[governance] Muti-stakeholder Group structure (some ideas)

Bertrand de La Chapelle bdelachapelle at gmail.com
Fri Jun 1 02:22:55 EDT 2007

Dear Karl, dear all,

Thanks for the interest and remarks. I'll try some answers to the key
comments that require clarification on my part. Apologies for not addressing
all comments here. Will come back to them later if needed.

1) For Karl (on individuals,people and stakeholders)

Avri Doria had pointed me long ago to a post of yours regarding the notion
of "stakeholders" and I have intended for a long time to contact you on
that, to express how much I agree on the importance of individuals. Your
very well formulated post is a perfect opportunity to clarify things.

Let it be said loud and clear here : individuals are indeed stakeholders,
not only organizations. Better, they *are* the stakeholders, and
organizations are only, as you mention, the "aggregates" they choose to
present their views in processes.

Therefore my reference to stakeholders does include you and McTim, and me
too by the way when I participated in the WSIS on a personal basis. As you
formulated yourself : "Every person who uses the internet has a stake in the
internet". I would even go further to take Parminder's remarks on a previous
thread : people who do not use the Internet today are also stakeholders
regarding its evolution and usage, because its governance may impact
them. In rough terms, a stakeholder is an individual or organization that
has a concern or interest in an issue, that has an impact on it or is
impacted by it. How they can all be involved in the discussions is a process
question, not a principle question : the question is How, not whether.

The founding principle/spirit of a multi-stakeholder governance process is
therefore something like : "Any person has the right to participate in the
governance of the issues of interest or concern to him/her. Specific
processes established to facilitate the elaboration, adoption or
implementation of regimes must guarantee transparency, inclusion and

This concept is central to what we all have the responsibility to create. It
certainly deserves a thorough discussion beyond this post. But, to alleviate
your legitimate fears that the notion of stakeholder is understood at the
conceptual level as meaning only organizations and not individuals, I would
like to underline that :
- the Internet Governance Caucus has only individual members, as described
in its Charter : "The members of the IGC are individuals, acting in personal
capacity, who subscribe to the charter of the caucus. All members are equal
and have the same rights and duties." If, as I mentionned, the IGCaucus is
used to designate / propose members of a MAG, then individuals like youself
are clearly engaged;
- the IGF itself, in Athens and for the open consultations, in large part
thanks to Vittorio's insistence and I believe your own remarks, allowed
people to register in their personal capacity, which, to my knowledge is an
absolute first for anything connected to the UN - and shoud be preserved as
much as possible.

I stop on this post to address the other issues, but understand this is just
a stage in the discussion and am willing to engage. I suggest we start a
separate thread on this notion of stakeholders. Long overdue and critical.

2) For Mike (Gurstein)

As I've had the opportunity to mention in other posts, participants in
multi-stakeholder processes do not and should not "represent" people or
organizations in the traditional sense of representative democracy, meaning
taking decisions in their place. They represent viewpoints, the diversity of
viewpoints. The purpose of a multi-stakeholder deliberation, in my view, is
to make sure that all facets of a given issue (technical, social, economic
and policy) are taken into account in the discussion from the onset, before
rushing towards the drafting of a "solution". As we can witness in the ICANN
whois debate, involvement of all categories of actors is critical to
understand completely an issue.

Therefore, the question should never be : "how many divisions ?" (ie how
many members does this person "represent"). Because we do not talk about
voting here, but about thorough examination of issues, discussion, democracy
through deliberation. And therefore the right question is : does this person
help understand a specific dimension of the issue or the position and
interests of a given group of actors, does this person contribute
constructively to a better common understanding ? The primary goal is
consensus building in the analysis of an issue, not weighted voting. The
question is participation, not representation. A single individual with good
ideas is much more important to these processes than the "representative" of
an organization claiming millions of members who have never heard of the
positions he/she is taking publicly in a given process.

The right question in your comments is : how to ensure outreach (reporting /
information on what is happening to the "outside") and reduce the barrier to
engagement (remote participation, online tools, travel support, etc...). But
on that I share Milton's remarks : "getting people involved in something is
far more complex than inviting them" and "the infrastructure for mass
participation is always built by a small dedicated group that labors inthe
wilderness for years, sometimes decades, before anyone pays attention." At
the end of the day, this is what these discussions are about : building an
infrastructure for Internet Governance, a set of principles or protocols
that allow an heterogeneous set of governance structures (national, private,
etc..) to interoperate and behave as an integrated seamless whole. This is
only the beggining and we are all trying to find the founding principles.
But representation (in the sense of voting and elections) is probably not
the good basis for this new paradigm, however preseent this model is to us.

3) For Milton (on International organizations)

The comments above may clarify a bit how the notion of stakeholders apply to
international organizations and what concerns "representation".

Unfortunately, I need to go catch a flight and cannot elaborate now on the
issue of organizations, but will come back to it when I can.

Anyway, you already have enough prose of mine for the moment .... :-)



On 5/31/07, Karl Auerbach <karl at cavebear.com> wrote:

> I tend to feel rather uncomfortable with your formulation because it
> doesn't seem to include people.
> For example, your formulation excludes me.
> As you know, I do not believe that any aggregation - whether we call it
> a corporation, a government, a "stakeholder", an NGO, or "civil society"
> - ought not to have automatic recognition as being anything more than a
> convenient means for people to aggregate their individual opinions and
> views.
> It is always useful to hear the opinions expressed via these aggregates.
> And it is true that many, perhaps most, people will chose (usually
> through inaction) to let some aggregate express an opinion on their
> behalf.
> But when it comes down making choices and measuring "consensus" (or some
> other more concrete measure), in other words when it comes to counting
> noses, we ought to count real noses on real people and not some
> hypothetical and arbitrary notion that these aggregations actually speak
> with authority.
> I see further risk in that this kind of creation of a "multi-stakeholder
> system" will ossify very quickly into a kind of internet caste system.
> Do we really want the governance of the internet to resemble a medieval
> feudal society in which people have rank and authority based on what
> groups they are in?
>                --karl--

Bertrand de La Chapelle
Tel : +33 (0)6 11 88 33 32

"Le plus beau métier des hommes, c'est d'unir les hommes" Antoine de Saint
("there is no better mission for humans than uniting humans")
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.igcaucus.org/pipermail/governance/attachments/20070601/d484c368/attachment.htm>
-------------- next part --------------
An embedded and charset-unspecified text was scrubbed...
Name: message-footer.txt
URL: <http://lists.igcaucus.org/pipermail/governance/attachments/20070601/d484c368/attachment.txt>

More information about the Governance mailing list