[At-Large] Multistakeholderism Explained (was Re: ICANN75: Mandatory Funded Traveler Registration for Roberto Gaetano)

bzs at theworld.com bzs at theworld.com
Thu Jul 28 06:02:27 UTC 2022

The Criticism section for the wikipedia page on


Was removed on 5 March 2017 due to lack of sources and other complaints.

What it said was (from the 22 November 2016 version):


  Criticism of multistakeholderism comes from Paul R. Lehto,
  J.D.[citation needed], who fears that in multistakeholderism, those
  who would be lobbyists become legislators, and nobody else has a
  vote. Lehto states that "In a democracy, it is a scandal when
  lobbyists have so much influence that they write the drafts of
  laws. But in multistakeholder situations they take that scandal to a
  whole new level: those who would be lobbyists in a democracy
  (corporations, experts, civil society) become the legislators
  themselves, and dispense with all public elections and not only
  write the laws but pass them, enforce them, and in some cases even
  set up courts of arbitration that are usually conditioned on waiving
  the right to go to the court system set up by democracies. A vote is
  just a minimum requirement of justice. Without a vote, law is just
  force inflicted by the wealthy and powerful. Multistakeholderism is
  a coup d’etat against democracy by those who would merely be
  lobbyists in a democratic system.

The important thought can be summed up (by me) as:

  In a multistakeholder system you dispense with legislators as
  targets for influence by interested lobbyists and just let the
  lobbyists be the legislators.

I think there are uses for multistakeholderism*.

I'm not convinced it was a good idea for ICANN.

My impression is it was a popular buzzword at the time and it
afforded, as above, governance primarily by interested parties.

That said, I am not an expert in governance models.

I've chatted about this with people who are and have come to respect
that it's an area of expertise.

It would be interesting to hear from such experts vis a vis ICANN.

It's not that interesting to hear from people who aren't experts other
than their subsequent reaction to the advice of such experts which
would be important since they would become the governed.

How might this change?

The problem, if it is a problem, is that those with the power to force
change (e.g., govts or similar) are probably pretty happy that someone
else (i.e., ICANN) worries about this remit.

The net runs pretty well even if there are complaints, scandals have
been relatively minor and have been handled internally, so why upend
their system? The devil you know versus the devil you don't.

Put another way I think one needs something more than "it doesn't seem
fair or democratic" or "some decisions I would have done differently".

* Perhaps for example some public relations council for the dairy
industry so interested parties can decide how the budget is spent. Or
a medical licensing organization where decisions to remove a doctor's
license can only be fairly made by a group of MDs who understand the

        -Barry Shein

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