[At-Large] Fwd: [Internet Policy] Fwd: [WG-Strategy] Seeking roll back of the IGF Leadership Panel

parminder parminder at itforchange.net
Fri Nov 26 04:19:07 UTC 2021

Forwarded as a response to Evan's email on this subject on this elist ..

-------- Forwarded Message --------
Subject: 	Re: [Internet Policy] Fwd: [WG-Strategy] [At-Large] Seeking
roll back of the IGF Leadership Panel
Date: 	Fri, 26 Nov 2021 09:46:58 +0530
From: 	parminder <parminder.js at gmail.com>
To: 	internetpolicy at elists.isoc.org

I have views on both Wolfgang's and Evan's responses to our letter, and
their position vis a vis the new IGF Leadership Panel.

What however completely passes me is how anyone can agree with both
Evan's and Wolfgang's positions, as some have some... Unless, of
offense, but one is just desperate to somehow agree with whatever is
happening, and looks difficult to change.

Evan's and Wolfgang's positions come from fundamentally opposed
premises, and have fundamentally different expectations from the
Leadership Panel. In fact there positions like in two opposite extremes
from mine, or in other words mine is actually somewhere in the middle. I
therefore find it difficult to in the same email argue against the two

Meanwhile, I'd request those supporting both positions to help me
understand how both can be right. Thanks.

Evan considers the IGF to a bubble removed from world's reality,
something which has entirely failed. It is so dead or nearly so, that
Even is happy if it can be given a last squeeze, everything being
otherwise so dismal, that something good may come out.. He himself says
he is not sure, and I am paraphrasing, if his medicine is worse than the
cure. He just thinks that the IGF is all talk, ineffective, etc, and
anything outcome- oriented is better than that. He seems to have applied
no mind to what that outcome- oriented would be, how it would work, and
what kind of outcomes can be expected (obviously, not all outcomes are
describable.) I consider it kind of desperate kind of view, which, my
apologies, but does not deserve any serious consideration among people
who concern themselves with long term nature and implications of
governance institutions. It is quite like, and as desperate as, crying
out, all this bloody liberal democracy just doesn't work, bring in a
good dictator inside, we would at least see some action!

This is despite that I normally have quite respected Evan's views, agree
with him that the IGF has become an insiders bubble, and had a disease
needing cure, etc. He is completely wrong that in indicated that we as
letter writers have any intention to perpetuate the status quo, live off
it, etc, which I think he need to know more about how much we fight the
status quo every day, including the IGFs. He is also wrong that no
alternatives are offered; we so regularly offer them, and we were also
one of the most active members of the CSTD WG on IGF improvements.

To sum; I take Evan's critique to be of an outsider, who has rightly
seem a lot of problems with the IGF, but not been invested enough, nor
thought through the new Leadership Panel's nature and likely
implications, whereby his statement of the problem is fine, but
accepting the Leadership Panel as a solution to try out way off .. Since
he himself says he isnt sure if the sure is better than the disease, I
think he confirms my summing of his position. I read it as genuine
expression of desperation with the current IGF, which I considerably
share, and nothing more -- nothing that can really be taken serious
about the actual discussion here, about the new Leadership Panel ..


On 25/11/21 5:37 pm, Winthrop Yu via InternetPolicy wrote:
> Not that i disagree with what Wolfgang is saying here, but i am more
> fully in accord with the comments on this by Evan and Roberto on the
> At-Large list. (We have a forked discussion.)
> WYn
> On 25 Nov 2021 7:18 pm, Carlos Afonso via InternetPolicy wrote:
>> Careful and relevant considerations by Wolfgang.
>> A lot is still on the discussion table regarding how this HL will
>> work and relate to the overall IGF community. One option is to
>> discard it, another is to keep it and make sure we participate in the
>> process from the beginning.
>> []s fraternos
>> --c.a.
>> On 24/11/2021 16:47, Wolfgang Kleinwächter wrote:
>>> Hi,
>>> I disagree with the letter, signed by Parminder and Milton. I do not
>>> share their arguments. I believe, that Parminders and Miltons
>>> proposal, to "urge civil society and technical community, to refrain
>>> from sending any nominations for the IGF Leadership Panel" is very
>>> counterproductive, undermines the future role of the IGF and weakens
>>> civil society engagement in Internet related public policy making at
>>> the global level.
>>> The IGF is indeed a unique experiment in the UN system. Its key
>>> purpose is to broaden the participatory base of digital policy
>>> making. Since 2006 it has enabled a broad variety of voices to be
>>> heard, including those voices otherwise marginalized.It was (and is)
>>> a kitchen to cook new ideas. Discussion without barriers. Bottom Up.
>>> This was the intention. It has worked, but it did have also its limits.
>>> As a member of the UN Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG),
>>> which proposed the establishment of the IGF in 2005, I think we were
>>> very right to create the IGF as a "discussion plattform" (forum
>>> function) without any decision making capacity. The fear was, that
>>> if the IGF becomes a negotiation body, this will kill free and frank
>>> discussions. And indeed, the informal nature of the IGF did open
>>> "mouths and minds" of all stakeholders.
>>> I was also a member of the UNCSTD IGF Improvement Working Group
>>> (2012). In this group we agreed that the IGF should continue as a
>>> discussion platform, but needs more tangible outputs.
>>> The outcome of the IGF are its (sometimes controversial) "messages".
>>> There are no "IGF positions": some stakeholders say so, others say
>>> so. It is a bottom up process. And this is good for a discussion
>>> platform.,
>>> However, the digital world has moved forward in the last 17 years.
>>> Internet Governance isn´t anymore a "technical issue with political
>>> implications", it is a "political issue with a technical component".
>>> For many Internet related public policy issues new bodies have been
>>> created outside the WSIS process and dislinked from the IGF. In the
>>> 2020s, there are more than a dozen global negotiation bodies where
>>> issues like cybersecurity, digital economy, sustainable development
>>> or human rights in the digital age are disucssed. Those issues are
>>> on the agenda of the IGF since its beginning. But the reality is,
>>> that the policy makers in the new negotiation bodies, which are
>>> primarily intergovernmental bodies, are in many cases not informed
>>> about the IGF discussions. They even have very often no clue what
>>> was discussed at the IGF. There is neither a formal nor an informal
>>> linkage between the "discussion layer" (the multistakeholder IGF)
>>> and the the "decision making layer" (new intergovernmental
>>> negotiation bodies).
>>> There is a need to bring the expertise, knowledge and ideas from the
>>> multistakeholder IGF to the intergovernmental negotiation table. And
>>> the IGF will benefit, if the diplomats report back - formally or
>>> informally - to the IGF sessions. The idea of the Multistakeholder
>>> Leadership Panel (MLP) is driven by this idea to build bridges.
>>> The proposal for the Multistakeholder IGF Leadership Panel is the
>>> result of a years long multistakeholder discussion process, where
>>> all pros and cons of such a new unit were critically evaluated and
>>> considered by many different groups, including many civil society
>>> organisations. It was inspired by the UNCSTD work. It started with
>>> the UNSG High Level Panel on Digital Cooperation (2018). It was
>>> developed by the Option Paper 5A&B (2019) and further specified in
>>> the UNSG Roadmap (2020).
>>> Risks, which were articulated in various statements of civil society
>>> organisations, that a new unit will emerge outside the IGF and could
>>> lead to a competitive situation, duplication or overlapping of
>>> functions, with the potential to weaken the IGF, has been heard by
>>> the UNSG. My understanding of the multistakeholder leadership panel
>>> - with its very limited mandate - is, that it is part of the general
>>> IGF structure and rooted in the (broader) MAG. It is like an
>>> executive committee for the MAG and will make the work of the whole
>>> MAG more efficent and effective.  It makes the IGF stronger, more
>>> visible on the international scene and will open the door for a more
>>> enhanced bottom up cooperation among all stakeholders in global
>>> Internet policy making.  It is an IGF+. Members of the new Panel
>>> will act as ambassadors between the discussion and decision-making
>>> layers. They are not the "new Internet policy makers", they function
>>> like a "post office", bringing the messages from the
>>> multistakeholder IGF to the intergovernmental negotiation table and
>>> vice versa.
>>> This is a unique opportunity for civil society. And civil society
>>> organisations, in particular from the Global South, should make use
>>> of it. Strong civil society representation in the multistakeholder
>>> leadership panel will contribute to build a human centric
>>> information society, based on the Civil Society WSIS Declaration
>>> (2003), the Tunis Agenda (2005) and the Multistakeholder NetMundial
>>> Statement (2014). And it will pave the way for a strong civil
>>> society voice in the process towards a "Global Digital Compact" (2023).
>>> Best wishes
>>> Wolfgang
>>> Below are links to our "multistakeholder statement" for the Option
>>> Paper 5A&B (2020) and the outcome from a multistakeholder expert
>>> seminar (2021) where a lot of civil society organisations where
>>> represented.
>>> https://circleid.com/posts/20210304-framing-the-internet-governance-debate-long-road-to-wsis-2025
>>> <https://circleid.com/posts/20210304-framing-the-internet-governance-debate-long-road-to-wsis-2025>
>>> https://circleid.com/posts/20200426-cross-pollination-in-cyberspace-internet-governance-spaghetti-ball
>>> <https://circleid.com/posts/20200426-cross-pollination-in-cyberspace-internet-governance-spaghetti-ball>
>>>> parminder via At-Large <at-large at atlarge-lists.icann.org> hat am
>>>> 24.11.2021 16:12 geschrieben:
>>>> 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.
>>>> It 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
>>>> _______________________________________________ At-Large mailing
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