Internet Governance 3 December 2011

Internet Society Contribution: The IGF Multistakeholder Advisory Group Questionnaire

Internet Society Contribution:
The Internet Governance Forum Multistakeholder Advisory Group Questionnaire

8 November 2010

To follow-up on the 12 May 2010 MAG meeting, the Secretariat put out a request for comments on several questions relating to the future of the IGF Multistakeholder Advisory Group and of the IGF itself.

Following are responses from the Internet Society, incorporating suggestions from our global membership.

1. Has the work of the MAG been consistent with the mandate set out in the Tunis Agenda and subsequent decisions?

INTERNET SOCIETY COMMENT: The mandate for the work of the MAG was far from clear in the Tunis Agenda. Despite the need to organize a new type of forum in an environment where it is closely observed, the MAG has found ways to work that are inclusive, draw upon appropriate resources from all interested stakeholders, and has been responsive to suggestions from all stakeholders. The MAGʼs diverse makeup, its responsiveness and its willingness to evolve are its major strengths. The current MAG members and those who served before them have risen to the challenges set out in the Tunis Agenda and have succeeded in building a platform that underpins the accomplishments of the IGF.

2. How best to nominate non governmental members for the MAG?

INTERNET SOCIETY COMMENT: The informal process for nominating, reviewing and selecting non-governmental MAG members has worked well so far, as has the informal process of rotation that has evolved. We believe that the principles of multistakeholderism and of a balanced composition have made this success possible. As the MAG evolves in the future, these principles must be preserved.

At present, the business community and civil society have each created nomination processes that are effective in their own communities. The Internet technical community has also developed an informal consultation mechanism to determine which individuals would be effective contributors to the MAG process and their names have been put forward as individual nominees. If the IGF is continued, it and the MAG have reached a stage of maturity that would support a more formal process for nominating non-governmental membership. The following suggestions are intended to help in establishing that process.

Firstly, it is important to revise the definition of stakeholder groups that constitute the MAG to bring it into line with the reality of Internet governance mechanisms. Specifically, although the Internet technical and administrative communities were not specified as stakeholders by the WSIS, past MAG members from the Internet Society, the RIRs, ICANN and operators of the Internetʼs core organizations (ccTLD managers, for example) have been active and positive contributors to the process. Furthermore, they have contributed specific expertise to the MAGʼs tasks that would not have been easily obtained in any other way. Increasingly, international organizations such as the OECD, recognize the existence, the expertise and the contributions of the Internet technical community. We recommend that the Internet technical community be recognized specifically as a stakeholder group for the purposes of selecting MAG members.

Second, the different stakeholder groups should be asked to nominate a slate of prospective candidates for MAG memberships, but the process should also be open to individual nominations. To accommodate the different avenues by which prospective candidates are put forward, the MAG of any particular year could constitute a nominating committee to verify the suitability of all candidates, and to select their replacements. One way to constitute the nominating committee would be to establish a two- or three- year fixed term for MAG members, with those retiring making up the nominating committee.

3. How best to nominate the MAG Chair?

INTERNET SOCIETY COMMENT: The IGF has been fortunate to have someone of Nitin Desaiʼs stature and ability as MAG Chair for its first five years. He will not easily be replaced, should he decide to move on to other challenges. The Internet Society recommends that each of the stakeholder groups be given the opportunity to nominate one of their members to be a co-Chair of the MAG. The co-chairs could then work with the outgoing Chair and head of the IGF Secretariat to choose one of their number to act as Chair. The others would then serve as vice-Chairs. Such a process would work best if there is a three-year rotation of MAG members, so that a new member could spend one year as a simple member, with the most able then spending a second year as a vice-Chair, and perhaps ultimately could spend their final year as MAG Chair.

4. How best to organize open consultations?

INTERNET SOCIETY COMMENT: The open consultations have become more useful as the IGF process has evolved. The Internet Society supports the continuing efforts to open the MAG process to willing volunteers who can help with the work of developing the IGF program. But for the open consultations to be truly open, the IGF needs to continue to improve mechanisms for remote participation, including both interactive audio streaming and real-time transcription of sessions. The innovation of having a remote participation moderator in all Vilnius IGF sessions was a success, and similar steps should be taken to enhance the ability of remote participants to take part in the open consultations and planning sessions.

5. How best to link with regional meetings?

INTERNET SOCIETY COMMENT: Regional and local IGFs have become a key feature of the IGF. They take place closest to where the work of Internet governance is actually done, and so they have the potential and responsibility to keep IGF discussions rooted in real, bottom-up knowledge of the potential for Internet governance. Thus it is important that the regional meetings be recognized and fully integrated into the overall IGF planning process.

The various stakeholder groups should be encouraged to involve themselves in the regional IGFs, to ensure they benefit from the full range of views. IGF sessions should be required to assure full regional balance as a way of demonstrating the linkages between the global and regional events.

From a methodological point of view, giving more weight to the national and regional IGFs could be made in different ways: encouraging the multiplication of local events possibly with the help of regional coordinators, archiving their preparations and outcomes in a way to use them and take them into account when preparing the global IGF. Enhancing the bottom-up methodology of the IGF structure, organizing chronologically the discussion of issues at the national, then regional and global level and keeping track of the history and the geographical parameters of issues discussed. In a similar way, the spread of regional hubs meeting concurrently with the global IGF offers opportunities to bring regional perspectives to the meeting. The continuing improvement of remote participation tools and awareness can assist greatly.

6. How best to link with international processes and institutions?

INTERNET SOCIETY COMMENT: Because the IGF does not (and should not) have a formal institutional charter, it is essential for more established international institutions to participate actively in the IGF, both in its planning and operational phases. The IGF Secretariat and MAG could play a role by ensuring that participants in other international processes and institutions are aware of the IGF and how it works, and by encouraging participation. However, creating any kind of more formal institutional linkage would not be appropriate for the kind of lightweight and decentralized structure that the Tunis Agenda specified for the IGF.

For further information, please contact:
Bill Graham
Strategic Global Engagement
Internet Society
[email protected]

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