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

Lea Kaspar lea at gp-digital.org
Mon Jan 30 13:36:33 EST 2017

Dear Anriette, all,

(I'm writing here in my capacity as another CS-selected member of the WGEC
who participated in last week's proceedings)

This really is a great summary of the current debate - thank you for
sharing it on the lists and for sharing David's blog post.

I'm interested in understanding better two points you raise towards the end
of your post (and which summarise how some stakeholders are framing the

1) lack of space for governments to discuss cross-cutting internet-related
pp issues and;
2) lack of sufficient empowerment/ influence in most internet-related
policy discussions by developing country governments.

The problem could of course be framed in different ways, depending on one's
starting position and definition of EC. I just saw Parminder's email to
that effect which is very thoughtful and can serve as a starting point for
further discussion. But leaving that aside for the moment, I am interested
in understanding better the two points identified above. This is because
I've seen these arguments emerge in last week's discussions and would like
to be able to engage with them 'on an equal footing' :).

On the first point, and apologies if this comes off as naive, but what is
behind the position that governments need a space where they can talk about
'cross cutting' internet-related public policy issues? What's driving it? I
know for some governments it's partly (geo)political posturing, but beyond
that, and especially for developing country governments - where should one
look to better understand the substantive argument that supports this

On the second point, which I've heard raised many times, I'd be interested
to hear whether people think this is changing due to the proliferation of
internet related pp issues across the international policy landscape (UNGA,
HRC, AU, ITU, ASEAN...). True, in some processes this may indeed be the
case (e.g. OECD, London Process?), but there are many others that
increasingly deal with internet related PP where the voices of developing
country governments are anything but powerless. In fact, in the three UNGA
committees which deal with issues such as cybersecurity (1st committee),
WSIS (2nd committee), and privacy (3rd committee), the G77 hold the
majority vote. The situation is not much different in the ITU and a number
of other bodies. Is this problem likely to loose its grounding or even
relevance with the changing nature of the landscape?

Thanks in advance for the openness in reading these questions. They are
addressed to anyone who can shine light on them, and raised in the spirit
of encouraging an informed debate on these issues.

On a general note - I would really encourage people to engage in this
debate if they are interested. Governments on the WGEC seem to hold rather
polarising positions, and I think this opens the opportunity for civil
society to play a bridging role in shaping the group's outcomes. With
modalities allowing observers to actively participate in the meetings, you
can engage directly or channel your views via others.

In any case, looking forward to people's views and comments.

Best wishes,

ps - I'm not on the IGC/APC lists so my posts don't go through there, but
feel free to loop the lists back in for those who are on them

On Mon, Jan 30, 2017 at 3:33 PM, matthew shears <mshears at cdt.org> wrote:

> + 1 Anriette - very nicely summarized.
> On 30/01/2017 14:16, Anriette Esterhuysen 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".
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> --
> ------------
> Matthew Shears
> Global Internet Policy and Human Rights
> Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT)+ 44 771 2472987 <+44%207712%20472987>
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