[governance] Re: [bestbits] [discuss] Re: Draft statement on making IGF permanent

Mawaki Chango kichango at gmail.com
Tue Sep 2 18:04:08 EDT 2014


 Thank you for clarification.

On Tue, Sep 2, 2014 at 8:11 PM, George Sadowsky <george.sadowsky at gmail.com>

> Below are responses to both Mawaki and Michael Gurstein:
> Mawaki,
> Yes, the structure and participatory model are different, and that would
> make some difference.  My concern is that if IGF is to be captured by the
> UN, changes would likely change place over time that would be at the sole
> discretion of the UN.
> So to be direct in responding, I think that the evolution toward a
> "permanent" body within the UN ecosystem (to use a fashionable term) would
> likely mean the weakening of the multistakeholder ownership and bottom-up
> nature of the IGF processes.  I point to the ITU as an example; its mandate
> is governed by its 190+ countries that have ITU membership, and their
> decision are the ones that determined the work plan of the organization.
> The same is true for the UN Secretariat, and nothing in any agreement
> between the UN and the IGF will alter that.
> Mawaki, I think both the UN and the IGF are important and positive
> institutions in their own way.  My argument is with the IGF going solidly
> and/or permanently under the UN umbrella, nothing more.

I do understand your point and take it for exactly what it is. On the other
hand I am skeptical about thinking that there is any way possible IGF would
still be IGF without the broad community involvement, participation and
ownership that we've come to know with the current IGF. If it were to
become fully a (specialized) UN agency just like UNESCO or ITU, mainly
based on nation-state membership (with some extension to corporate/ non-UN
organizational entities like with ITU), it would lose a lot of the
community participation and energy, running the risk to become a
duplication of ITU only with a narrower scope, possibly. Which would be a
problem for the UN itself (and for ITU, incidentally.) In sum, that would
be self-defeating on nearly all accounts, at least.

Instead (and as a thought experiment beyond the current statement drafting
exercise), I was thinking of the possibility of something hybrid where IGF
could retain the UN caché, institutional capacity and type of legitimacy
but without the minuses :) whereby the current authority solely held by the
UN/UNGA will be shared among a multistakeholder governing body including UN
inter pares with ICANN, ISOC, etc. possibly ITU, UNESCO, etc. CS
individuals/organizations, Academics, possibly a couple of individual
governments, etc. perhaps a total of some 21-25 maximum members for
instance (sorry, I don't mean to be exhaustive here, but just to give an
idea.) In addition to that there would be a lean Secretariat (the actual
entity to be incorporated/registered) that would pretty much looks like the
one we've got now but with more support, and an advisory body which would
take over from the current MAG. It would be that governing multistakeholder
body (not to be incorporated) which will make the highest decisions
regarding the IGF including, with the community inputs, whether to
discontinue IGF altogether when such time comes as when the Forum is no
longer serving its purpose. (A joint meeting with both the governing and
the advisory bodies might assume the role of 'general assembly' for this
non-profit "Secretariat" reviewing financial accounts and making sure the
rules and procedures are followed by the "Secretariat".)  Of course the
mechanism to appoint the members of the governing body with possible
rotations will have to be carefully designed and accepted by the community
(rough consensus?).

As I said, just a thought experiment reflecting my initial assessment of
the situation.


  See my response to Michael below for more.
> On a personal note, I'm quite glad to see you intervening on these various
> lists, and I think that your posts are generally really thoughtful and
> excellent.  I never delete or file them before taking the time to read them
> completely.
> George
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