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

Vittorio Bertola vb at bertola.eu
Fri Jun 1 10:59:51 EDT 2007

Jeanette Hofmann ha scritto:
> We don't know how long the caucus can credibly claim to represent civil 
> society organizations and individuals in this field. Certainly there are 
>  NGOs involved in the ICT area that have never even heard of the IGC. 
> And we all have seen people abandoning mailing lists and favor of other 
> ones. In this sense I share Karl's concern that we could ossify a 
> composition of clans or stakeholder groups that made sense only for a 
> short while.

I think that we have to use different instruments for different purposes.

When it comes to substantial discussions, consensus building among 
individuals is the way to go. The border between stakeholder groups and 
sub-groups is blurred and not easily distinguished, but in the end, the 
principle is that almost everyone has to agree, so it doesn't really 
matter in which box you'd end up: a box-less system works fine. I see 
the charter that we gave to the IGC as a model of how this kind of 
discussions can happen; of course we still have to test it under harder 
conditions, and in more diverse groups, but it might be worth a try.

Constituencies are a useful tool when it comes to representation. Since 
you cannot rely on traditional instruments - and believe me, ideas of 
one-head-one-vote among one billion of Internet users are and will be 
utopian for some time; even if you could solve the issues about 
authentication, identification and registration of voters, still there 
is no global public opinion, awareness, or education sufficient to 
foster informed and meaningful voting - you can approximate them by 
pre-allocating the representation of different groups... in the IGF, it 
could be 1/3 governments, 1/3 private sector and 1/3 civil society 
(pending discussion on the possible "fourth stakeholder", the techies). 
You rightfully point out that this structure is prone to capture and 
ossification - so there must be an external authority (the UN SG?) to 
review that structure regularly.

But in the end, this structure would only be used to form a "steering 
group", that would have certain powers of check and balance over the 
work done in consensus-based groups, but would not determine consensus 
on its own; this would remove some heat from struggles about its 

Separately, there is the issue of civil society representation; I think 
that our Charter could be a good model to go, and while it's true that 
there's lots of civil society that haven't joined the discussion yet, as 
long as we maintain its openness and inclusiveness it can be said that 
they just have to join and get their share of participatory rights. And 
of course, this could be reviewed in the future if there were the need 
to do so. Such structure is welcoming to individuals as well, and given 
that in this small sized and manageable group there is ample opportunity 
to verify identities and promote informed voting, we could actually use 
one-head-one-vote methods to pick our representatives.
vb.                   Vittorio Bertola - vb [a] bertola.eu   <--------
-------->  finally with a new website at http://bertola.eu/  <--------
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