[Governance] Seeking roll back of IGF Leadership Panel

Olivier MJ Crépin-Leblond ocl at gih.com
Sat Nov 27 05:36:04 EST 2021

Dear Milton,

thank you for your kind response and thanks for the suggestions you make 
in improving the IGF, which I'll let others comment on, if need be.
To the question "the current status quo is no fit for purpose", the 
current IGF mandate was pretty much a result of policies stemming from a 
state of the Internet in 2005. We are in 2021, 16 years later. The world 
is a different place and the Internet is a very different animal than 
what it was back in 2005. Let's stop kidding ourselves that we live in 
2005 and open our eyes to 2021 and its geopolitical, societal and 
technical challenges. We still live in a world where there is a huge gap 
between the Internet haves and the have nots, and that gap is widening, 
and might be set to widen further as new technologies like 5G and the 
ubiquitous IoT get rolled out in richer parts of the world. We have a 
climate emergency on our hands and a significant part of it is caused by 
the very network that we love and use daily. We have a handful of 
companies with a budget larger than a small country that have no checks 
and balances in place regarding the privacy of data and whose business 
model is based on tracking you and me and everyone else. We have a world 
where if you are not online, you are nothing, which means that some 
complete cultures are bound to disappear altogether if they do not have 
an online presence. I know it's a mixed bag of slushy stuff that 
strictly speaking you could say has nothing to do with the Internet, but 
these issues are real and the Internet's impact is core to many of these 

In my opinion, the current status quo of having a discussion forum and 
nothing else around it to action the discussions is no longer fit for 
purpose - it's a lot of money spent to write more books and papers, but 
if there is no clear path on how to action the discussions, it is money 
wasted for the happy few that benefit from publishing these papers, at 
the expense of the wider world. I am not saying whether an IGF 
Leadership Panel is a good or a bad thing, but if you don't like the 
proposal, then propose something else because one thing is sure: if the 
IGF continues being a talk shop with no actual results or even 
suggestions coming out of it that can be picked up using a well thought 
out process, in a multistakeholder manner, for further study or action, 
some major players in the multistakeholder model will walk away and turn 
to other fora, perhaps multilateral fora, letting the multistakeholder 
model of governance be a pipe dream of civil society that will remain by 
itself in the IGF.

As for the "purpose", I interpret it as the "Internet Governance Forum", 
where civil society, governments, the private sector, the technical 
community and any other actors come together to discuss Internet 
Governance issues, leading to a well thought out future of the Internet 
that includes input from all players and not only a single actor. If you 
want the Internet of the future to reflect consensus between all 
parties, that is the way to do it. If you'd rather engage in poltical 
wars and arguments between stakeholder groups, then let the talking 
continue and leave the development to government and the private sector: 
together I am sure they have a great plan for all of us.

Kindest regards,


On 26/11/2021 19:28, Mueller, Milton L wrote:
> Olivier:
> I don't agree with the premise that because the UN SG's office 
> proposed something that I need to have an alternative proposal. I 
> think the more fundamental issue we are debating is whether the IGF 
> serves a useful function, under its current parameters (nonbinding, 
> open, ms discussion forum). My answer is yes, and my most basic 
> alternative is to stop trying to turn it into something else, via 
> "high-levelism."
> The next question is what can be done to strengthen it? Here is a 
> simple program
>  1. Confine discussions to actual global internet governance issues.
>     Sorry, folks, climate change is important but it's not IG
>  2. Start doing something meaningful with IGF main sessions. Instead
>     of gigantic panels full of anodyne, inoffensive statements, have
>     focused debates in which real policy alternatives are debated by
>     people who have real standing, and make them interact meaningfully
>     with the broader set of participants
>  3. Don't shy away from geopolitical debates involving state actors.
> That would be a good start.
> Now when you say, "the current status quo is not fit for purpose" 
> please tell me what purpose you have in mind.
> --MM
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> *From:* Governance <governance-bounces at lists.igcaucus.org> on behalf 
> of Olivier MJ Crépin-Leblond via Governance 
> <governance at lists.igcaucus.org>
> *Sent:* Friday, November 26, 2021 7:01 AM
> *To:* parminder <parminder at itforchange.net>; 
> governance at lists.igcaucus.org <governance at lists.igcaucus.org>
> *Subject:* Re: [Governance] Seeking roll back of IGF Leadership Panel
> Dear Parminder,
> I understand from your letter with Milton that you are *against* the 
> creation of an IGF Leadership Panel. What I'd like to hear is what you 
> and Milton propose instead. It is easy to be against all sorts of 
> things, but the world isn't static and from the IGF conultations, it 
> is clear that the current status quo is no longer fit for purpose. 
> There needs to be evolution.
> So what next?
> Thanks,
> Olivier Crépin-Leblond
> (speaking on my own behalf)
> On 24/11/2021 15:32, parminder via Governance wrote:
>> Dear All,
>> Please find enclosed a letter addressed to the UN Secretary General 
>> appealing to him to roll back the decision for an IGF Leadership Panel.
>> The letter is co-signed by Dr Milton Mueller, on behalf  of the 
>> Internet Governance Project, Georgia Institute of Technology School 
>> of Public Policy, and Parmider Jeet Singh, for IT for Change, and the 
>> Just Net Coalition.
>> The letter is cc-ed to representatives of civil society and technical 
>> community groups requesting them to refrain from sending nominations 
>> for the IGF Leadership Panel, and thus legitimizing it.
>> The letter argues how the IGF Leadership Panel militates against the 
>> basic idea, objectives and structure of the IGF, and will weaken it.
>> Best, parminder
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