[governance] Strangeness in the IGF programme
parminder at itforchange.net
Fri Mar 5 04:42:33 EST 2010
Jeanette Hofmann wrote:
> Carlos A. Afonso wrote:
>> Hi Jean, this message is helping me a lot to get in synch with the
>> discussion, which I tried to follow in the last few weeks and could
>> not. I think what your wrap-up of the debate so far should as well be
>> posted in the igf-members list.
> Hi Carl,
> thanks, this is encouraging.
> Here some more impressions of the debate around key messages. In the
> beginning I thought this was merely a symbolic controversy since
> "messages" as such won't change the rules and resources that
> constitute Internet governance in its present form. "Key messages"
> might be one of these "discursive objects" that allow people to gather
> behind a position, differentiate themselves from people with different
> positions, and feel good about siding with the right people.
> But there is more to it this debate. It also concerns the questions of
> how and in which form we create "output" from IGF meetings. Would it
> be in the form of condensed summaries which reflect various positions?
> Or would such messages rather focus on the common ground between those
> in the room?
> Another important point concerns unwanted side-effects. Some of those
> who are sceptical about this idea argue that messages may change the
> whole character of IGF meetings because open debates could be
> transformed into negotiation exercises. The example of the UK IGF was
> brought up. It seems the participants of the UK meeting spent a lot if
> not most of the time arguing about the correct message.
On the other hand, there is the very successful example of EuroDIG,
whose 'messages from Geneva' ( see
) is a document worth reading. Especially see page 12 onwards where
messages from plenary sessions are described.
One of the persons associated with organizing EuroDIG clearly noted that
the fact that 'messages' were being distilled from the discussions had
no effect whatsoever on how the debates went, meaning they did not get
hijacked by a 'messages agenda'.
EuroDIG also seems to have a followed a very sound process in developing
I agree with Jeanette that this debate is about the 'political authority
and weight of a multistakeholder process', and thus of great importance.
> While I am in favor of using messages of whatever sort as a step
> towards more tangible outcomes, I see the risk of such unwanted
> The debate
>> Jeanette Hofmann wrote:
>>> Carlos A. Afonso wrote:
>>>> Jeanette Hofmann wrote:
>>>>> Milton L Mueller wrote:
>>>>>>> Gone are the days [snip] Now the MAG is basically reduced to
>>>>>>> concluding phrases generic enough [snip] Even the
>>>>>>> sometimes lively discussions in the igf-members list (an
>>>>>>> opportunity to
>>>>>>> deepen the issues) are history.
>>>>> This is not true. Right now, we do have quite a lively and important
>>>>> discussion on the MAG list, and it would be good if more people
>>>>> participated in it.
>>>> Nothing like in the past...
>>> I beg to differ, Carlos, I think the MAG has one its most important
>>> debates ever at the moment.
>>> The debate concerns one paragraph of the first draft of the
>>> programme paper:
>>> "There were calls for tangible outcomes involving the issuing of
>>> messages from the IGF. The Chairman’s Report of the Sharm El Sheikh
>>> meeting points in that direction. It refers to a message addressing
>>> the needs of people with disabilities which, at the Session Chair’s
>>> request, was endorsed by acclamation. Similar outcomes could be
>>> envisaged also in future meetings. It was suggested that such
>>> messages should come out of each of the sessions. For this purpose,
>>> a set of rapporteurs could be appointed to publish, in their own
>>> names, the key messages from sessions. These could then be put on
>>> line in a page that allowed other participants to comment on the key
>>> The MAG discusses the concept and the term of "key messages": Is it
>>> feasible to summarize meetings in the form of messages (all of them,
>>> just main sessions or just workshops) ? Is the term "key"
>>> appropriate or not? Is it appropriate for the MAG to suggest a
>>> response to these issues? Is it appropriate not to address this
>>> issue? Etc, etc.
>>> This debate is very important because it concerns the political
>>> authority and weight of multistakeholder processes both on the
>>> national and the transnational level: Are structures such as the IGF
>>> allowed to evolve and experiment (ah, that word again...) with
>>> various forms of consensus building or are they tolerated only
>>> within the confines of exchanging opinions in a non-committal manner?
>>> The relevance of this debate trancends the draft of the programme
>>> paper. Pity that there might not be much time left to see this
>>> debate bear fruits!
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