[Governance] Fwd: [Internet Policy] Fwd: [WG-Strategy] [At-Large] Seeking roll back of the IGF Leadership Panel

Mueller, Milton L milton at gatech.edu
Fri Nov 26 12:43:20 EST 2021

Oddly, I never saw Wolfgang's response on this list, only in the reply function of others. But I find his arguments unconvincing and stand by the letter. Here's why (and thanks to Suresh for summarizing the two key points):

> 1. The decision and policy making has moved into several industry /
> inter government / multi stakeholder groups, some formed for the purpose
> while others predate IGF.  Key stakeholders from various organisations go
> there rather than come to the IGF. So a bridge between igf and these
> organisations is needed.

This comment shows a surprising lack of awareness of the total IG ecosystem. First, all decisions and policy making were ALWAYS in other organizations, they have not "moved" anywhere. ICANN does DNS governance, RIRs do IP address governance, CA/B does WebPKI, national governments do legislation and regulation, Intergovernmental orgs do formal treaties and/or norms, etc., etc.

As for the "bridge" idea, arbitrarily designating a small group of "leaders" to be the official "bridge" between IGF and the rest of the IG institutions has it all backwards. It's the attitudes and operations of _external_ stakeholders that matter, not internal reorganizations of IGF. The externals are the ones who might bring ideas and proposals into it. And that also makes it clear that such an act constitutes a sharing of authority. Unless powerful external stakeholders are pressured by their own constituencies to do so, they won't bring their issues to IGF in a meaningful way.

As an example, imagine the European Commission bringing their ideas for AI regulation to the IGF first, and getting widespread commentary and reaction from a global community before writing it. For that to happen, we don't need an elite group we need a commitment on the part of the EC to gain more global consensus and input. In making such a move, the EC would also be agreeing to limit its unilateral authority, its sovereignty if you will, by seeking consensus from outside its jurisdiction. No one but the EC is in a position to make that happen. No internal reorganization of the IGF is going to make that happen, certainly not the designation of a small, co-optable group of "leaders."

> Recruiting senior and experienced people who have the contacts,
> the background and the experience of communicating to government,
> industry and civil society leaders is necessary.

Again, if those people see no gain or benefit or legitimacy to be gained by participating in IGF, no Leadership Panel is going to fix that. All this boils down to the same problem: which people, and which stakeholder groups, see in the IGF an opportunity to further their interests via open, non-binding discussion? If, currently, "senior and experience people with contacts," etc don't participate in IGF, then it is because they do not see it as critical to furthering their interests. Designating a special group constitutes a bridge to nowhere if that remains the case.

The impetus for broader and more serious participation in IGF needs to come from stakeholders outside the IGF, not from hierarchical reorganizations within IGF.

> The ability to do this is
> however not automatically conferred by rank alone so the insistence on
> appointing only C suite officers or their equivalents is puzzling.

Smart observation. However, ask yourself why they did insist on that. It's a status-based stratification process that undermines the nature of IGF as an open, multistakeholder discussion forum.

I reiterate my appeal to not participate in the nomination process so as to not confer a false legitimacy on an ill-conceived idea. I know it's tempting for people seeking status and titles, but think of the broader public interest.


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