[governance] Is this the same in Internet Governance?

Riaz K Tayob riaz.tayob at gmail.com
Fri Mar 9 03:57:55 EST 2012

As Alfonso says, it is nice to have a landing point, that Gurstein has 
provided - I did interject at the time suggesting that the WIPO Trust 
Fund for ensuring the participation of indigenous people could be a 
model that could be used as it is tried and tested by a UN Body (so they 
have worked out some of the institutional issues which could be emulated.

More generally, I have some thoughts on process etc.

What I read from Parminder's input is

a) the need for a healthy scepticism and prioritisation of "reason" 
(i.e. win arguments because of persuasiveness and public interest - if 
that is the priority for civic engagement. And that more credence needs 
to be given to the views that have been hitherto marginalised, 
especially in a space that is non-binding.

b) NOT that there is an unbridgeable divide between vested interests and 
the public interest... a sound operating environment can benefit all, 
but the public interests/developing countries should not bear the 
disproportionate burden of adjustments etc. Therefore it is neither 
ironic about Veni (of course it also depends on context at the time the 
comments were made), nor that those affiliated with groups/IGF should 
not make input. On the contrary, it is more vital that they state their 
piece and be subject to the same rigour that for instance Parminder's 
views are subject to. There are more important things to be politically 
correct about. Trouble is that from an "objective" pov, some the 
arguments made often either not stand up to scrutiny or are based on 
different world views that are irreconcilable. But these are necessary 
contradictions in social change. What we do have is a safe space that 
can be used by all to maximise engagements on these issues so that the 
evolution of the ICT paradigm can be not just left to the vagaries of 
the market, but also serve higher ends that can/may be socially constructed.

This is not intended as a side swipe, but there is a tendency nowadays 
to believe in the rule of technocrats and experts. Just cos someone can 
read a programme or circuit design does not mean that their knowledge is 
better because of that expertise... social sciences are different from 
the natural sciences, within limits of the technology of course. And 
here the issue is not to resolve matters but to have the correct 
framing. Initiatives that promote Multistakeholderism without 
recognising that those with money would naturally exercise 
disproportionate power are problematic- but it is capable of management. 
But my personal experience is that even basic process issues are not 
taken seriously enough and abuses are just brushed aside as if the norms 
of realpolitick should apply uniformly to norms informing public 
interest. This will not do.


On 2012/03/08 11:14 PM, Adam Peake wrote:
> Kind of ironic as this issue was pretty much what Veni was commenting
> on, and making accusations about, when he left the list a few years
> ago.
> FWIW: I am a part-time consultant for the IGF secretariat, means I
> might be working for them in Baku.  I won't know for sure until a
> month or so before (this is the same each year), but as a result I
> tend not to comment on substance of the IGF.  Though couldn't resist
> during the last open consultation :-)
> Adam
> On Thu, Mar 8, 2012 at 11:35 PM, parminder<parminder at itforchange.net>  wrote:
>> Fouad,
>> Thanks for raising this very important issue. From the quoted article
>> http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/feb/20/who-funds-thinktank-lobbyists
>> "This is plutocracy, pure and simple. The battle for democracy is now a
>> straight fight against the billionaires and corporations reshaping politics
>> to suit their interests. The first task of all democrats must be to demand
>> that any group, of any complexion, seeking to effect political change
>> should reveal its funders."
>> It is our view, among civil society groups that I work with, that no one
>> should be considered civil society who doesnt reveal all funding sources, in
>> a completely transparent (preferably pro-active) manner, and is not ready to
>> answer all questions in this regard.
>> What has been obvious to most for decades and centuries of devleopment of
>> democratic thinking, seems to be completely lost on a lot of the so called
>> IG civil society. There is this very dangerous talk of 'multi stakeholder
>> funding' against 'public funding' for policy bodies (what to speak of just
>> public interest civil society bodies). Since the civil society obviously has
>> no funds to spare, this is just a poorly-disguised call for corporate
>> funding for policy bodies. And this talk has flowered on this very list, and
>> we have kept quite, nay mostly been supportive.
>> This is nothing other than the most powerful - plutocrats, referred in the
>> above quote - seeking to control the reins of policy -making and -shaping
>> bodies through control over their finances. And I have seen with horror how
>> easily civil society have fallen prey to this game, and openly supported
>> such moves.
>> Even in the Working Group on Improvements to the IGF (WGIIGF) this game
>> played out, as one of the biggest contestations. Whether there should be any
>> global public funding at all for the IGF become a big sticking point. And
>> the final resolution was; no, IGF should entirely be supported by private
>> funds, whether of corporates, or by voluntary donations by countries who
>> have obvious partisan interests vis a vis global policy regimes. And what a
>> victory for civil society - that evil UN was able to be kept at bay. We can
>> celebrate!
>> So, who are we, of the IG world, to be surprised or feel wounded to read
>> such news items like this one - that special interests have been bank
>> rolling the so called civil society bodies. We have gone much further; we
>> have advocated and ensured that even policy bodies are exclusively financed
>> by private funds, so that what you cant do by your legitimate representation
>> in a policy developing system, you can do through control over its funds. A
>> brave new post-democratic world indeed. And we have been less than silent
>> accomplices in building it.
>> One should have heard the long and strident arguments of our much valued
>> partners of the mustistakeholder brigade - you know who - against greater
>> transparency in IGF funding. However, these things look to IG civil society
>> as minor issues relative to that big demon - UN taking over the Internet.
>> (In the end though, and I give the credit largely to two government
>> participants - one from the North and another from the South - one of the
>> very very few real accomplishments of the report of the WG on IGF
>> Improvements is that it calls for full disclosure - on both sides, incomes
>> and expenditure - regarding IGF finances. )
>> Significantly, since an opposition to any UN funds for the IGF was
>> sweet-coated by the 'UN taking over the Internet' bogey, an alternative
>> innovative way of direct public funding of the IGF through routing of the
>> fees or taxes collected by the ICANN + system from the users was proposed,
>> but it was equally cynically shot down. So you see, the problem is not only
>> with UN's 'tainted' public funds - as some want to see it - it is against
>> any funding which is automatic and which doesnt give the rich and the
>> powerful discretionary levers of control over the global IG policy system.
>> Quite unhappily, there wasnt even any civil society support for this
>> proposal.
>> In the circumstances, going back to the original article about corporate
>> money and politics, I think IG civil society has a lot to think about its
>> own conduct and outlook in this matter.
>> parminder
>> On Thursday 08 March 2012 06:12 PM, Fouad Bajwa wrote:
>> We need to know who funds these thinktank lobbyists.
>> http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/feb/20/who-funds-thinktank-lobbyists
>> ____________________________________________________________
>> You received this message as a subscriber on the list:
>>      governance at lists.igcaucus.org
>> To be removed from the list, visit:
>>      http://www.igcaucus.org/unsubscribing
>> For all other list information and functions, see:
>>      http://lists.igcaucus.org/info/governance
>> To edit your profile and to find the IGC's charter, see:
>>      http://www.igcaucus.org/
>> Translate this email: http://translate.google.com/translate_t

-------------- next part --------------
You received this message as a subscriber on the list:
     governance at lists.igcaucus.org
To be removed from the list, visit:

For all other list information and functions, see:
To edit your profile and to find the IGC's charter, see:

Translate this email: http://translate.google.com/translate_t

More information about the Governance mailing list