[governance] IGF financing

Dan Krimm dan at musicunbound.com
Mon Jun 11 17:40:29 EDT 2007

Just one more comment from the outside observer, from a policy perspective.

Seems to me that Milton and Parminder both are suspicious of the influence
of funding on policy, as anyone with minimal political consciousness should

One plausible way to minimize this undue influence is for funding to be
broadly sourced.  So, Bertrand, if your idea of MS funding is that no one
funder should have significant influence over policy, then everyone shares
the same goals and the disagreement is about practical mechanics and

If there is private funding, it should probably be structurally capped to
constrain potential influence of policy by any one player.  Also, getting
funding from an aggregate body such as the UN may additionally dilute the
influence of any individual member of the aggregate on the funded
policy-making process.

This reminds me a bit of the "Chinese Wall" that traditionally used to
inhere in commercial publications like magazines and newspapers, but which
is increasingly under fire in the present era.  There is intense pressure
on editorial departments to adhere to constraints demanded by large
advertisers, through the "publishing" departments (i.e., marketing and ad
sales) of these publications.  The editors have been progressively losing
this battle over time, and when you get someone like Rupert Murdoch trying
to buy the Wall Street Journal, it causes all sorts of alarm, and justly so.

In public governance, the influence of money in elections, lobbying, and
"Iron Triangles" (narrow quid-pro-quos by special interests, legislators
and regulators) is similar and incontrovertible.  So, the bottom line seems
to be:

 * How can we set up a Chinese Wall between money and policy?

Perfection is not an option, so the more nuanced question is:

 * How can we structurally minimize the influence of money on policy?

If multi-stakeholder funding raises alarms, it must be because those
structures have not insulated policy from money in the past.  So, if one
wants to proceed with something along those lines:

 * What explicit institutional structures/processes can be put in place to
improve the insulation of policy from money?

But all this still does not address Parminder's concern that those without
resources to contribute to funding will tend not to get representation of
their policy interests.  Who speaks for the mute?  Or, more formally:

 * How can the policy-making process be structured to address *all*
stakeholder interests, even when some stakeholders do not have the
resources to participate actively?

Bertrand, if you can answer these questions more precisely, then perhaps
you will find more positive response to your ideas, or at least more
willingness to work within your framework to find solutions to these
questions.  At the very least, if you make it quite clear that these goals
of separating money from policy-making are your top priority (and that you
are not necessarily "married" to any particular approach to achieving these
goals -- if you try to choose your structural tool before you have examined
the details of all the structural options, then that is logically backward
in the policy formulation process), then you might be more able to proceed
with less distraction from concerns arising from vague under-specification
of structural details.

Hope this is helpful,


PS -- I am not under the illusion that the answers to these questions are
easy to determine.  But, they are crucial to determine if we are to build a
just society.

At this point, from my outside vantage, it seems that the structural
options may not have been fully fleshed out, and it may be worth
considering them all.  It may be that they all need additional conceptual
development in order to best address the problem of insulating policy from
money, and after that is completed they should be compared as to how well
they would be expected to satisfy these goals.  Maybe there are additional
considerations that need to be traded off.  In the end, choose the best
solution at hand.  But if you are presenting multi-stakeholder (whatever
that really is in detail, I'm not sure I know) as the only structural
option to examine at all, then you are calling the winner before the race.
You should have the race first.

At 6:44 PM +0200 6/11/07, Bertrand de La Chapelle wrote:
>Wow, interesting.
>Should I consider myself not cautious or clever enough :-) for daring to
>utter an idea like : "a multi-stakeholder forum could/should be financed
>in a multi-stakeholder way ?" And remember I indicated with appropriate
>rules of transparency.
>I'm afraid your reply is not of the same tune as my modest contribution
>and the tonality is a bit harsh, as if I were suggesting something
>horrendous. I respect your position, as usual, but as I suppose you are
>speaking in a personal capacity and not as coordinator, maybe we should
>let people discuss it. That's the purpose of this list, isn't it ?
>I am not sure this question can simply be brushed aside by your answer.
>And I'm not sure we understand the same thing when we speak of
>multi-stakeholder financing. In particular, you did not mention the
>distinction I was making between "automatic resources" and "ad hoc
>resources". Do you think that a foundation providing transparent financing
>to a Dynamic Coalition would be bad ?
>Anyway, I'd be happy to learn what your own preference would be, what
>concrete solution you favor : just governments ? or just the UN ? or just
>some international organizations ? The key question is, again : what is
>the appropriate financing structure for the IGF in order to guarantee
>regularity of resources and independence from lobbies and pressure groups
>? Can we address this issue calmly, with the attention it deserves ?
>In any case, using words like "what recently happened at IGF would be
>scandalous. In some countries it will veer towards criminal" was not
>necessary to make your point. Especially in a response to that post.
>Unless you imply - without saying - that those words are applicable to
>what I mentionned or you hope I might be encouraged to shut up by fear of
>being accused of the above. In such a case, I sincerely hope we can avoid
>this on this list. There are enough important issues that need to be
>discussed in a mature manner, and I am merely, as usual, trying to provide
>some constructive input.
>Best as ever
>On 6/11/07, Parminder
><<mailto:parminder at itforchange.net>parminder at itforchange.net > wrote:
>No Bertrand, Multistakeholder financing is a very bad idea. And, an even
>worse principle. When we speak MS, I am often afraid this idea is lurking
>somewhere. But most people are cautious/ clever enough not to mention it
>expressly. In fact, that's the big difference between how things,
>less-than-ideally, may actually be, and when we openly start articulating
>such things as acceptable principles.
>When Milton said, it is simple - those who fund IGF will push their
>agenda, and so those others who want their agenda pushed should step up
>their contribution - I responded that however practical it be, this looks
>like a principle which will take us to not good outcomes at all - for CS
>and for public interest. For instance, I want my agenda pushed, what
>should I do. I don't have money to contribute. And I cant go to my
>government (per Milton's advise) because my government doesn't share my
>agenda. And he called it moral posturing, I hope you don't come back in
>the same vein. For me and many in public interest advocacy it is an
>important principle, and I cant let such formulations pass by..
>It if fine for private parties to finance public functions and bodies
>where there is a plurality - like a foundation funding a university
>program or an NGO. It is also fine to extend part financing, under certain
>conditions, to core public bodies which are monopolistic (states, UN
>bodies etc)  in their constituency and mandate, but then the proportion of
>private funding needs to be adequately low for any one interest group (as
>well as in total proportion to public funds) , and it should be governed
>with strict rules of propriety etc. Under such rules what recently
>happened at IGF would be scandalous. In some countries it will veer
>towards criminal.
>Many in the CS (outside the typical IG/IS groups) who are sometimes
>suspicious of the term multistakeholder feel so because they known such
>bodies can easily show tendencies to move towards 'privatised governance'.
>We may be realizing their worst fears.
>Parminder Jeet Singh
>IT for Change, Bangalore
>Bridging Development Realities and Technological Possibilities
>Tel: (+91-80) 2665 4134, 2653 6890
>Fax: (+91-80) 4146 1055
><http://www.itforchange.net/> www.ITforChange.net
>From: Bertrand de La Chapelle
>[mailto:<mailto:bdelachapelle at gmail.com>bdelachapelle at gmail.com]
>Sent: Monday, June 11, 2007 7:37 PM
>To: <mailto:governance at lists.cpsr.org>governance at lists.cpsr.org; Norbert
>Subject: [governance] IGF financing
>Dear all,
>Following the various post, including Norbert's one below, I'd like to
>insert two general comments in the discussion :
>First, as the IGF is an innovative experiment in multi-stakeholder
>governance, it would make sense that its funding be multi-stakeholder as
>well, wouldn't it ? Proportions can be discussed, given the variable
>contributory capacities, but the principle would make sense, IMHO.
>Second, a combination of "automatic resources" for regular activities,
>including the annual event and some secretariat functions, and "had hoc
>resources" could also be envisaged, provided the later are transparent. In
>particular, there is no reason to prevent some actors from getting good
>visibility when they support some useful activity, such as funding for
>participation of developing countries participants or supporting the
>activities of a dynamic coalition.
>On 6/11/07, Norbert Bollow <<mailto:nb at bollow.ch>nb at bollow.ch> wrote:
>Milton Mueller <<mailto:mueller at syr.edu>mueller at syr.edu> wrote:
>> a) vested interests can be expected to use financial support as leverage
>> over the activities of the IGF
>> b) we need to find a way to institutionalize support for IGF that
>> minimizes this problem (we will never eliminate it)
>Would it be an improvement if the IGF process was funded out of
>the U.N. budget?
>If yes, what would be the process for trying to achieve that?
>What would be the chances of success for this?
>Norbert Bollow
><<mailto:nb at bollow.ch>nb at bollow.ch>                    <http://Norbert.ch>
>President of the Swiss Internet User Group
>SIUG  <http://SIUG.ch>http://SIUG.ch
>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")
>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")
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