[Governance] Seeking roll back of IGF Leadership Panel

Olivier MJ Crépin-Leblond ocl at gih.com
Sat Nov 27 08:44:22 EST 2021

Dear Parminder,

thanks for your email. I have reservations about the LP, particularly 
the extent to which stakeholders participating in the LP will be 
equal... or not. At the moment, I have doubts that they will be.
But I admit I have not spent the time it takes to be an expert in 
exactly how it will work and perhaps there will be room to make 
stakeholders equal?
I have found reservations coming from other people too, including the 
most vehement ones coming from Milton and you who absolutely reject it. 
Fine - so perhaps the LP is *not* the answer to building the Internet of 
the future in a multistakeholder manner. So what do you propose instead?

The gist of my comment is that if you are bold enough to launch a 
campaign against the LP then surely you must have a constructive 
counter-proposal to make. That's all I am saying.

Kindest regards,


On 27/11/2021 14:22, parminder wrote:
> Olivier,
> From the below I understand that you are greatly bothered about the 
> huge number of global digital policy issues that need urgent policy 
> action. I fully agree with you. But you dont tell us how, as per your 
> thinking, policy action will take place on them. This is especially 
> ironical for someone who asks others to provide their precise 
> alternative/ model.
>  I understand that your email is basically in support of the IGF 
> Leadership Panel. But your 3 para email nowhere tells us what you 
> think the LP should and would do, and how that solves the the key 
> policy challenges you describe... Isnt that important to tell,  if you 
> support the LP.
> The language that comes the nearest in your email is.... "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..."
> So, you think the LP will pick up actual results or suggestions coming 
> out the IGF?
> Very fine... I had asked Wolfgang on the ISOC list to illustrate this 
> with an example or two, how the process actually works. He did not do 
> it, would you please .. Moment you begin to actually fill in detail 
> into this good-sounding message-conveying thing, youd realise the 
> immense problems with it and/ or non plausibility of it .. This being 
> a serious discussions on the future of IG ecosystem, lets get done to 
> its real processes and implications ...
> Sentences like "I am not saying whether an IGF Leadership Panel is a 
> good or a bad thing" -- are completely unhelpful..... That is what we 
> are facing right now, and we need to decide if it is a good idea or a 
> bad one. Funny, that hardly anyone is ready to say outright that LP is 
> a good idea.... I mean, it must be a really really bad idea, whereby 
> even those criticizing the criticism of LP are not ready to vouchsafe 
> for it.
> Later you say, ". If you want the Internet of the future to reflect 
> consensus between all parties, that is the way to do it."
> What is the way? Setting up an LP ? Interesting, Can you help us 
> understand how the LP will create / help consensus between all parties.
> This seem to be different from relaying messages ... I did not read it 
> as a function of LP to create/ help consensus, but you seem to think 
> it would.
> Thanks
> parminder
> On 27/11/21 4:06 pm, Olivier MJ Crépin-Leblond wrote:
>> 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 issues.
>> 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,
>> Olivier
>> 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

Olivier MJ Crépin-Leblond, PhD
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