[governance] IGF Financing (and structuring)

Meryem Marzouki marzouki at ras.eu.org
Wed Jun 13 12:52:38 EDT 2007

Le 12 juin 07 à 15:44, Milton Mueller a écrit :


> I need to think about it more carefully, but Bertrand's idea of MS
> financing seems to me to have merit. Not on a project by project  
> basis,
> as that would obviously make the agenda the plaything of governmental
> and corporate interests, but let's say that the regular budget was
> divided into quotas per "stakeholder" group, e.g. 30% from govts, 30%
> from PS, 20% from CS, and 20% from the international organizations
> within its purview (ICANN, UNESCO, ITU, WIPO, etc.). Maybe this  
> requires
> some kind of "membership" in which participants get certified as
> belonging to some sector and once so recognized, assume some kind of
> honorary obligation to meet those quotas.

Can't we learn from existing examples? e.g. ITU. It has States  
members (UN member States), private organizations members (business,  
membership by ITU technical sectors), and associates.
Fees for sector members are described here: http://www.itu.int/ 
I think it's enough to understand... If not, I'm sure Bill will be  
more than pleased to jump in with thousands of messages explaining  
what's wrong with this system, as he's as fond of ITU as of WTO:)
Would anyone here argue that ITU would be the example to be followed  
by IGF?

Moreover, I really don't see how this "stakeholder quotas" system is  
better than the "project by project" basis, which is indeed a direct  
agenda-setting system (not only agenda-, but also decisions-on-the- 
agenda-setting, as a matter of fact). It's still more harmful to  
loose 30% (gov or PS) than 20% (CS) of your money. And BTW, I don't  
see how CS could contribute even 20% on a stable basis: CS orgs are  
not even sure they'll have enough funding to attend the next meeting...

Even the micro-credit is not a good idea. Somehow surprising that  
this proposal came from Parminder:), since (1) it's a perversion of  
the micro-credit system and (2) in the same way as the micro-credit  
is nothing more than an operational mean of allowing more people to  
access to the credit system than the "normal" banking credit from  
which they would never benefit, IGF financing by either micro-credit  
or huge (MS or not) contributions doesn't change anything at the  
principle level and poses the same problems, though on different scales.

These problems have already been identified:
1/ agenda-setting by big contributors (or tentative of, as was  
recently made obvious)
2/ why on earth would citizens and even businesses pay again what  
they already paid (although certainly not enough for big businesses)  
their governments for through taxes, since IGF is integral part of  
the UN systems?

[and speaking of learning from existing examples, setting up  
something new outside of the UN system may well look like ICANN, even  
leaving aside the US DoC issue. Would anyone (except Veni:)) here  
argue that ICANN would be the example to follow, instead of the ITU  

To summarize, my opinion is that we could spend years discussing this  
issue, but the best answer would remain making the IGF structure as  
light as possible, thus as cheap as possible. In this regards, Adam  
raised the good question: "what do we mean by IGF Financing?". Why  
IGF financing would necessarily require huge amounts of money? What  
has been its budget as for now, and what are the strict necessary  

This is not a financing question only. This is closely related to the  
IGF institutional structure discussion ("bureau or not bureau"). All  
the proposals and ideas droped on this list started with a very  
complex structure trying to ensure representation of all stakeholders  
while denying this representation objectives, and ended by ensuring  
that this bureau/secretariat/whatever shouldn't of course have any  
decision-making powers. Why then should they obey a so thoroughly  
devised membership?

Let's try to answer a very simple question: wouldn't it be possible  
to organize the whole IGF activities with a secretariat composed by X  
persons, who can be civil servants delegated by some governments in  
turn, plus some project officers from various concerned IGOs, also in  
turn, plus local logistics provided by the host country for each  
annual meeting (with sponsors of _this_ particular event if needed,  
from any economic sector: after all, such international events are  
good for e.g. the tourism sector, probably more than for the Internet  
sector, given their achievements...). These people skills should only  
be organizational, administrative. Substance (agenda setting, etc.)  
provided by contributions from anyone/any group/any institution  
interested. We only need some rules to organize all this and to  
guarantee that anyone/any group/any institution has equal/equitable  
access to resources. Working on such rules would be far more  
interesting that discussing ways of structuring and financing IGF.

Is this really making no sense?


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