Finding ways to build confidence in stakeholder legitimacy

9 December 2016 - A Workshop on Other in Guadalajara, Mexico


Legitimacy of multistakeholder IG processes and outcomes are inextricably linked with participants’ legitimacy and accountability. Critics of multistakeholder IG point to lack of clarity over who participates and what institution/organization/entity they represent. They see incongruity when individual stakeholders offer personal opinions alongside representatives of organized collections of individuals, representatives of entities/interest groups, and government representatives who see themselves as responsible for meeting the needs of millions of citizens. 

While supporters of multistakeholder IG believe the openness of IG processes is one of its core strengths, for critics, this openness can enable “bad actors” and others to “capture” or distort what should be consensus-based decision-making process. The result is that critics of multistakeholderism, and marginalized voices in IG processes, have less confidence in IG processes to contribute, as part of the WSIS and SDG frameworks, to achieving inclusive and sustainable growth.

Many multistakeholder IG processes have rudimentary ways to prioritize views of representatives of groups over individuals. e.g.:

  • CSTD’s working groups asked stakeholder groups to nominate a limited number of representatives
  • ICANN’s Cross-Community Working Groups prioritize representatives of ICANN constituencies (“members”) over individuals (“observers/participants”).

However, there are other ways stakeholders can achieve disproportionate influence, including:

  • Informal sources of power (expertise, seniority/age, ubiquitous presence)
  • Misrepresenting the size and decision-making processes of a group a stakeholder asserts to represent

This workshop will build on the Multistakeholder BPF and stakeholder legitimacy and accountability work in other sectors to identify and manage challenges in IG stakeholder legitimacy.

Background paper (PDF)

Breakout group documents:
(These are fully editable, so feel free to add your responses to the topics directly into the documents at any time before the session as well as during the session)

  1. Is there a need to prove the legitimacy of stakeholder groups and their members, and if so, what are ways that legitimacy can be established?
  2. Stakeholder groups and their configurations
  3. Levels of stakeholder representation (individuals through to aggregated groupings)
  4. How do stakeholders manage the participation of entities or individuals that are not deemed to have a high level of legitimacy in a process?


Breakout group facilitators:

Tereza Horejsova

Dominique Lazanski

Jim Prendergast

Samantha Dickinson

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