Policy and decision-making and multi-stakeholderism – international, national and regional experiences. Is there an European vision? – PL 04 2010
30 April 2010 | 14:30-15:30
Programme overview 2010
- Ana Cristina Neves, Knowledge Society Agency, Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education Head
- Bart Cammaerts, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
- Frédéric Donck, ISOC European Regional Bureau
- Markus Kummer, IGF Secretariat
- Prof Luis Magalhães, President of the Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC), Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education
- Giacomo Mazzone, EBU
- David Souter, ICT Development Associates/University of Strathclyde
- Leonid Todorov, CCTLD.RU
- Ana Cristina Neves, Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education, Portugal
- Georgios Kipouros, JEF – European Youth Forum – London School of Economics
Remote participation moderator
- Rudi Vansnick, ISOC Belgium – EURALO – ISOCC ECC
Multi-stakeholderism is a confrontation between different models of democracy: the representative democratic model versus the participatory democracy model which has developed as a way to counter the crisis of representative democracy. Multi-stakeholderism addresses the disconnection between the governors and the governed albeit noting that there are limitations as to what multi-stakeholderism can do: it cannot assure by itself legitimacy and representativeness. It cannot assure universality in points of view. It cannot be considered immune to being captured by special interests and manipulative practices. National IG debates support the idea of multi-stakeholderism on a global level. Where there is no tradition of consultation outside the spheres of government, countries have started adopting the multi-stakeholder approach for issues related to Internet governance.
Multi-stakeholderism is in a way a confrontation between different models of democracy: the representative democratic model versus the participatory democracy model which developed as a way to counter the crisis of representative democracy. Multistakeholderism addresses the disconnection between the governors and the governed.
Multi-stakeholderism is indeed related to government accountability to citizens and responsiveness to citizen demands yet it has to function in a dialogue with traditional representative schemes in democracy.
However there are limitations as to what multi-stakeholderism can do. It cannot assure by itself legitimacy and representatively. It cannot assure universality in points of view. It cannot be considered immune to being captured by special interests and manipulative practices.
Multi-stakeholderism is important in today’s world but the nature of international politics, rather confliction instead of consensual, should also be considered when examining its potential impact. In fact, multi-stakeholderism has proven to work in practice only when the stakes are not too high.
When expectations from multi-stakeholderism are great but not materialized in actual, real life practices, then this can be a source of frustration for all sides involved.
The definition of participation is also important: there are different kinds of participation varying from full to partial to fake and manipulative participation and each kind can define the success or failure of a multi-stakeholder approach.
Who participates, who are the stakeholders to be involved in multi-stakeholder processes? Who is part of the civil society? What are the right means for inclusion?
Internet governance (IG) and multi-stakeholderism
The IGF is sometimes expected to produce more than its mission, which is to provide a platform for a dialogue. It does not entail a direct decision-making result; it is a policy-shaping rather than a policy-making setting. The IGF gathers all the stakeholders together; there is a substantial, open, transparent dialogue between governments, private sector, civil society and technical community.
The governments and institutions that run the internet cannot be substituted by the IGF, in the end it’s the governments who take the decisions.
Broadly speaking, the value of a forum like the IGF and EuroDIG is established by its participants and such efforts are worthwhile because of the ability of its stakeholders to freely ensure the coherence between local and international models.
The IGF is in many ways a good practice of multi-stakeholderism. There is a substantial impact from the IGF in IG-related legislation. The forum supports the notion that multi-stakeholderism could effectively spread in other areas too.
National IG debates further support the idea of multi-stakeholderism on a global level. For example, authorities in Africa, where there is no tradition of consultation outside the spheres of government, have started adopting the multi-stakeholder approach for issues related to Internet governance.
The genius of the Internet lies in its decentralized architecture. As such, the structure of the Internet governance mechanism mirrors its technical architecture: the Internet is all about inclusiveness, shared responsibility and a multi-stakeholder approach.
There exists a draft code of practice on information participation and transparency for Internet Governance.1 It sets principles and guidelines in four main areas. The mission of the code is for Internet Governance entities to use it to review their own experience, compare it with other Internet Governance bodies and provide a framework for developing practices as the field grows.
Finally, we should be asking the question: which stakeholders are missing from the dialogue on Internet governance? It is not just for Internet insiders but must engage with those primarily concerned that are spread in different policy areas.
1 The Council of Europe, the UN Economic Commission for Europe and the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) have jointly prepared a draft code of practice on information, participation and transparency in Internet Governance. It sets principles and guidelines in four main areas. The mission of the code is for Internet Governance entities to use it to review their own experience, compare it with other Internet Governance bodies and provide a framework for developing practices as the field grows.
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>> ANA CRISTINA NEVES: Well, hello. Good afternoon. So this session is called policy and decision making and multistakeholderism - international, national, and regional experiences. And finally, is there a European vision on this issue or not?
We have seven speakers, and I will tell who they are on this order. Bart Cammaerts from university, London School of Economics, he will frame from academic backgrounds, so he will be first speaker. The second speaker will be – the third one will be Giacomo Mazzone from the European Broadcasting Union. The fourth speaker will be Frederic Donck from civil society, so from ISOC European Regional Bureau. The fifth speaker will be David Souter from ICT Development Associates and University of Strathclyde. The sixth speaker will be a representative from the government, Luis Magalhaes, and last but not least Markus Kummer, Secretariat from all the regional IGFs.
We’ll have Georgios Kipouros from European Youth Forum and from London School of Economics as well. And Miya Coach will be our remote participator.
I would like to ask each of our speakers today to introduce themselves, so I’d like to give a minute to each of them and to say something about them because then I will introduce the theme, then we will go back to the panelists.
So Bart, please.
>> BART CAMMAERTS: Hello. I’m Bart Cammaerts. I teach at LSE, and the reason I am sitting here is I’ve been doing some research on multistakeholder processes for a couple of years, specifically looking at the World Summit on the Information Society, but also at the Convention on the Future of Europe, and I hope to kind of give you some insights in a minute in terms of trying to give you an overview what – how we can approach multistakeholder processes more from a theoretical perspective.
>> ANA CRISTINA NEVES: Thank you. Leonid Todorov.
>> LEONID TODOROV: I’m Leonid Todorov. I work with ccTLD Russia, and I am head of government relations, and as such, I have to serve as liaison between the community and the government.
>> ANA CRISTINA NEVES: Thank you. Giacomo Mazzone.
>> GIACOMO MAZZONE: Yes. We are invited here as industry sector, but in reality, as broadcasting union of the world, there are eight in the world, we have within our members state radio broadcasters, so member of the governance organization. We have private broadcasters, so fully integrated in the industry sector. And we have television, broadcasters that are run by foundation, so that belongs to the civil society. So we are in the multisector all in our DNA, let’s say.
>> ANA CRISTINA NEVES: Thank you. Frederic Donck.
>> FREDERIC DONCK: Yes. Thank you, Chairman – Chair. Frederic Donck, Internet society. The society has been founded in ’92, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the open development and use of Internet for the benefit of the people. I am the head of the European Regional Bureau that has been recently created in Brussels because Europe is definitely a key partner for those questions, and as you might know, the Internet society has been for a long time involved in Internet governance and from the inception. Thank you.
>> ANA CRISTINA NEVES: Thank you. David Souter.
>> DAVID SOUTER: Hi. I’m David Souter, an independent expert in Internet communications and sustainable development, in particular, and also policy and regulation issues, and I work on the relationship between the Internet and society.
Specifically here, however, I’m here on behalf of three organizations: The Council of Europe, the UN Economic Commission for Europe, and the Association for Progressive Communications, to say something about a joint initiative which they’re running.
>> ANA CRISTINA NEVES: Thank you. Luis Magalhaes.
>> LUIS MAGALHAES: I’m from Portugal. President of a governmental agency whose mission is to coordinate Information Society policies across all sectors. It operates within the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Higher Education. My other connections with things that may be relevant for these debates are connections with participation in IGF on CSDD in United Nations, on ICANN through the Governmental Advisory Committee, and on OECD through the ICCP, the information, computers, and communication policy committee, as well as several European Union committees.
>> ANA CRISTINA NEVES: Thank you very much. Markus Kummer.
>> MARKUS KUMMER: I’m Markus Kummer. I run the IGF Secretariat, and I’m busy preparing the meeting. And as a second job, I’m attempted to say I’m a professional visitor of regional IGF initiatives, like this one.
>> ANA CRISTINA NEVES: So we have a good panel because it comes from government, it comes from civil society, it comes from industry, so we have a good bunch of stakeholders to discuss this theme.
My name is Ana Cristina Neves, and I’m from the Knowledge Society Agency of the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Higher Education in Portugal.
So just a few words to frame this discussion and to ask some questions. As stated in the Tunis agenda, Internet governance is the development and application by governments, the private sector, and the civil society in their respective roles of shared principles, norms, rules, decision making, procedures, and programs that shape the evolution and use of the Internet. The authority in question is now that of states, multinational corporations, international organizations, and transnational civil society groups.
Some questions that at least I have. Does Internet governance entail a system of shared responsibilities for a common global resource? How does it cope with the concept of sovereignty of states and the legitimacy of the governments to make decisions and enact laws that might have an impact on other states?
How are the policy decision and the decision-making processes built up in a multistakeholder ambience? Do we need more international, transnational, or regional agreements? From where are we coming and where are we going to? How can stakeholders influence governments and their policy decisions and decision making? How does the bottom-up influence work at these different levels, international, national, and regional?
I will talking about a new international relation system. Is there a European vision on these issues that will be raised during the discussion, or will be the issues the same that are raised in any other region around the world?
So now I will start, I will give the floor to the panelists. Only to shape and to trigger a debate that is ours. So I will start with Bart, please, for an introduction of about four or five minutes, please.
>> BART CAMMAERTS: Okay. Thank you. If you look at the multistakeholder approach or multistakeholder processes, there are a number of implicit assumptions that are in there and that I would like to kind of bring out in the open and that might also be helpful later on when we deal with the more practical and empirical issues of what it actually is that happens in those processes.
First of all, we have to see multistakeholderism within kind of a – not really a clash, but a confrontation between different paradigms, different models of democracy. On the one hand, the representative democratic model, which is based on competitive elitism, which is, in many ways, still the dominant model of decision making.
On the other hand, there’s also a paradigm which is often called participatory democracy, which emerged in the 1970s, ’68, and was later on also taken up by Benjamin Barber, for example, in his work Strong Democracy.
Now, participatory democracy is increasingly seen as a way to counter the crisis of representative democracy and to address the disconnection between those that govern and those that are governed.
Now, because the participation itself is also contentious, what do we mean by participation? Participation is increasingly becoming an empty concept. Looking in the literature on political theory, we see that there are different kinds of participations being defined from full participation where each actor within the process has equal power to determine the outcomes, to partial participation, where all actors can influence the decision making, but only one actor has the power to decide, and here already the concept of power emerges, and I’ll come back to that in a second.
But there’s also a concept of fake participation and manipulative participation, which gives the participants the impression that they can participate and have an impact, but actually, they don’t.
If you look at power as a crucial concept there, we have, for example, concepts of dialectics of control, which tries to mediate between structure on the one hand and agency or change on the other hand; but we also have perspectives of power which is much more diffused concept of power, where powers is not possessed by actors but practiced in social context. It looks more at micro level. And there also we see the concept of resistance emerging against power.
In terms of multistakeholder processes, another concept that’s of real importance is the concept of deliberation, which means the confrontation of rational arguments under what is called ideal speech conditions, and these are all participants are equal, the strength of the argument is more important than those who voice it, and there should be a willingness to change your view when confronted with good and solid counterarguments. It’s, per definition, a very consensual way of decision making which is very inherent and will resonate with those who have been working in terms of multistakeholder processes.
However, the problem is that politics is often conflictual rather than consensual. There are different interests that clash, and many of these interests are simply irreconcilable.
There’s also the importance of passions and emotions within politics, and deliberation also often excludes radical positions.
And then there’s also the question of who participates, who are the stakeholders. There’s the business sector. There’s the states and international organizations who need to kind of negotiate or balance out public interests, what we consider the common good versus particular interests defended by powerful lobby groups.
If you look at civil society, increasingly, this is seen from a – perspective in the sense it is seen as a semiautonomous sphere from state and market. But still, there are questions there in terms of who is civil society? Who is included? Who is excluded? There is – certainly if you look at Internet governance, there is clearly a need for expertise there. You cannot go into these processes without expertise because you will not be taken seriously.
You need to have, as an organization or as an individual, resources to be active in these processes. Human resources as well as financial resources to go to all these meetings, et cetera. And that leads, often, to an excluding of the distance, an excluding also of radical voices again.
And then finally, a fifth point, since multistakeholderism also, of course, happens in the national level, but if we transpose that to the international level, there’s also the issue of international relations here, and here I would like to point to the constructivist perspective that puts an importance, again, on agencies versus structural constraints, pointing to the possibility of change and how, within the constructivist approach, this happens through speech acts and through discourse that is being produced by these processes, which leads to certain rules, certain precedents, certain promises that are being made and articulated and enacted having consequences for subsequent processes, and that is where I would argue the Internet governance debate and forum and multistakeholder process is of relevance.
But on the other hand, this can also lead to frustration as expectations might be too high in terms of the promises being made and are subsequently not materialized in the real world of diplomacy and the wheeling and dealing that goes on there.
Internet governance, I would say, was in many ways a best practice of multistakeholderism. Certainly, within the working group of Internet governance, which produced an interesting and fairly balanced report, and subsequently, we also see similar practices emerging in the Internet governance forum.
But it seems to me that multistakeholderism, from the evidence – the empirical evidence – can only work if the stakes are not too lie. If really important decisions need to be made, multistakeholderism often fails precisely because of the conflicts that I mentioned earlier and the interests that clash.
For example, most of the conclusions in the working group on Internet governance balanced report were brushed aside as well as civil society involvement, by the way, once it became crunch decision time, and that is also something that we need to keep in mind. And I’ll end here.
>> ANA CRISTINA NEVES: Thank you very much, Bart. Since the time is very short, I think that we are moving immediately to the second speaker. That is Leonid Todorov, please.
>> LEONID TODOROV: Thank you. Unfortunately, my computer has just died, so I cannot use my remarks, but anyway. Well, first of all, conceptually, I would like to refer to the book Empire, which you might be aware of. The idea which the author has put forward in that book is the Internet and the modern society is under the phase which can be described as the existence of governance without government, of which Internet probably is one of the examples to some extent.
Well, I would focus on Russia’s experiences because it should be understood very well – because Russia is a kind of unique case because we didn’t have any concept of Internet governance at all simply because there was no multistakeholder approach to Internet so far, and we’re just building this.
Well, the reasons are multiple, but first of all, let me mention that we still bear that Soviet legacy of an omnipotent state to which everybody has to bow, to some extent, and the government is aware of this challenge, and they try to somehow change their stance. And our president said recently that it’s impossible to impose any government dictatorship, if you will, on the Internet. One should live and exist and operate within the Internet area by the Internet laws.
So we are trying desperately to define these laws to ourselves, for ourselves, and we believe that multistakeholder is the bedrock concept for that.
But the problem is that, well, the civil society in Russia is still at its nascent state, so we don’t have any serious groups of interest within the society, nor they are able – I mean, those that exist – they are able to communicate and advocate their approach.
Secondly, businesses in Russia are notorious for being a bit egocentric, and they are concerned primarily of their survival and development, so they didn’t pay too much attention, they haven’t focused by far on critical issues of Internet governance.
Thirdly, academic circles, I regret to say, are not exposed to experiences, foreign experience, first of all, in the area of Internet governance because when I tried to find any publications on Internet governance in Russia, I hardly found three monographs with a handful of articles on the issue, which clearly demonstrated that their authors were not at all aware of the debate on Internet governance which have been running for a certain period of time overseas. So mostly they cited some European sources at best, and well, the list of references is quite scarce.
Thirdly, I would say that given that arrangement, given that pattern, we haven’t got enough bottom-up initiatives. Russia’s specificity – I mean, the history of Russia shows that whatever it forms have ever been launched in Russia, that was up-bottom rather than bottom-up initiative. So in this respect, we should somehow reverse these trends, but we can do so just by consolidating all these different groups, all these multi-stakeholders – I’m sorry – these multiple stakeholders.
Now, we believe that it’s high time we started that process of building the multistakeholder community in the country to mobilize consensus on critical issues. So far we understand that we can cooperate and we can work in tandem with the government, but we are trying to attract or to get everybody interested in critical issues which so far still are an uncharted territory for potential stakeholders in the country.
And overall I must say that the background, perhaps, is not that beneficial for Russia to start this process now because we understand that the current processes worldwide – I mean, the pendulum swings back to more government interventions, more government interference in different areas, mostly economic areas, and that’s – that’s sort of a biased signal to the governments worldwide that they should wrap more power, that they know better how to operate in different areas, and Internet is no exception in this regard.
So we hope that by running some awareness campaigns, by advising and counseling the government, we will be able to convince them that multistakeholderism is the only concept which should help the government as well as other participants to cooperate in the most efficient way to reach that level of consensus which would allow a proper Internet governance practices in the country. Thank you.
>> ANA CRISTINA NEVES: Thank you very much, Leonid. Thank you for this very interesting testimony about what is going on in Russia.
So Giacomo Mazzone zone, Internet sector.
>> GIACOMO MAZZONE: Unlucky for you, my computer is working, so I will not be able to keep in the timeline like my colleague. I said in my introduction about the multistakeholderism, we, as complex as these eight unions, we have the multistakeholderism within ourselves, and this, at the beginning, was a very difficult exercise to be loyal to – and at the same time to Wolfgang. I think now, after five years, this could be possible thanks to the five years that we have spent together debating about these topics.
Having said so, the multistakeholderism that we are strongly committed since the beginning, I think my contribution could be more important if this will be focused on the European – the European – in the sense for the European Broadcasting Union I’m talking. We have a strong European vision that we are obliged to fulfill every day through our mission. This has different aspects, different faces. That is important to remember here. And the same faces, the same mission. I think we have to bring in the Internet world.
We have the first mission of cultural diversity for Europe. It’s fundamental. As you know, public broadcasting service and, in general, national broadcasters are the first producer of local contents we have multilingualism in diversified nation, so we stick to the languages of the countries we try to address. And we have a universal service mandate, just to give you an idea, within our statutes, we have an obligation to cover 99% of the territory and – 98% of the territory and 99% of the population at least to be members of the union. This means that we have – so the broadcasters are committed to create the condition for democratic participation and social creation, not to be forget the respect of the minorities, including the new minorities that we have thanks to the migration in our country.
So this dual system, which – that is one of the – of the European model in the world is something we want to preserve, and we want to bring as intact possible in the environment of the Internet. This is our mission. This is why we are sitting at this table and we are participating.
Last but not least is the mission of the public service and broadcasters all over Europe is the two work towers innovation. As you know, in many countries, as part of the mission that we have got from our governmental, from departments, et cetera, et cetera, there is also the support to the – to the media literacy, the support to innovation, the support to the technology, literacy, and also to fight the digital divide. I think this is a full set of good reasons to be participating in this process, and we hope that through our action we will be able to fulfill all these obligations, even in the new world that the Internet described in front of us. Thank you.
>> ANA CRISTINA NEVES: Thank you very much, Giacomo. So now we’ll have two interventions from the civil society, and we will start with Frederic Donck, please.
>> FREDERIC DONCK: Thank you, Ana Cristina, and contrary to my colleagues, I printed my intervention so I don’t rely on my computer.
So let me take this debate through what I believe we have knowledge on, which is the Internet. The genius of the Internet lies in its decentralized architecture, which maximizes the power of individual users to choose hardware, software, and services that best meet their needs. It is what allows the Internet to continue to be the platform for innovation and creativity.
Of equal significance, the structures of the Internet governance mechanism in many ways mirror the technical architecture. Openness, transparency, inclusiveness, distributed responsibility, and of course, multi-stakeholders approach are intrinsic, inseparable hallmarks of Internet development. We call this the Internet model.
So at the Internet society, we talk a lot of the Internet model, so let me describe what it is concretely. First, the Internet is a network of tens of thousands of networks drawing over zillions from distributed responsibilities.
Second, it works because of the collaborative engagement of many organizations. People in organizations from many backgrounds and with many different expertise are involved, researchers, business people, civil society, academics, and government officials. This is key to the Internet’s success.
Third, the development of the Internet is based on open standards which are open and broadly and truly distributed. Participation is based on knowledge, need, and interest greater than formal membership. There are no membership fees, and this in itself is important.
The Internet community has always worked to reduce barriers and encourage broad participation.
And finally, the Internet model is also based on key principles such as the end-to-end principle, which features the creation of global deployment of innovative, successful, and surprising application, and those who create applications don’t need permission to deploy them on the Internet.
So why do I say this? Why do I describe the Internet model? Because while addressing public policy and decision-making processes and even for critical decisions, we are convinced that the Internet model is the appropriate model of governance.
The Internet society values the opportunity created by those forum at international, national, and regional levels which favor a multi-stakeholders approach, and we maintain that these outcomes would not have been possible in any of the traditional intergovernmental models we are aware of.
For example, we recognize that international IGF or this European platform, EuroDIG, are unique forums where ideas can be explored and tested by stakeholders on an equal footing without the constraints of intergovernmental procedures. From that said, government and intergovernment associations should also value the multi-stakeholders approach as an incredible opportunity. For example nothing – and I mean it, nothing – in the forum either binds governments to implementation or sovereign authority. Nothing prevents them from taking the actions they believe are in the interest of their citizens. They are here just to learn.
Finally, as to whether there is a European vision, let me just say that in the end, the value of forums like EuroDIG is established by its participants, those who come away from this meeting or participate remotely and say yes, I can use this back home. That is what makes such a forum worthwhile, the ability of stakeholders to freely ensure coherence between local and international levels. They can – while localizing the governance-related issues, identifying regional and local challenges, and exploring local solution.
There are many initiatives. We’ve seen, heard about all those initiatives at local level in Europe, and definitely we believe that it’s worth to spread this format all around Europe. Thank you.
>> ANA CRISTINA NEVES: Thank you very much. So we move to David Souter, that will say something about a draft code of practice on information, participation, and transparency. Is that right?
>> DAVID SOUTER: Thank you. I’m attempted to start by entering into a debate around the multistakeholderism, but I do have a specific agreement here, which is to address a specific proposition from the Council of Europe and the association pour progressive communications, so I’ll do that. There is, perhaps, one issue worth thinking about which does have bearing on what I’m about to say, which is what exactly we’re meaning here by multistakeholder. Are we meaning something in which people are represented by their stakeholder identity, or are we meaning something in which their stakeholder identity is required? And it seems to me that actually, quite a lot of the early Internet culture and the concept of openness around the Internet was built around the latter. The stakeholder – I tend to use the word open governance rather than multistakeholder governance for that.
So I just go on from that. I think the specific project here is something the Council of Europe and its partners, ENECE and – so – have been working on for the last two years, and I have been acting as an advisor on it. It’s concerned with information, participation, and transparency and Internet governance and the way in which Internet governance entities take decisions.
The reason why this is of importance and of concern is that open governance is only really part of the route towards a framework of open governance is any part of the route towards open governance practice. If governance is going to be open and inclusive to diverse – people from diverse stakeholder communities, from the Internet professionals on the one hand to end users on the other, then the Internet governance entities need to provide firstly an opportunity for people from those backgrounds to participate, but also secondly, the resources in terms of information and knowledge and understanding, which enables them to participate meaningfully.
So this project was initiated at the IGF in 2008. Based on a report and study of existing practice and leading Internet governance entities and dialoguing with those agencies, ISOC, WC3, constituent registries, the thinking behind it, why this is specifically important now, would be, I think, as follows.
Firstly, that it is, indeed, the case that the opportunity to engage in Internet governance entities is pretty open, and engagement is welcomed across that range of organizations. Certainly, that’s true at the global and regional level, perhaps less so at a national level. But even in the global or regional space, it doesn’t mean to say that all of those who are affected by decisions or who could contribute significantly to them are empowered by those processes or engaged within them.
Many of the issues are complex. Entry into participation can be difficult. The Internet is continuing to develop very rapidly. The number and types of people who wish to be and can be engaged is constantly growing. So are the complexity and number of issues and the complexity and number of perspectives on those issues.
And as the Internet becomes more important, it’s more important to engage – for it to engage in governance with wider communities that are considered with other public policy domains that are affected by it. In other words, Internet governance becomes less something that it can be just for Internet insiders but has to engage with those whose primary concerns are in other policy areas.
So a key question that needs to be asked in fora, Internet governance fora including this, is who’s missing? And if they were present, would our understanding of the issues that we’re discussing be different from what it is in their absence?
And there are some quite surprising omissions, I think, from Internet governance debates, notably the private-sector businesses which are consumers of the Internet rather than suppliers of it. Or live-scale NGOs which are involved in n most other public policy domains.
So this protective project has developed from that report and dialogue, and by looking at experience in other domains, notably in environmental policy, I’ve developed a draft code of practice on information, participation, and transparency which was presented at the IGF in Sharm El Sheikh and quite widely welcomed there. It sets principles and guidelines in four main areas; an overall approach; information provision, sharing, and promotion of understanding; in participation in decision-making processes; and in monitoring the effectiveness of inclusiveness and transparency.
The aim of the code is that Internet governance entities should use it to review their own experience, to compare that experience with other Internet governance bodies, and to provide a framework for developing practice as the Internet grows and the needs of Internet governance as exercised by those entities changes.
And between now and the Vilnius IGF, there will be a process of further dialogue with the major governance bodies conducted by the three partners in order to develop the code and look at how its application would affect the way in which those organizations work. As I say, this is a cooperative Sven viewer between the sponsors of the code and Internet governance entities.
So that’s really what I have to say about that. It’s rather precise and pragmatic. I have copies of the code with me if anybody wants to see it. Otherwise, it’s www.apc.org, and you’ll easily find it under publications.
>> ANA CRISTINA NEVES: Thank you very much. I think that the draft code will be published on the EuroDIG page as well.
So you raised a very good point. Who is missing? So I hope that someone from the audience will say something about that.
So we are moving now for the governmental sector with Luis Magalhaes.
>> LUIS MAGALHAES: Let me start by announcing a particular bias on discussing these sort of issues. I believe, without too much rational evidence, but let’s see, kind of a result of a deep feeling about these issues, that multistakeholderism in public policy decisions is in the world to stay and, actually, to spread to many other sectors besides the Internet. And they are actually quite different from the Internet.
And the reason why I think this is natural to happen and that somehow we are witnessing in this area something that will spread to other sectors is because I think that multistakeholder participation in policy decisions, as main drivers, democracy, and, in particular, the part of democracy that is related to government accountability to citizens and also to get to know what citizens wish their governments to do, on complexity of certain public interest issues in the wide world we live nowadays, and on the open network society.
And the open network society itself adds several important enablers, like a technology enabler, the Internet itself, a social enabler, higher levels of education, of people who become reflexive, able communicators and critical thinkers and all are able to do correct speech and correct debates and approach the ideal of that sort of interaction; and the political enabler, which is democracy.
So if we think about this from this perspective, there is nothing special about the Internet. For it to be the only setting for this approach to be used except that since the Internet itself was an important enabler for the open network environment, it’s only natural that the idea begins to be explored and understood in that setting.
Now, having stated this kind of perspective, which I think is important to compensate for my bias, I think that we have to be clear that there are certain things that multistakeholder approach can deliver for the public decision process and others that it cannot. And for the better, we should be clear about these two things.
So it’s obviously – it’s obvious that they can deliver the opportunity of providing for the appearance and the statement, the explicit statement of a full diversity of points of view. It’s very good for that purpose. It’s also very good to explore the clarification and the refining of the ideas because if the dialogue with different participants that it involves.
It’s also nice to expand public awareness about complex public policy problems to understand the different perspectives, different points of view. Also, to allow grounds for commitment of individuals, organizations, and groups because they have their proper setting to get deeply involved.
And also, they somehow can either, when it is possible, reach a situation of achieving consensus because when people understand better the problems in debate they can do that, or when that is not possible, to reduce the options in a sense, to have the alternatives reduced in terms of complexity.
And of course, it provides robustness to the full process because as it is a network open setting, in a sense, it provides the robustness that we are very much aware that is provided also by the Internet and other things where the network is what provides consistency.
Now, what it cannot assure – well, there are quite a number of things it cannot assure, and very important for decision making in democratic societies, it cannot assure by itself representative. It cannot assure legitimacy by the proper way in which the multi-stakeholders appear on the open debates. It cannot assure universality of points of view. Some things may be missed in the discussions. It can be assure resolving between the ultimatives that were filter through the multistakeholder process. And it cannot assure immunity to be captured by special interests. So the possibility of manipulation and capture by special groups participating in big quantities exists in these situations. So what I’m going to conclude is that in a sense, it is an important ingredient in public decision making in today’s world, but it has to act in dialogue with traditional representative schemes in democracy, and government, parliaments, courts, et cetera, and somehow it has to work on that connection in two directions.
Now, if you think about the particular case of Internet governance, so IGF, its dialogue with regional, national IGFs, and how this would provide robustness to the multistakeholder process, which very much is with us, but also in this process, within active nations, we have two other – well, we have first the formal United Nations decision-making process, so the dialogue between these two movements has to operate in the sense that the ideas that pop up from multistakeholder participation filter in and can be considered at that level.
But also, in what regards the involvement of MAAG, the Multistakeholder Advisory Group, which, in a sense, it is multistakeholder itself, but it is not open. There is a limited number of participants, and in a sense, it’s more organized, and somehow it’s not as liable to capture as open systems, and when this process evolves, the roles of these entities also have to change, and I believe that somehow adjustments are needed on the way each one of these components interact and play among themselves.
So this is basically the view I’d like to share with you. Thank you.
>> ANA CRISTINA NEVES: Thank you. And Markus Kummer, please.
>> MARKUS KUMMER: Thank you. Coming after Luis makes it easy because I agree with everything he said. He showed very clearly also the limitations, I think, of the multistakeholder process and, in particular, also the danger of capture.
Also Bart, right at the beginning, made some interesting remarks to which I would subscribe fully. In particular, the remark that it can only work if the stakes are not too high. And precisely that out of that, if expectations are too high, then frustration can arise.
This is – was a message I tried to get across right at the beginning when we started. I did not succeed to get it across to everybody because some people would still like the IGF to produce more than it actually does, at least to provide a platform for dialogue, and that’s where frustration then ends up if it does not produce results as they put it.
I often make the distinction between decision shaping to which the IGF can contribute and the decision making, which remains prerogative of other instances. I mean, not only governments, but also the institutions that run the Internet. It cannot be substituted by the IGF.
Looking back, clearly, the notion of multistakeholder cooperation has evolved. At the begin, there were many very high expectations by especially civil society members who sort of saw the dawn of a new era, that they would be let in in negotiating as equals with government. Out of that came the frustration that when they were kicked out of the room and governments wanted to be by themselves. But in between the two phases, we have the process which contributed to a big change, I think, in how it operated.
I would disagree with Bart when he said that proposals from the Board were not accepted. Yes, in the end they were not consensus proposals, and it was clear from the beginning when we drafted the report that they would not be accepted, but the rest of the report more or less found its way into the Tunis agenda. The Internet governance as going beyond naming and addressing and us being more than just the domain of governments. This notion of multistakeholder cooperation came into the Tunis agenda. And last but not least, the proposal to have an IGF was contained in the WCAG report.
And many substantive elements in the ties were taken straight away from the WCAG report because the first phase of WSIS, their governments proved unable to go into the complexities of the technical complexities of the Internet; whereas, through this learning process and through this multistakeholder process – which was not just a report. We had broad consultations in between where everybody could participate.
We also introduced in the UN system the live transcriptions to make it as transparent as possible. And that certainly led to a learning process, and if you compare the two documents, the Geneva documents and the Tunis documents, you do see there is much more substance in Tunis.
So the multistakeholder process has actually influenced government decision making, but yes, at the end, it was the governments who adopted the text.
The IGF is, in a sense, a child of WSIS, but it is also a child of the Internet institutions such as ISOC or WC3 or ICANN in terms of its operating modis. I mean, WSIS, while it introduced the notion of different stakeholders, remained a very intergovernmental process with clear rules of procedure; whereas, we learned from the Internet institutions their way of doing things with much online cooperation.
And also, maybe in distinction to the Internet community, I mean, ISOC, home of IATF, of course, ETF is home of engineering, but it has engineers, government, but I think not much in terms of civil society. ICANN has all the stakeholders, but they do not meet together. They all meet separately. And in the IGF, we put them all together in one pot, and I think this is the strength of the IGF and the robustness of the IGF, that there is actually a dialogue, a direct dialogue between private sector and civil society, governments, technical community.
And I heard very positive remarks from industry representatives who actually find it is very important to engage with civil society as they could never do that before. Business community does not necessarily have the habit of consulting civil society before they launch a product. But in the IGF, they became more aware of certain sensitivities, especially with regard to privacy, for instance, and they found it useful.
The spread of the IGF to national IGFs, as we heard here already in the EuroDIG, but also the other regions, we have now similar initiatives in Latin America, in the Caribbean, in East Africa, West Africa. First one will be in the Asia-Pacific region this year in June – is in itself, I think, a significant development.
I participated in some of them, and I was particularly impressed in east Africa, where the authorities would not have a tradition of consulting outside the spheres of government, but there in the field of the Internet, they have fully embraced the multistakeholder principle and the multistakeholder concept. I talked with the permanent secretary in the Kenyan Ministry that is the highest civil servant. He participates actively in list discussions with the community, and he told me it can be painful, but it helps us making better decision, and I think I would like to conclude with that. It shows how the model of EuroDIG, IGF, multistakeholder corporation can actually lead to participatory democracy, and there I would also conclude that it should not be limited to the field of the Internet but should also be used in other sectors.
>> ANA CRISTINA NEVES: Thank you very much. Well, I think that all these interventions were so rich that it’s a pity that we don’t have time to explore and to reflect just a little bit on them.
We don’t have now so much time for the discussion, but of course, we’ll have some discussion. But allow me only to underline some of the key expressions that I heard here today, like participatory democracy, different interests that clash, the frustration versus expectation because the expectations might be too high, so the stakes cannot be too high. The distinction between decision shaping from decision making. The danger of capture. Who is missing? Governmental accountability, Internet as a neighbor to democracy. So I think that all these expressions are quite strong, and of course, all these multi-stakeholders, these different stakeholders, they have different interests, and we are not trying to reach a consensus, but we are trying to reach a way in which we can understand ourselves.
So I would like now to open the debate. It must be, unfortunately, a very short debate. But I would like to ask if there is any questions from remote participation. I saw that there was discussion between some participation. It was interesting because they are more oriented for government process, government processes and et cetera. So I ask the floor for the audience if anybody would like to raise any question or would like to kick off this debate. Thomas, please, the mic please. Thomas, please introduce yourself.
>> THOMAS SCHNEIDER: The sound is coming. Thank you. Thomas Schneider from the Swiss Federal Office of Communications. I think the concept of participatory democracy or participation is key, and IGF, of course, helps to enhance this notion of participation, but what Luis said, it’s very true, and many people bring that up to be against participatory democracy. Of course there’s a risk for manipulation, for biassing people’s opinions, so on. But with parliamentary democracies or other representative democracies, you also have risks of you can buy parliamentarians. This is easier than buying the whole public, for instance.
But the point I want to make is participation only works if you have two things. A, if those who participate in the decision making, that can be the whole public sphere, to some extent, are accountable also for the consequences of this design. This is point one. And the second point is what you need in order to avoid manipulation or biassing is a public sphere of discussion that prepares the decision. Everybody who participates in a decision making, in a debate, should have the possibility to participate in a space of discussion which is as free and non-manipulated as possible, so the media has a big role.
Coming from a country where we have some mechanisms for direct democracy where we can vote in almost everything, the only way to reduce the risk of getting wrong or bad results from public votes is to promote the public discussion that everybody is speaking to everybody to the extent possible in order that there is a consensus that comes up with reasonable solutions. But I think it’s worth it, and once you have – are used to this system, you are not ready to give it up anymore. Thank you.
>> ANA CRISTINA NEVES: The gentleman over there.
>> Thank you. I would like to add one more thing to our discussion. I believe we underestimate the period which is under way, and the – I would say the threshold we have come to in political decision making. And I believe – I see a direct – and Internet. Let us not forget that a new generation of politicians come into being, and I mean not only Russia and not only the United States, where we have high-position politicians which are Internet friendly.
Generally speaking, you should keep in mind that the old generation of politicians lived in, as a matter of fact, information vacuum. If some of you worked with the high echelons of government decision making, you can imagine in what tower a political leader was being fed up with being fed by very specific type of information and having no direct access to basic facts and basic information. And that was for centuries. Believe me, I know from not only Russian, but earlier Soviet experience, that political leaders were provided with filtered information, and they had no way of getting to genuine, basic facts.
Today the situation is rapidly changing. For instance, the president starts his day with clicking the computer, and if some Western newspapers are unfriendly to him and his aides would avoid giving him unpleasant facts or unwelcome information. But he personally can very easily build up the right impressions of Russian politics, of himself as a political leader, so on and so forth.
So what the point I want to make, that an important asset, today we have come to a very important historical threshold. When political leaders – I mean the new generation of future political leaders – can make political decisions relying upon general facts and not living in political vacuum. And we shouldn’t underestimate it because that’s the great strength of Internet. That’s the great strength of networking, social networking as well, blogging. For instance, you know, the Russian president is very active in blogging. So that should be kept in mind when discussing the problem of decision making today. The situation drastically has changed or is changing, and that’s – I would say – a step to another plenary session about the Internet in 2020. Thank you.
>> ANA CRISTINA NEVES: Well, we don’t have so much time now. I think it’s really time to wrap up, but still the last question. Jorge.
>> So put your headphones on. My question would be in the title for the session, the question at the end was is there a European vision of the multistakeholder model, and those of us who have spent some time already on these issues are very much aware of all the problems arising from the interface between what Markus Kummer was calling decision shaping and decision making, which is rather spread throughout diverse public and private institutions.
At the European level, probably the problem is different. Difficulties are also different. Perhaps they’re lesser because we have a different institutional system where perhaps the interface between this type of institution, such as EuroDIG at the regional level and the Internet governance forums at the national level, could be different, and there could be a greater synchronicity, I should say, between those issues which are in the political agenda, both as far as the policies that are subsequently adopted, both at the public and the company private level, and at the global level, where, obviously, difficulties are greater when it comes to achieving this interface.
So my question to the speakers would be do they have a European vision on how that interface should take place, or do you think that the interface we now have is adequate?
>> ANA CRISTINA NEVES: And I really apologize to the other panelists. I would like to put that question to Markus Kummer, whether there is a European vision or not, because we don’t have more time for this discussion, but I think that I would like to hear Markus Kummer on this point. Thank you.
>> MARKUS KUMMER: I’m not sure whether I’m the right person to answer this question. Colleagues from the Council of Europe might be better. But what I sense here, there is a strong vision on the – for an Internet which is open, which is based on rules, which is enshrined in democratic principles and promotes human rights as a European vision.
How the interface between the national and the regional and the global should work, I think we are only at the beginning of this kind of discussion, and we will provide space in Vilnius where we can look at that more in detail. There is a strong need, I think, a felt need by all of the various national and regional IGFs to have this kind of discussion how they can interact with each other and how they can feed into the global IGF.
>> ANA CRISTINA NEVES: Thank you very much. So I think now it’s time to ask to the other participants to give us a short – to ask Georgios Kipouros to give us a short report of what happened here.
>> GEORGIOS KIPOUROS: I have the hard work of summarizing about one and a half hours of presentations from this interactive age and gender balanced panel. I’ll try to do my best. I hope that next year I am going to have more than five minutes to work on my notes. So don’t expect much in terms of structure and clearance.
I’ll start with Bart Cammaerts look at multistakeholderism, which is a confrontation between different models of democracy. It’s the representative democratic model versus the participatory democracy model, which was developed in the ’70s as a way to counter the crisis of representative democracy and address the disconnection between the governors and the governed.
But there is also the question of what is participation because there are different kinds of participation defined from full to partial to fake to manipulative participation, and that was one of the comments mentioned by all of the speakers.
Power is also a crucial concept in the debate, as is the concept of deliberation. So is there really a consensual way of decision making? And that really also depends on the nature of politics itself because politics are really conflictual rather than consensual.
Then there’s also the question of who participates, who are the stakeholders. This is one of the points that many of the panelists brought. Who is a civil society? How can we include all of the people in the civil society as well?
And then you have cases like Internet governance when there is, in fact, a need for expertise. And there’s also the issue of international relations. Dr. Cammaerts pointed out the constructivist approach.
Another issue also mentioned at the beginning is there is the question of how high are the expectations and how can this result in frustration if they are not materialized and actual implementation of multistakeholderism?
Internet governance is, in many ways, a best practice of multistakeholderism, especially, as many of you mentioned, that multistakeholderism does not always work if the stakes are too high. Hopefully we wouldn’t – I don’t believe that we could see such a panel or such an activity – we had a meeting of foreign affairs ministers of the European Union, for example.
We also had from Mr. Todorov from Russia, a comment I kept is that the modern society can be described as the existence of governance without a government. The civil society in Russia is still at the – state. Let’s hope government is promoting further development of civil society, helping it. Business and academics are, as far as I understood, not very much concerned, or they haven’t started yet taking it up. The background is also challenging for Russia, but you also noted something, that international processes are shrinking back to more governmental intervention rather than a multistakeholder events. – that might be also the case as far as Internet governance is concerned or that’s one of the problems.
So we need – you notice that we need to convince the government that multistakeholderism is there to help the government to reach a level.consensus which would allow proper Internet governance practices in the country.
Someone mentioned from the public that there are some president very active in the blog sphere, so he is getting feedback. an important point to consider is how much feedback is he taking into account. We also had a brief presentation of EBU. Its structure itself reveals a highly multistakeholder approach that it has due to the different working areas of its members. EBU strongly committed to multistakeholderism. EBU has European vision. It has the vision that we all know. They do support media literacy, they do also support the finding of the digital define.
Moving on to the civil society, Mr. Donck from the Internet society, who underlined that the genius of the Internet lies, in fact, in its decentralized architecture, and the structure of the Internet governance mechanism actually reflects its technical architecture. So the Internet community and the civil society have always worked together to encourage broad participation.
In the end, forums like EuroDIG is established by its participants, so you do believe it is worthwhile to have events like this because stakeholders – the ability of the stakeholders to fully ensure the coherence between local and international models of Internet governance.
Addressed the meaning, the definition of multistakeholderism. A lot of the points that Mr. Cammaerts took up on his presentation were included. Who is involved is a very complex issue. You underlined who is missing. An example is private sector who is missing from governance issues. You also presented a draft code that sets principles in four main areas. Information on the code can be found on the EuroDIG page.
I’m going o to move on to the government approach by Mr. Magalhaes, who recognizes multistakeholder as an important policy decision is here to stay and in other areas besides the Internet, though we can take Internet governance as a good practice. Then again you raised the question if this can be – although you presented a positive aspects of multistakeholderism, you underlined the limitations in the attempt in that multistakeholderism alone cannot assure universality of the points of views, and it is also, very importantly, not immune to be captured by special interests. There is still the danger of manipulation that is out there, even in IGF processes.
Finally, from the IGF Secretariat, there was – well, you stressed that probably multistakeholderism works in this case only because the stakes are not too high, and you replied to the criticism that the IGF is not producing enough results in that its own nature is just – is to promote the dialogue. It’s to facilitate the dialogue between the different stakeholders.
The government and the institutions cannot be stopped by the IGF, you underlined, but more importantly, the notion of multistakeholderism cooperation has come into the Internet governance agenda globally, especially following the success of the international Internet Governance Forum and the European equivalent. You also underlined that it’s a very good practice for African nations that have started to – have started the multistakeholder approach beginning with the Internet, even though they’re used to mostly working with government agents in their decision making.
So that’s it. Hopefully next time we’ll have more time for questions next year and more time for me to present the report. Thank you.
>> ANA CRISTINA NEVES: Thank you, Georgios, because I think your report was very comprehensive. So the session is closed, but let me just thank, at a high – the high-rank panelist that we have here today. Thank you very much.
>> Okay. Hello. As you know, we’re running behind time. There is a coffee break, but I want to make a proposal to you to save time and to make sure that we finish on time, then we can all leave on time, that we have a rolling coffee break. There’s coffee outside, so for those who want coffee, they can go outside, but please come back straight away if you can or go outside, but we’d like to bring the last plenary session and to start it straight away, so coffee’s outside. Please go and get it, but please come back if you can – if you can, straight away. Thank you.