[bestbits] WGEC fails to give any recommendation

parminder parminder at itforchange.net
Thu Feb 1 10:11:58 EST 2018

The following is the initial political statement on the failure of the
WGEC to come up with any recommendation which has been developed on the
behalf of many civil society groups I work with. A more elaborate
collectively developed statement will follow.


    The UN CSTD Working Group On Enhanced Cooperation (on International
    public policies pertaining to the Internet) was tasked with
    developing institutional proposals towards appropriate global
    governance of the Internet, and the larger digital phenomenon. After
    five meeting over two years, it wound up yesterday, 31st January,
    without giving any recommendation.

    We are extremely disappointed at this continued abdication by the
    governments and the UN system of what is one of the most important
    public policy and governance requirements today. It will astonish
    ordinary people on the streets to know that the governments of the
    world and the UN think that all is well with the global Internet and
    the global digital phenomenon, and with its social, economic,
    political, social and cultural effects. And, that people should just
    get on with it with no need for any globally democratic development
    of norms, principles, polices and laws in this all important area.
    As one delegate put it succinctly at the Working Group meeting, to
    the effect, that we are kidding ourselves if we think that
    international law does not need to – and would not eventually – come
    to the Internet. Well, we do not think it is kidding though. It is
    all bare knuckle adult stuff, of protecting very narrow commercial
    and political interests, and letting the global public interest sink
    in the bargain.

    But let us beware, we would sink together if we do not develop means
    to float together. As the Internet/ digital becomes key of all our
    social structures, what provides us the means of collective floating
    (or non-sinking) are the appropriate and adequate global mechanisms
    for Internet’s governance in public interest. We seem to be just
    waiting for some catastrophic events to force us to begin doing what
    we must; which is never a sane course of action. We once again
    appeal to the leaders of the global community to abandon this
    dangerous and suicidal path of abdication. Let us contribute to
    building the required global political institutions for the fast
    emerging global digital society – which will ensure the rule of law,
    and people’s safety, happiness, prosperity, equity and social justice.

    The Working Group gathered all views – including through public
    comments – on various institutional responses that may be
    appropriate to meet the needs of global governance of the Internet/
    digital phenomenon. Some of these views, especially a common
    proposal by many members of the Working Group, present clear ways
    forward for setting up a new global institution for Internet’s
    governance. What is required now is political will, at the highest
    level, to take this proposal forward and implement it. This task is
    best suited for the UN General Assembly which should undertake a
    dedicated discussion on this subject, taking into account various
    institutional proposals that were submitted to and discussed by the
    Working Group.

    The G 77 group of developing countries already made a written
    initial proposal for a new institutional mechanism in 2014 during
    the preparatory process of the ten year review of the World Summit
    on the Information Society. In this statement it was agreed that the
    proposal will be further fleshed out in terms of specific details of
    such an institutional mechanism. The inputs to, and the
    deliberations of, the Working Group now provide enough material to
    undertake this task which should urgently be taken up by G 77, and
    other supporting countries, and a full proposal made in this regard
    to the UN General Assembly later this year.

IT for Change, and other civil society organisations


Thanks, and best regards, parminder

On Thursday 01 February 2018 08:38 PM, parminder wrote:
> The UN General Assembly mandated Working Group on Enhanced Cooperation
> (on international Internet related public policies) which was tasked
> to develop institutional means for appropriate governance of the
> global Internet folded up yesterday after 4 years of work ( 2 years
> each of two versions) without making any recommendation. I wrote the
> following email to the group that lays out how I see the group's work,
> especially its failure to come up with any recommendation...
> parminder
> -------- Forwarded Message --------
> Subject: 	thanks, goodbye, and a few reflections on WGEC
> Date: 	Thu, 1 Feb 2018 19:22:35 +0530
> From: 	parminder <parminder.js at gmail.com>
> To: 	CSTD-WGEC at unctad.org <CSTD-WGEC at unctad.org>, stdev
> <stdev at unctad.org>
> Dear All
> As the two years of WGEC end (4 for me, continuing from the last
> WGEC), one departs with a lot of learning, growth and good memoires.
> Thank you all for being a part of it. I wish to say farewell to all,
> till we meet again!
> On the work side: after a night’s sleep over it, this is what I feel
> about the WGEC’s work.
> There were promising exciting moments in the last hours. If these
> could have come earlier it might just have been possible for us to
> have made some progress. But then, unfortunately, they did not. In the
> end, my summative assessment is as follows. It would have been nice to
> have had a report, but it is more truthful that there isnt one. That
> is the true reflection of the state of affairs. And while we have
> responsibilities to ourselves and to the group of nice-ness and
> collegiality, there is a much higher responsibility of telling the
> undiluted truth to the global public.
> And the truth is that on the matter of how public governance of the
> global Internet and the digital phenomenon should be undertaken in the
> UN, we today are even more apart then we were even at the WSIS. A good
> proof of it comes from examining what was the central piece of the
> excitement of the last hours yesterday (an excitement, I admit, I
> shared in the room at that time.). At Tunis, the global community
> could agree that (1) the current mechanisms of global public
> governance of the Internet were inadequate ( Tunis Agenda, para 60),
> and (2) urgent further work is needed that “could envisage creation of
> a suitable framework or mechanisms…” ( para 61). Seventeen years after
> WSIS, when theInternet/ digital has transformed the world beyond what
> anyone could haveimaginedin Tunis, and there are unthinkably
> monumental governance needs and challenges, a weak formulation that we
> can continue to consider “the possibility of new [institutional
> approaches]” was offered as the “big” (and the only) carrot. That too
> only in the last few hours.
> And then is was quickly withdrawn, seeminglyin exchange of putting, in
> a portion of the report that mentioned“the keyissues discussed” (and
> of course non agreed ), a para or two each of the two key divergent
> positions on the need fornew institutional development. This would
> just have been a factual statement of what actually got presented and
> discussed, but not agreed.While I myself shared in the excited
> possibility of us getting some agreement somehow, it is evident that
> this was much less that what the Tunis Agenda already mentions.
> Although it is admittedlybetter that what has evergot into the texts
> since then, which was why some of us wereready to take it, until the
> offer got withdrawn. This is where the negotiations collapsed, as time
> was in any case not on our side.
> A “no report” therefore conveys the fact of the matter more truthfully
> to our constituents that a report that, apologies the for dismissive
> tone, but, honestly, largely said things to the effect that “people in
> the world should be more honest and friendly”. Would such a reporthave
> representedprogress? Not in my view. It would more likely have been a
> smoke screen of seemingprogress on the subject, for some unnecessary
> months or years, which would have onlyretardedurgent consideration of
> this most important global public policy imperative, whichis required
> right now. We are already late in fact.
> So rather than rue that we could not agree to some weak and largely
> meaningless report regardinghow global public governance of the
> Internet (and the digital phenomenon) should be done, let us be
> satisfied that we put inour best efforts to converge, and then
> honestly we let the world know that there does notyet exist the
> political will to develop appropriate global mechanismsof public
> governance of the Internet. Even in tragedy, honestly serves better
> that superfluous make-believes thatcould elevate one’sspirits
> temporarily. Thepublic interest is served best by stating the actual
> fact, and we did that by the act of “no report”.
> I much thank Amb Benedicto for his exceptionally patient, inclusive
> and capable handling of a very difficult discussion. Special kudos for
> the secretariat for providing high quality professional helpthat never
> slipped, which letour work go on sosmoothly.
> And a warm thanks and goodbye to all members.
> Best regards
> parminder

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