that Internet Governance processes are not well covered by the media. One of the reasons for the lack of involvement just again has to do with the invisibility in a way of Internet Governance processes to anybody except for a very small circle of people.
There is a need to have more diversity in business participation at the IGF. There is a reason to get involved and there is a reason to participate. People will participate if they understand why they need to participate.
Different priorities will be better understood if there is direct participation. If we go by the argument that all the businesses of the World represented by ICC, all the Governments would be represented by one Government or a regional Government and all the World's Civil Society would be represented by one politician. Then IGF would be reduced to a discussion around the coffee table.
It is also important to remember that the problems of resources, distance and language come in the way of participation, both direct and remote participation.
It is important to create awareness about the significance of Internet Governance. Under the umbrella of United Nations we could start a program for Internet Governance to educate more people on Internet Governance.