[governance] Enhanced Cooperation

michael_leibrandt at web.de michael_leibrandt at web.de
Wed Jan 10 13:36:13 EST 2007

hi there,

just in case some people knowing me find it frightening to see my name popping
up at a civil society list: after nine years of service as the german gac rep,
i left the ict directorate of the federal economics ministry with the beginning
of 2007. though still in the administration, i’m  professionally now dealing
with issues lightyears away from internet governance. due to the fact that my
personal envolvement in ict issues goes back at least three decades, i will
contribute to the discussion with my very personal observations on internet
governance as a private internet user. no longer beeing bound by instructions
and the golden rules of diplomatic language, please don’t be surprised if i
will be more outspoken than i was on earlier occasions.  

having said that, i have a serious problem to follow the ongoing discussion on
enhanced cooperation. from my point of view, there is absolutely no need to
read the aweful last-minute language from tunis over and over again like a law
student or a religious believer. actually, things are pretty easy: the only
valuable starting point is the spirit of the outcome as seen by those who
finally agreed to the wording. is there anybody who really believes that after
two years of (very) difficult intergovernmental negotiations the only intention
was to say that existing constituencies should improve the way they
communicate? in fact, the core outcome is that – besides the igf as discussion
forum – there are two seperate ec streams: a) looking at the weak role of
governments in a mainly industry-driven internet governance environment, the
first idea is to upgrade governments to equal players in existing
multistakeholder fora (the icann issue), and b) looking at infrastructure
issues beyond the icann mandate, quite a number of governments ask for a fair
global power distribution (the oversight issue). so: we have the government vs
government ec (68 ta), and we have the governments vs others ec (69 ta). baring
this concept in mind, the tunis language becomes much more readable. 

now the second part: the multistakeholder concept. again, i think that’s easy
to answer, at least by accepting political reality. 69 ta can only be done in a
full multistakeholder setting. but 68 ta – by intention talking about
consultation, not participation - is such a delicate political challenge, that
it would be naive to expect openness and transparancy at all stages of the
process. imagine that the present or another usg would start thinking about a
new oversight modell for the root zone (e. g. the famous root zone council
model): is it realistic to believe that civil society reps would be invited to
the initial rounds of negotiations? is it realistic to believe that even all
governments would be invited? i don’t think so. what does this mean for the
proposed letter to nitin: well, it’s an important signal and should be sent
out, because he has a role to play regarding 68. but don’t expect an answer
that gives you the full picture…

is 68 ta against the multistakeholder approach? talking about sitting at the
negotiation table, yes. talking about participating in the discussion, no.
participation shouldn’t be the core issue, ideas should. there is a desperate
need – not at least on the governmental side - for good ideas regarding future
governance settings; proposals coming from business and civil society would
therefore be well received. and secondly: there is not only the global level.
at least in democracies there are ways to influence the position of national
and regional governments.

one final comment: i don’t find it helpful to follow an either/or approach
regarding the question of „what is public policy“. simply because it depends on
the individual case. new gtld: .car or .holiday don’t have a lot of public
policy implications, .xxx or .berlin really have. „who is“: regarding the
primary use of the data (=technical stability of the net) – only to a minor
extent, regarding the secondary use of „who is“ data (=copyright infringement
etc) – yes (and actually compelety outside the clearly limited icann mandate!).

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