Threats to multistakeholder Internet Governance.– is it worth protecting?

8 November 2012 - A Workshop on Enhanced Cooperation in Baku, Azerbaijan

Agenda

"Internet governance is the development and application by governments, the private sector and civil society, in their respective roles, of shared principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures, and programmes that shape the evolution and use of the Internet." Tunis Agenda for the Information Society

Anyone who has attended an Internet Governance Forum has heard people singing the praises of multi-stakeholder governance of the Internet. On the whole, there is general agreement that governance structures should remain dispersed, multi-stakeholder and bottom-up, rather than top-down and controlled by governments. And there are a number of models developing which seek to address internet governance issues in multi-stakeholder ways including at ICANN, the Council of Europe and of course, the IGF.

But multi-stakeholderism is far from uncontroversial – both as a theory, and in terms of how it works in practice. How does multistakeholder governance relate to important governance principles like: representation, participation, accountability, responsibility, transparency, and efficiency? These are difficult questions that too often are swept under the carpet. But in recent years we are seeing more and more challenges to multistakeholder governance, paving the way for governments to exercise far more control.

If we want to protect multi-stakeholder governance, we need to scrutinise exactly what it is we are protecting. It is time to reconsider and revive the concept and practice of multistakeholder governance. This workshop seeks to address this challenge head on by examining some key questions:

Who gets to participate in internet governance processes (and who is excluded or underrepresented)? What incentive do different stakeholders have to engage in these policy processes? What legitimacy do different stakeholders have to influence policy? Is multistakeholder governance non-democratic? Where are “users” and “citizens” wants and needs expressed in the current regime? How do we explain, and justify, multistakeholder governance to the general public?

AGENDA

Introductions (15 mins)
Framing the issues and a short introduction from each panelist.

An analysis of multi-stakeholder participation as a concept (30 mins)
What legitimacy do different stakeholders have to influence policy? Is multi-stakeholder governance non-democratic? How do we explain, and justify, multi-stakeholder governance to the general public?
Panelists: Bertrand De La Chappelle, Anriette Esterhuysen, Franklin Silva Netto

How is multi-stakeholder participation working at present?(60 mins)
Who gets to participate in internet governance processes (and who is excluded or underrepresented)? How is it working in practice? Are there important IG spaces which are not practicing multi-stakeholder participation? What is the effect of this?
Panelists: Jeremy Malcolm, Theresa Swineheart, Bitange Ndemo, Philip Veveer

Wrap up and key lessons (15 mins)