[bestbits] [governance] Second WGEC meeting26-27 January 2017, Geneva

parminder parminder at itforchange.net
Mon Jan 30 11:46:53 EST 2017

Hi All

Let me share my views and assessment about the WG on Enhanced
Cooperation, of which I was nominated by civil society to be a member.

First of all, the central issue of what has been called as "enhanced
cooperation" in Tunis Agenda is the need for developing international
Internet related public policies. The central issue is not cooperation
among whom - only governments, or across stakeholders' this is a
secondary and a follow-up issue.

What we therefore need to agree first is whether or not there is a need
for developing international Internet-related public policies; in the
same way that WHO does for health, UNESCO for education, UNEP for
environment, UNDP for development, and so on.

Do note that these UN agencies do not "control" the respective sectors
worldwide, just because they are UN agencies tasked with dealing with
these sectors internationally. I say this because the  bogie of
"control" of the Internet gets raised immediately as one proposes a
similar UN body for looking into international public policy aspects for
the Internet. For instance, education is almost as sensitive a sector,
politically and culturally, as the Internet, but UNESCO is universally
acknowledged to have done very good and useful work internationally in
this sector - especially for developing countries - without
"controlling" education.

Now, if we agree that international Internet related public policies
indeed need to be developed -- then we can come to question of who
should do so.

Public policy is a specific political construct. Every policy is not
public policy - for instance, technical policies as developed by
technical bodies is not public policy unless they are so designated by
an authorised public body.

Public policies are definitionally developed by government, or those who
represent people or groups of people -- however imperfect be the process
of such representation.

 The first para of the Wikipedia entry on "public policy" defines it as

    "*Public policy* is the principled guide to action taken by the
    administrative executive branches
    <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executive_%28government%29> of the
    state <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_%28polity%29> with regard
    to a class of issues, in a manner consistent with law
    <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law> and institutional customs

and the second para as;

    "Other scholars define public policy as a system of "courses of
    action, regulatory <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regulation>
    measures, laws <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law>, and funding
    <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Funding> priorities concerning a
    given topic promulgated by a governmental entity or its

I hope we do not mean to redefine what is public policy. To get to the
core of this issue; corporations cannot sit with governments on an equal
footing to make public policy, which is what many people actually
advocate here. We need to make our position clear on this one central
issue, as civil society actors associated with IG. It is time we come
out clean on this, and leave obfuscations behind. If we can agree on
this one issue I am sure we can agree on all.

Participation in public policy making, as inputting, advising,
developing its initial discourse (as with the IGF) is an entirely
different matter. That comes AFTER there comes into existence a
mechanism for public policy making. For instance, there would be
absolutely no point in developing an extensive public consultation,
inputting, policy discussions, etc around health policies in a country
if there existed no actual mechanism for making any such policy.

That is the situation at the global level on Internet issues. We have
well-developed mechanism for public policy dialogue on Internet issues
in the form of the IGF, but have no place to actually develop such
public policies. This renders the policy dialogue space itself
increasingly less and less useful, as has been happening with the IGF.

It was the express intent of Tunis Agenda to create a multistakeholder
policy dialogue space (the IGF) and a governmental policy making space
(the proposed new mechanism for "enhanced cooperation") as two distinct
but conjoined institutional mechanisms. Any mis-conception in this
regard was cleared by subsequent UN resolutions that expressly said that
the IGF and "enhanced cooperation" were distinct but complementing
spaces. The intended institutional design could not be clearer --
although I do admit that exactly how governments should develop
International Internet-related public policies remain a contested issue.

But this contestation is made much worse by actors who - for whatever
reasons - keep confusing and conflating (1) pre- public policy
development processes of inputs, advice, dialogue, etc, and (2) actual
public policy development processes (where, as said, one certainly can
not have corporations sit on equal footing with govs to make public policy).

One earnestly hopes that it is time that we get out of this confusion/
conflation which has no basis in democratic political theory. Public
policy has a specific political meaning and we cannot afford to use this
term loosely. It is the very basis of democratic thinking, in that
public policy can only be made by representatives of people, and groups
of people. Corporations certainly have no vote here.

On the other hand, everyone must be consulted, given a chance to input
and participate in pre public policy dialogues, which happens at the IGF..

If we indeed agree to come out of this very problematic confusion/
conflation, we can then actually discuss what would be the best means to
develop international Internet-related public policies, the real and in
fact the only pertinent question under the "enhanced cooperation"
related discussions. And this alone is the subject matter for the
consideration of the WG on Enhanced Cooperation.

Having given the needed background, I will describe what is happening at
the WGEC in another email, in a short while.


On Monday 30 January 2017 09:07 PM, WANGARI KABIRU wrote:
> Many thanks Anriette for the brief and the references are clarifying!
> Be blessed.
> Regards/Wangari
> ---
> Pray God Bless. 2013Wangari circa - "Being of the Light, We are
> Restored Through Faith in Mind, Body and Spirit; We Manifest The
> Kingdom of God on Earth".
> On Monday, 30 January 2017, 16:16, Anriette Esterhuysen
> <anriette at apc.org> wrote:
> Dear Wangari
> Apologies for delay in responding.
> It is an interesting question, and it goes to the heart of the enhanced
> cooperation debate, which in many ways is at the heart of the internet
> governance debate that has been ongoing since 2003.
> The term was first used in 2005 - and it means different things to
> different people, and the text in the Tunis Agenda where it is first
> references in a formal UN agreement, can also be interpreted in
> different ways.
> For the last decade it has been used as a political football.. in one of
> those matches in which it is not clear if anyone actually scores any
> goals. In fact, for some of the players, the objective of the match has
> been to avoid anyone scoring any goals :)
> This is a good recent piece by David Souter:
> https://www.apc.org/en/blog/inside-information-society-enhanced-cooperation-en
> I quote from it:
> "‘Enhanced cooperation’, like the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), was
> part of the compromise on the future of the Internet at WSIS in 2005.
> Agreement could not be reached on the governance of critical Internet
> resources, including the domain name system. ICANN (the Internet
> Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), for some governments, was
> little more than an adjunct of the United States. Some wanted the
> Internet brought within the ambit of an intergovernmental (or
> multilateral) agency such as the International Telecommunication Union
> (ITU). Others were, as they remain, determined to keep the Internet free
> from intergovernmental oversight. As well as dividing governments, this
> was (and is) therefore a tussle between multilateral and
> multistakeholder approaches to the Internet.
> The term worked at the time because of its creative ambiguity: like many
> UN outcomes it meant different things to different folks. But the
> contests that it overlay were, and still are, unresolved. Several UN
> initiatives and working groups have failed to reach consensus on it
> since the Summit. Some governments (and civil society activists) claim
> that nothing’s changed since WSIS: that governments, particularly
> developing country governments, can’t play a substantive role in
> Internet decisions because there is no proper intergovernmental forum.
> Others suggest that diverse multistakeholder initiatives represent a lot
> of ‘enhanced cooperation’ that’s already taking place."
> So in response to your question, it is not a new thing that for several
> governments, the meaning of enhanced cooperation is "cooperation between
> governments". And the term 'equal footing' means that all governments
> should have equal access and voice in these processes.
> They generally quote paragraph 69 of the Tunis Agenda:
> "69. We further recognize the need for enhanced cooperation in the
> future, to enable governments, on an equal footing, to carry out their
> roles and responsibilities, in international public policy issues
> pertaining to the Internet, but not in the day-to-day technical and
> operational matters, that do not impact on international public policy
> issues."
> And their position is that the IGF has nothing to do with this type of
> cooperation.
> Personally, I think this is misinterpreting the Tunis Agenda. If you
> read the two previous paragraphs, 67 and 68, there is a clear reference
> to the IGF (referred to in the Tunis Agenda as "the forum for
> multi-stakeholder policy dialogue". I quote:
> "67. We agree, inter alia, to invite the UN Secretary-General to convene
> a new forum for multi-stakeholder policy dialogue.
> 68. We recognize that all governments should have an equal role and
> responsibility for international Internet governance and for ensuring
> the stability, security and continuity of the Internet. We also
> recognize the need for development of public policy by governments in
> consultation with all stakeholders.
> 69. We further recognize the need for enhanced cooperation in the
> future, to enable governments, on an equal footing, to carry out their
> roles and responsibilities, in international public policy issues
> pertaining to the Internet, but not in the day-to-day technical and
> operational matters, that do not impact on international public policy
> issues."
> My interpretation would be that these paragraphs talks about the forum,
> about involvement of all stakeholders, and about the need for
> governments to be able to play their role in international public policy.
> These area all important and legitimate and they don't need to be
> mutually exclusive.
> But there are different views, and there was a General Assembly
> resolution in 2011 or 2012 which stated that the IGF and enhanced
> cooperation are two separate processes.
> I do think governments have a legitimate point in saying that they need
> a space where they can talk about 'cross cutting' internet-related
> public policy issues. Specific issues are being addressed in places like
> the Human Rights Council (for internet and human rights issues) or in
> WIPO (for copyright related issues, for example).
> And I also think that developing countries are not sufficiently
> empowered or influential in most internet-related policy discussions.
> I just don't believe that setting up a new intergovernmental mechanism
> is the right solution to this problem. And it is one that is high risk
> for civil society.
> But others in the WGEC have different views.
> Warm greetings and thanks for following the meeting!
> Anriette
> On 27/01/2017 19:38, WANGARI KABIRU wrote:
> > Warm greetings Anriette,
> >
> > In the morning there was reference in the semblance that enhanced
> > cooperation is a government area not for the IGF...MAG.
> > Would you kindly shed light.
> >
> >
> > The comments;
> > -  that statistics in developing countries are a result of tradeoffs and
> > thus not (necessarily) reliable
> > - how an entity is considered multi-stakeholder in one forum and in
> > other spheres not viewed as such. Taking into account
> > multi-stakholderism is a key tenet in Internet Governance
> >
> > Many thanks for the briefs.
> >
> > Be blessed.
> >
> > Regards/Wangari
> > 
> > ---
> > Pray God Bless. 2013Wangari circa - "Being of the Light, We are Restored
> > Through Faith in Mind, Body and Spirit; We Manifest The Kingdom of God
> > on Earth".
> >
> >
> >
> -- 
> -----------------------------------------
> Anriette Esterhuysen
> Executive Director
> Association for Progressive Communications
> anriette at apc.org <mailto:anriette at apc.org>
> www.apc.org
> IM: ae_apc
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