[Governance] Seeking roll back of IGF Leadership Panel

Olivier MJ Crépin-Leblond ocl at gih.com
Sat Nov 27 08:54:57 EST 2021

...and I'll add another thing which just came to mind: a few years ago a 
follow-up committee to Netmundial, the Netmundial Initiative, was 
started to, amongst a number of things, become a clearinghouse for 
funding of projects that involved Internet Governance. A number of 
excellent projects were initiated thanks to the money collected through 
this initiative, but this community was so unanimous in rejecting and 
outright badmouthing the initiative (there is no other word than that), 
that the whole thing failed to get community buy-in and the financing 
dried up. As a result, today what do we have out of this? Absolutely 
nothing - and I am so, so disappointed to hear about the number of 
people that have not been able to find any funding to come to the IGF 
(before the pandemic issues).

By saying no to everything, boycotting processes and thus *refusing* 
dialogue, you end up doing exactly the opposite of what multistakeholder 
dialogue is all about. Ironic, isn't it?

Kindest regards,


On 27/11/2021 14:44, Olivier MJ Crépin-Leblond via Governance wrote:
> 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,
> Olivier
> 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
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