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

William Drake drake at hei.unige.ch
Fri Jun 1 04:29:22 EDT 2007


A couple of points on Willie's "Gramsci does IG" post...

On 6/1/07 12:50 AM, "wcurrie at apc.org" <wcurrie at apc.org> wrote:

> I wonder in reading the discussion how the notion of 'hegemony' might come
> into play here. The response to the counter-hegemonic thrust of civil society
> activism in WGIG, in the WSIS was to win a position that no single government
> should have pre-eminence in IG. This conclusion was accompanied by four

FWIW, while there are bits that can be attributed to CS, most notably the
forum, I would attribute that 'win' to the G77 and EU.  We echoed but were
not the main voice.


> consultations in Geneva. It appears that critical internet resources will be
> accepted as a theme for discussion in Rio. A veiled threat of the withdrawl of
> funding for the IGF is made from the ranks of the hegemonic bloc. (I should
> point out that I am using the notion of hegemonic bloc as a descriptive term
> to indicate where power lies in the arena of internet governance and not in
> any pejorative way - as a simple statement of fact, if you will)  A number

I didn't hear this threat at the meeting.  What are you referring to?  My
sense was that the ICANN crowd understood that there was no way this could
be kept off the agenda in the face of so much demand.

> of questions arise from this scenario:

1. why don't the developing countries
> arguing for critical internet resources put their money where there mouth is
> and put some real financial resources into the IGF secretariat so it can get
> the job done properly and see off the threat of withdrawal of funds from the

This has been a big problem from the start.  IGF is a classic unfunded
mandate.  Governments voted to create it and then looked at their shoes when
the bowl was passed around.  I suppose the host countries have excuses,
they'll be laying out cash to hold the meetings, but if more of the others
had each given even a pittance, in the aggregate the secretariat would not
be operating on a shoe string and looking for love in what some here regard
as the all the wrong places.   With only the Swiss, Dutch and Norwegians
ponying up, the significance of the contributions from ICANN and other
technical and administrative orgs is naturally amplified.  Then the
governments that didn't pay complain about that.   Frankly, if contributions
were to reflect service rendered, it's the US that should have been paying.
Without the IGF, the headline from Tunis would have been, "UN summit breaks
down in acrimony over US control."  Instead the US got to declare that
everything's great, we love the IGF, and then walk away.

> hegemonic bloc.

2. Why do the developing countries taking up the issue of
> critical internet resources have such a poor sense of strategy that their
> interventions simply amount to waving a red flag at a bull. They don't spell
> out what particular aspect of critical internet resources they wish to address
> and there are quite a few to choose from such as the whois debate. As a result
> the hegemonic bloc correctly reads their proposal as yet another attempt to
> get control of ICANN and acts accordingly to neutralise it. Subtlety and


Strongly agree that the developing country strategy, at least as it's been
expressed publicly (not quite unanimously), has sounded too backward
looking.  Revisiting "oversight" will not get us anywhere.  At the same
time, the forward looking items IGC has raised, like the growing role of the
GAC, are presumably not their main bones of contention.  I'd think a better
option would be to support a Development Agenda focus that looks at how the
respective bodies (emphatically, not just ICANN) do or don't promote
development substantively and procedurally, but then I'm biased.
> some sort of outcome that could be contained in a 'message'? 

I propose we
> adopt Bertrand's proposal and write a letter to the UN SG outlining it cc to
> the IGF secretariat. Then we should  move on to consider the substantive

I'm not comfortable yet with the fourth stakeholder category, think this
merits more discussion.  While in principle I agree with John that IGO
secretariats often have a measure of relative autonomy from state interests
(consider the ITU's positions on IG under Utsumi, in the face of strong
opposition from the US---Toure appears to have U-turned), in practice the
reality in orgs relevant to IG is more variable.  For example, the WTO,
WIPO, OECD and others almost invariably support the US agenda, or else
whatever compromises between the US and EU may be needed.  Moreover, which
IGOs exactly would be considered the relative polity to be represented, and
are their roles/stakes comparable to other orgs from the technical/admin

> issues and how we might engage with Brazil (and probably South Africa and
> India) about the shortcomings of their strategy and the need to distance IGF
> Rio from Iran's proxy war with the US, with  Canada and perhaps other OECD
> countries as potential allies and with the IGF secretariat about issues of
> substance. We could write formal letters to the governments we think we should
> engage. We could propose that Brazil appoint a civil society liasion for the
> Rio iGF  asap. And we should communicate formally with BASIS on these issues
> includng Bertrand's proposal.. A communication with ICANN may also be
> worthwhile on the issue of how to address the critical internet resource issue
> in a reasonable manner.

There is only a month to get this together and given
> how long the IGC takes to get consensus, there is no time to waste.


> Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Yeses to the above, with the caveat that all this would require a level of a
higher level of consensus and speed than we've managed in a long while.  But
as Gramsci said, pessimism of the mind, optimism of the will.  Of course, he
was in prison when he wrote this..



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