[connect-bof] [cooperation-wg] Internet governance

Nurani Nimpuno nurani at netnod.se
Tue Nov 19 08:24:41 CET 2013

On 17 nov 2013, at 19:01, Nick Hilliard wrote:

> On 17/11/2013 17:23, Gordon Lennox wrote:
> re: DG CONNECT's statement:
>> The current institutional set up needs to be strengthened and
>> streamlined, including the functioning of the Governmental advisory
>> Committee (GAC) to ICANN and an IGF better focused on main challenges in
>> producing concrete deliverables.
> the RIPE NCC kindly sponsored travel/hotel expenses for me to go to the IGF
> meeting in Bali in October.
> I was initially puzzled that there was an explicit intention not to make
> any decisions there, but it quickly became clear that this was a very smart
> thing to do.  The result was an unusually open atmosphere considering the
> attendee spread - civil society, lawmakers, regulatory people, politicians,
> etc.   Pretty much everyone was on equal footing, and that made it easy to
> approach people or to be approached.  Most importantly, the majority of
> people were enthusiastic about understanding other peoples' points of view.
> So although the IGF does not produce concrete deliverables - I assume this
> means anything ranging from policy documents to legal agreements - it
> produces something much more valuable, namely a better quality
> understanding of the issues surrounding internet governance from a variety
> of valid and important points of view.  This allows the people who are
> tasked by our societies to create laws and regulations, to do so on a much
> more informed basis from a wider cross-section of opinions.
> There is no doubt in my mind that if the IFG meeting is changed to create a
> requirement for "concrete deliverables", this critical feature of the forum
> will be lost.

Hear hear. 

It would also mean that it puts governments in the position of negotiating the outcome of the IGF which has several implications. 

It takes away the open-ended nature of the discussions and the free and open exchange of ideas. Governments (and in part the rest of us too) will have to defend their positions as the outcomes of the IGF will have to be considered or even implemented in their countries. Once you have agreed text, a country can't just decide that they want to ignore it. 

It also moves the discussions away from focusing on real issues, to negotiating paragraphs and words. I have been in those types of UN meetings, and believe me, it is not a particularly satisfying process. (Anyone who is not a professional diplomat, who has been in meetings where a whole document ends up in *square brackets, shivers at the thought of such negotiations.)

While I can see that in some international negotiations (say peace negotiations?), the slowness of that process can be a feature, I am certain that when it comes to the Internet, that slowness is a bug. Rough consensus and running code works a lot better and making things work on the Internet.


*Square brackets are used in UN contexts to mark text that cannot be agreed on. When I was in the UN CSTD WG on IGF improvements, in the first round, we failed miserably as a group to agree on anything. Text was being thrown up on the screen, only to immediately be protested by someone, and consequently being put in square brackets. At the end of the meeting, the whole document was in square brackets... 

> Nick

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