[governance] IGF workshop approval criteria

Jeanette Hofmann jeanette at wzb.eu
Sat Jun 16 11:43:39 EDT 2007

Hi Bill, I agree with Adam here. We both advocated multi-stakeholderism 
as a selection criteria already last year. The fact that we did not get 
more applications as available slots for Athens doesn't mean that the 
selection criteria as such doesn't count.
The Internet Governance Project co-organized a workshop with UNESCO last 
year. It is possible to cooperate with IOs even if its not always easy.

I very much believe in this model of multi-stakeholder cooperation also 
or even especially on the level of _organizing_ discourse. I would 
therefore also first drop workshop proposals that are not 
multi-stakeholder in case there are more than slots available.


William Drake wrote:
> Hi,
> Since Adam sent the below to the list after a series of private exchanges
> between us on the same, I'd like to give my view, with which he disagrees.
> Snipping..
> On 6/15/07 10:38 AM, "Adam Peake" <ajp at glocom.ac.jp> wrote:
>> My guess is demand for workshops will be higher
>> this year -- IGF's better known and more will
>> Last year all workshop proposals were accepted.
>> If demand for workshops is greater than the
>> number of available slots --even after merging of
>> like themes-- then it will be necessary to reject
>> some.  I think demand may well exceed supply.
>> Most likely group to do this accepting/rejecting
>> is the advisory group. And I suspect the first
>> criteria for judging proposals will be if the
>> workshop has a real multistakeholder organizing
>> team behind it.  Proposals from the caucus will
>> be good, certainly would show broad civil society
>> support, but involving other stakeholders will be
>> essential. Regional diversity also positive.
>> Just my opinion.
> I believe it would a bit unfair and potentially problematic for many
> CS-initiated proposals if the mAG opts this year to strictly require that
> workshops truly have multistakeholder sponsorship in order to get approved,
> on the following grounds:
> 1.  Precedent.  Irrespective of what it said on the website, many workshops
> approved for Athens were not remotely multistakeholder in organization, in
> that they were sponsored by intra-species collaborations, single
> organizations (IOs, business, CS) or individuals.  Aside from Adam's message
> to this list yesterday, two weeks before the submission deadline, there has
> been no public indication from the secretariat or mAG that the nominal rule
> so clearly ignored last time will be enforced this time.  To me, that's in
> effect changing the game mid-stream with little notification, and people
> might understandably have been proceeding on the assumption they didn't have
> to worry too much about this.   Adam disagrees.
> 2.  Political Reality.  It would be nice to believe that all stakeholders
> support the IGF serving as an open forum in which, per WGIG, any stakeholder
> can raise any issue, and hence are prepared to support any workshop
> initiative that is on an important topic.  But as we have seen in many ways,
> most recently with the funding withdrawal threat, the actual support for
> free and open dialogue on any and all topics is rather variable.  Some
> stakeholders may view proposed topics through the lens of their strategic
> postures, even though it's only dialogue and not a negotiation.  One can
> readily imagine topics that CS groups might like to have discussed that
> would have a difficult time winning co-sponsorship from industry,
> technical/administrative groupings, or certain governments.  I for example
> might have problems getting support from such quarters for a session on a
> development agenda because it's misconstrued as necessarily implying the
> same sort of 'controversial and divisive' negotiations that happened with
> the WIPO DA (it doesn't).   The same might apply to resources as global
> commons, don't know.  Conversely, many CS groups might be reluctant to sign
> onto an industry workshop on the glories of telecom liberalization and
> privatization, the COE convention as a boon to civil liberties, or whatever.
> Moreover, international organizations and governments might have additional
> constraints in considering co-sponsorship requests, e.g. turf
> considerations, the need to stay within agreed mandates, fear of being
> associated with a 'controversial' topic even if they like it, reticence
> about signing onto something initiated by CS, and so on.  In sum, if now
> strictly applied, the rule would seem to favor anodyne topics and framings
> that all can support like capacity building or, for that matter,
> openness/diversity/security/access, over some tougher issues that really
> need to be worked through and that the IGF alone can provide space for.
> 3.  Sponsorship vs Dialogue.  To me, what really matters is the flavor of
> the dialogue, whether the speakers are MS and multi-perspective, not whether
> the formal sponsorship is.  I cannot see why the names at the top of a
> proposal are more important than the names of the panelists and the actual
> discussion that ensues.  And it it will be much easier to get government,
> IO, or industry people lined up as speakers than it is to get the same
> people to convince their minister, SG, or CEO to organizationally endorse a
> WS.
> Parminder would like CS mAG members to communicate his request for more time
> to the mAG and the secretariat (I'm agnostic on that---the deadline was
> announced some time ago).  I would request in parallel that they communicate
> this request that the MS requirement be construed more with regard to the
> speakers and actual dialogue rather than the sponsorship.
> Thanks,
> Bill
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