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

bzs at theworld.com bzs at theworld.com
Tue Aug 2 20:59:53 UTC 2022

ALAC could be a power if they acted as an effective conduit for other
significant interested parties, much like the GAC does for govt'l

But to build that there'd have to be something on the table for those
interested parties.

On August 1, 2022 at 14:45 at-large at atlarge-lists.icann.org (Antony Van Couvering via At-Large) wrote:
 > Hi Evan,
 > As an advisory committee, ALAC could be a power bloc if it spoke forcefully and
 > with one voice about the issues that pertain to power. I agree however that
 > this seems a distant prospect. Frankly I am surprised that there hasn’t been a
 > concerted effort to take it over, which probably just means that there are
 > easier ways to achieve desired results. 
 > I can tell you from years of experience as head of a registry and registrar
 > that it never seemed as if we got our way. I found that most common-sense
 > reforms or policies that I proposed were met with stony-faced indifference, not
 > to say hostility, by ICANN staff. 
 > ICANN the organization is marching to its own beat and they ignore or sidetrack
 > everyone, not just ALAC, unless they see their own power-building agenda
 > furthered. When they don’t like something, they demand unanimity; and when they
 > want something done they just do it.  Even if not originally designed to do so,
 > the procedures for creating policy function primarily to get everyone into the
 > weeds where disagreement between groups are inevitable. 
 > Antony
 >     On Aug 1, 2022, at 13:22, Evan Leibovitch <evan at telly.org> wrote:
 >     Hi Antony,
 >     I have little issue with your comments, and I certainly agree with their
 >     conclusion that the reality of MSM is the opposite of what it promises in
 >     theory. The main difference I see between your generalism of MSM and
 >     ICANN's particular implementation -- which makes ICANN's even worse -- is
 >     the ability for one group of stakeholders (the compact of domain sellers
 >     and buyers that is the GNSO) to compel the Board on policy, regardless of
 >     objections from all other inputs.
 >     I must admit that I had a laugh at the description of ALAC as a power bloc.
 >     Thanks for the contribution.
 >     - Evan
 >     On Wed, Jul 27, 2022 at 2:09 PM Antony Van Couvering via At-Large <
 >     at-large at atlarge-lists.icann.org> wrote:
 >         [Renaming the thread…]
 >         "Multi-stakeholder” is a euphemism for a form of governance otherwise
 >         known as functional constituency politics. As practiced at ICANN, it is
 >         a plan, articulated to me by ICANN staffers in the very early days when
 >         it was all being put together, to put each group into a “sandbox” so
 >         that they could argue among themselves while ICANN the organization
 >         does what it wants while maintaining the appearance of inclusiveness
 >         and fairness. 
 >         Functional constituency politics has an inglorious history. Its main
 >         contribution over time has been to convince observers that existing
 >         rulers with vested interests are never going to implement fair rules on
 >         their own. That it why they are hardly ever used today except in
 >         settings where the ruled are too ignorant / naive / corrupted to
 >         complain effectively and there is no supervisory authority to restrain
 >         abuses. 
 >         The most recent well-known example of constituency politics is Hong
 >         Kong under the British. (I’m not saying rule by the CCP I better, it’s
 >         just that the previous system also really sucked.) Earlier examples
 >         include the Republic of Venice, where “The republic was ruled by the
 >         doge, who was elected by members of the Great Council of Venice, the
 >         city-state's parliament, and ruled for life. The ruling class was an
 >         oligarchy of merchants and aristocrats.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki
 >         /Republic_of_Venice).  
 >         In Hong Kong under the Empire, constituency politics was liked by
 >         no-one except the apparatchiks who managed it, the ruling class that
 >         made money under it, and the British Government’s Executive Council,
 >         which ignored it but liked the democratic optics.  It was neither
 >         responsive, democratic, or workable. Effectively it meant that the
 >         power in Hong Kong, to the extent that it was devolved at all from the
 >         Executive Council, was highly centralized in the hands of the bankers
 >         and industrial magnates. 
 >         See if you can recognize the similarities:
 >         "The Executive Council determined administrative policy changes and
 >         considered primary legislation before passing it to the Legislative
 >         Council for approval. This advisory body also itself issued secondary
 >         legislation under a limited set of colonial ordinances. The Legislative
 >         Council debated proposed legislation…. Indirectly elected functional
 >         constituency seats were introduced in 1985.
 >         (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Hong_Kong#Government)
 >         These functional constituencies were completely undemocratic, as well
 >         as being largely powerless:
 >         (1) 12 geographical constituencies were based on population, with
 >         500,000 people for each geographical constituency. Note that even these
 >         “normal” democratic seats were given out by “indirect” election.  (Can
 >         anyone say NomCom?)
 >         (2) 12 functional constituencies were based on… well… established
 >         power, and were balanced so that the wrong sort of people who might
 >         threaten the status quo were never given any positions of power.  They
 >         were:
 >         - First commercial seat (Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce)
 >         - Second commercial seat (Chinese General Chamber of Commerce)
 >         - First industrial seat (Federation of Hong Kong Industries)
 >         - Second industrial seat (Chinese Manufacturers’ Association of Hong
 >         Kong)
 >         - Financial seat (Hong Kong Association of Banks)
 >         - Labour (2 seats) - recognized trade unions of Hong Kong
 >         - Social Services - Hong Kong Council of Social Services
 >         - Medical - Hong Kong Medical Association
 >         - Teaching
 >         - Legal
 >         - Engineering, Architectural, Surveying, Planning
 >         (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1985_Hong_Kong_legislative_election)
 >         ICANN Board = Executive Council
 >         Functional Constituencies = the acronym salad of all the powerless
 >         groups within ICANN
 >         Geographical Constituencies by indirect election = NomCom
 >         Vested-interest power blocs, such as exist in ICANN today — the
 >         advisory committees, the supporting organization, and the subgroups
 >         within them — were not created to come up with solutions, even if they
 >         are convinced that they do.  Functionally, they exist to prevent people
 >         with a common agenda from coming together as a single bloc to challenge
 >         ICANN the corporation. 
 >         The tell-tale characteristics of such systems are readily apparent
 >         within ICANN
 >         - Low turnover of officials within the groups (just look around to see
 >         this at ICANN)
 >         - Decline, obsolescense, and fossilization of certain constituencies,
 >         which nonetheless retain their status (see: ISP grouping within GNSO)
 >         - Turf wars and takeover plots to “own” certain constituencies (e.g.,
 >         the attempt by not-for-profit intellectual property interests (e.g.,
 >         Red Cross) to take over the NCUC)
 >         - A large bureaucracy dedicated to preserving the power of the
 >         executive (the Board), while tying all other groups in knots with
 >         arcane and time-consuming rules and procedures.  
 >         - Hostility to democratic reforms, typically justified by concerns
 >         about “fraud” (rejection of direct elections to the Board).  
 >         I support diversity of opinion, which is what the multi-stakeholder
 >         model promises.  In fact, however, it delivers the opposite, because
 >         that’s the way it’s set up to operate. 
 >         Antony
 >         P.S. To those that note that the GAC is not powerless, this is true
 >         only because it has external levers to make ICANN pay attention. If it
 >         were limited to its delineated powers within ICANN, it would be as
 >         powerless as the other groups. 
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