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Author Topic: Taking Stock  (Read 34353 times)
admin
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« on: November 09, 2006, 10:45:29 AM »

Please send us your comments on the IGF process.
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Jeremy Malcolm
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Compiling the IGF's report card


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« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2006, 12:43:25 PM »

This response has also been submitted at http://info.intgovforum.org/Q2006v2.php:

WHAT WORKED WELL?

1. The translation service was excellent and truly a boon to the meeting.

2. Almost all substantive (but not procedural) issues were well covered.

3. The IGF Community Site at igf2006.info was very well received.

WHAT WORKED LESS WELL?

1. The meeting was structured as a conference, without the decision-making capacity needed for it to fulfil its express mandate to, inter alia, "Identify emerging issues, ... and, where appropriate, make recommendations".

2. The activities of the Secretariat and Advisory Committee were greatly lacking in transparency, with important decisions being made without notice to stakeholders, let alone affording them the opportunity to participate in those decisions.

3. Lacking formal working groups, the IGF relies on "dynamic coalitions" to carry forward the task of generating practical outcomes, yet has no mechanism by which to receive the output of those coalitions, no guarantee that they were produced in an open and collaborative process, and no voice with which to ratify them.

SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT IN VIEW OF THE SECOND IGF MEETING?

My three principal suggestions concern the structure of the IGF and will be addressed under the next heading, but specifically relating to the format of the meeting in Rio I request:

* Fewer panelists in the main sessions.

* Consolidation of similar-themed workshops.

* Workshops and main sessions not to be held concurrently.

* A plenary session for discussion of procedural and organisational issues.

* Plenary sessions for discussion of the output of dynamic coalitions.

* Seat plenary sessions in table groups with time for small group discussion.

* More reliable Internet access.

* More affordable food.

* No proprietary formats for documents and Webcasts.

* The official, host country and community Web sites be combined.

* Publicity be given to the [email protected] mailing list.

ANY OTHER COMMENTS OR SUGGESTIONS?

My three main suggestions are as follows:

1. The development of criteria by which dynamic coalitions can be recognised by (or affiliated to) the IGF.  Recognition would imply being able to host workshops in the future, to be listed on the IGF's Web site, and to put their output to a plenary session.  The criteria that such coalitions would be required to satisfy should include membership that is free and open to any interested member of any of the four stakeholder groups, open publication of its proceedings, and some form of procedurally democratic internal governance.  The criteria developed should eventually be ratified by a plenary session of the IGF, as per the next point.

2. In order for the IGF to be in a position to fulfil its mandate, it will be necessary for procedures to be developed within which for the output of dynamic coalitions recognised by the IGF to be received by the IGF in plenary session with a view to the development of consensus around them.  It is for this reason that I suggested in response to the preceding question about the next meeting, the use of table groups, and that plenary sessions be scheduled for discussion of the output of dynamic coalitions, as first steps towards the formation of a deliberative capacity for the IGF that would allow it to fulfil its mandate.

3. There has been no word of whether the Advisory Group appointed for the first meeting is to remain in place.  Any future appointment process should be conducted by a multi-stakeholder nominations committee making its recommendation to the Secretary-General.  The principles by which the nominations committee should recommend appointments would be the same as those used by the Secretary-General himself; for example geographical and gender diversity, save that these criteria would be made public as too would the list of nominees for appointment.  As a secondary issue, the operations of the Advisory Group should be made more transparent which includes (at a minimum) that it should make regular reports of its activities, or (preferably) that its mailing list archive should be made public.

DID THE SYNTHESIS PAPER ... MEET A REAL NEED?  SHOULD A SIMILAR PAPER BE PREPARED PRIOR TO THE NEXT MEETING?

It was well-prepared and unbiased, although sketchy in some areas - perhaps unavoidably.  However no reference was made to it, as far as I am aware,  by anyone during the meeting.  For all the difference it made, it could have been that nobody even read it, let alone read the individual contributions upon which it was based.

I think that it is still worthwhile to prepare something of that sort to assist those who do not have time to read all contributions in depth.  However, it should be explicitly used by session moderators as a starting point for discussion, and contributors to the documents referred to in the synthesis paper should be given preference in selection for panel membership.  Otherwise, there is no point to written contributions being made.
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Michael Leibrandt
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« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2007, 02:31:46 PM »

Please send us your comments on the IGF process.

Disclaimer:
This is a personal statement and must therefore not be seen as a contribution from any public or private institution.


WHAT WORKED WELL?

1.
The location for the inaugural meeting of the IGF was an excellent choise: a) city easily accessible by plane; b) sufficient meeting rooms for workshops etc. and c) – even more important – enough space for informal talks between all stakeholders.

2.
The program of the meeting attracted almost all of those who do play a significant role in the global discussion on Internet Governance. This is mainly due to the impressive variety of issues covered during the meeting. The thematic openness is the key asset of the IGF concept and should therefore not be traded in for a more focused (=limited) approach.


WHAT WORKED LESS WELL?

Due to technical constraints, Internet connectivity was quite limited during the Athens meeting.


SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT IN VIEW OF THE SECOND IGF MEETING?

1.
The number of panelists should generally be limited to three, preferably one each from civil society, business and government. Larger panels do not necessarily contribute to a significantly wider spectrum of views, but limit the time available for interaction with the audience.

2.
Recalling the relative silent participation of government representatives, the meeting in Athens clearly showed that the basic idea of establishing a space for a full-scale multistakeholder dialogue has been overly ambitious from the beginning. Unlike civil society representatives and most of the business people, government representatives can not contribute to the discussions in a personal capacity. This is especially relevant in those many cases where the participation of national governments takes place in the framework of a regionally coordinated approach. The IGF can therefore more adequately be characterized as a global hearing with governments – more or less – being in a listening mode. This situation should be reflected in the self-portrait of the IGF, e. g. regarding to what actually can be expected from participating government representatives.

3.
Bridging the Digital Divide and making sure that all people can benefit from ICT is one of the core challenges for international ICT policy on the way to the global Information Society. All regional and international fora that can make a difference in that field have to play a role. But at the same time this doesn’t mean that every existing initiative is the appropriate place to tackle the issue. Following the safe path of political correctness and putting the development sticker on  every ICT initiative actually bares the risk of watering down the development tasks ahead of us. A more thorough (and honest) discussion about the specific ways the IGF can and should play regarding the multitude of development goals is needed on the road to Rio.


DID THE SYNTHESIS PAPER ... MEET A REAL NEED?  SHOULD A SIMILAR PAPER BE PREPARED PRIOR TO THE NEXT MEETING?

Though it’s always a difficult task to clearly identify the intended core messages coming with individual contributions to the Internet Governance discussion, the Secretariats overview paper worked pretty well as a quick reference and “teaser”. A similar paper should therefore be prepared prior to the Rio event.
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muguet
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« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2007, 04:56:24 AM »

Dr. Francis MUGUET
chair WSIS-SI WG
co-chair WSIS-PCT WG
member WSIS-Finance WG, WSIS-Edu.
in his personnal capacity

Taking stock and the way forward

All stakeholders are invited to send us their comments and views on the Athens meeting and make suggestions with regard to the preparation of the meeting in Rio de Janeiro. You may wish to address topics such as the preparatory process, the logistics of the meeting as well as its format and content. In order to facilitate the assessment of the feed-back we suggest that you fill in the Web based for and put your comments in the following broad categories.

What worked well?

The symbol of the location of the first IGF  in Athens, cradle of the democracy.

The first round of talks after the opening ceremony was unusually frank.

The atmosphere created the possibility of informal exchange of informations.
The Greek government provided gorgeous buffets, as well as diners.

What worked less well?

Political issues :

The absence of H.E George Papadatos, WSIS Rapporteur, who proposed the idea of the first IGF in Athens, and who was very well acquainted with Civil Society, broke the continuity of the WSIS process, as far as Civil Society was concerned, It prevented the Greek government to play a major political role in the IGF organization.. Greece plays only the role of an event organizer.   

The current IGF process and the IGF event in Athens were not enough held and organize with a faithful spirit to the WSIS texts that were never strongly recalled  to the participants. The organization of the IGF meeting was not articulated along the very precise points of the IGF mandate.
 In this sense, it can be felt that the current IGF process is betraying its mandate determined by the WSIS.

In particular it must be recalled that according to the WSIS texts :
78.../.. The UN Secretary-General should also:
2. establish an effective and cost-efficient bureau to support the IGF, ensuring multi-stakeholder participation.

A bureau has not been yet established so far, only a secretariat, which is diplomatically completely different. It is not up to the existing secretariat to decide whether a bureau should be established and how it should be done. It is up to the United Nation members to press the new UN Secretary General to fulfill this WSIS decision, as expeditiously as possible.

A very important point of the mandate of the IGF has been deliberately brought off the spotlight.
72.We ask the UN Secretary-General, in an open and inclusive process, to convene, by the second quarter of 2006, a meeting of the new forum for multi-stakeholder policy dialogue called the Internet Governance Forum (IGF). The mandate of the Forum is to:
g)Identify emerging issues, bring them to the attention of the relevant bodies and the general public, and, where appropriate, make recommendations.

No serious efforts were made to identify emerging issues during the IGF,
 and the name of last session was a misnomer.  The last IGF session was a most welcome effort to involve young people, but it was not a session targeted at identifying emerging issues as mentioned in the IGF mandate.  For the record, so that it could be taken officially into account by the MAG,  I intervened in this last session and mentionned those issues. It was suprising that the speakers of the sessions were not aware of the WSIS texts and of the IGF mandate.

It was replied to me that currently the IGF cannot make recommendations, because no rules of procedures have been determined towards that goal.
It is rather clear that the very reason that a bureau is mentioned in the WSIS texts, and not an office, is that precisely it is the task of a bureau to determine and to deal with procedural issues.

The creation of Dynamical Coalitions seem to have caught the IGF secretariat off guard, and in fact, after Athens,  the IGF secretariat did not make any serious effort to organize, recognize, and empower the coalitions.

Network and web site issues.

The IGF web site was locked, allegedly because of a security bug that could not fixed during the entire conference, preventing many workshop organizers to update the IGF site with their workshop schedule.

The computer network, entirely based, even for the cybercafé, on wireless technology was overloaded and erratic.  No computers at the cybercafé were running Free Software operating system, not because of the incapacity of the technicians, but because it was not indicated in the specifications of their services, by the IGF organizers.

 The WIKI of the IGF where participants were invited, after the IGF meeting in Athens, to submit proposal of Dynamic Coalitions never worked properly, the proposals of Dynamic Coalition ( eg the Linguistic Diversity coalition ) on the WIKI were never taken into account, and finally the WIKI was closed recently without notice.

Logistical issues.

The location was ill-chosen, in a luxurious palace with exorbitant prices. I was informed that for  some diplomats of small european countries, that the price was above their regulations and have to ask special authorization.
It created bad feelings among some governmental delegates from developing countries, who were witnessing that some members of Civil Society could afford to stay at the Divani Appollon palace, when they could not.
For most part of the Civil Society, it was a real obstacle, creating yet another divide.

There was no easy public transportations from the Divani Appollon palace.

Suggestions for improvement in view of the second IGF meeting?
( see next post )
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muguet
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« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2007, 06:35:12 AM »

Suggestions for improvement in view of the second IGF meeting?

Political issues :
It is hoped that the host country would take a stronger political role as a facilitator between all stakeholders, and that the same well trained diplomatic team that participated to the WSIS process would oversee the organization of the next IGF, taking into account the WSIS best practices.

It is hoped that the next IGF meeting would be better articulated along the precise points of its mandate, and in particular that a specific session would deal with the identification of emerging issues, meanwhile that United Nations members would take the opportunity to make a formal request to the new secretary general to form Bureau for the IGF.
The Bureau should be multistakeholder with a broad and inclusive membership.
The current MAG, which is not mentioned in the WSIS texts, should not be considered as as the basis of the Bureau, because, at least, as far as Civil Society is concerned, Civil Society members of the MAG have not  been selected towards this purpose. 

Concerning the outputs of the overall IGF process, in particular, the IGF meetings and of the dynamical coalitions, it was proposed in Athens that those outputs be formatted along a very effective process familiar to all internet architects :: RFC ( Requests for Comments  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Request_for_Comments  ).
It would be indeed a fitting diplomatic innovation to adopt this format to deal with internet governance. 
This RFC process was also proposed independently by the representative of Indonesia, during the IGF in Athens.

Furthermore, it is suggested that willing governments involved in the next IGF meetings and any other willing  government,  alongside civil society and the business sector,  should implement a web platform to manage those RFCs, that would be called  RFC IS4D Information Society for Development ( name suggested by Eurolinc ).   

Since the themes of the IGF meeting in Athens  overlapped with many of the themes of the actions lines as coordinated by ECOSOC, and implemented by various organizations such ITU, UNESCO, UNDP, etc... it would be appropriate that the organizer of the next IGF meeting should  invite the representatives of ECOSOC, ITU, UNESCO, UNDP, etc.. to make report and held workshops at the next IGF meeting, and should organize a satellite Forum after the IGF meeting on topics of the Geneva plan of action and of the Tunis agenda.

Concerning enhanced cooperation, nothing prevent the United Nation members to suggest to the new UN Secretary-General, to use the IGF forum as a cost effective tool to convene all stakeholders and to catalyze the enhanced cooperation, that has not started yet, 

It is hoped that the local Civil Society would be better involved than it was the case in Athens.

Logistical issues.
The conference center should be a public conference center, and not within a Hotel.
It should be conveniently located nearby affordable hotels and easily reachable with public transportations.

To compensate with Athens, it is suggested that all computers in the Cybercafé be running GNU/Linux operating system in the next IGF meeting. 

Many workshops lacked translation in Athens, because of the cost. It is suggested that local volunteer students be called upon to help Civil Society workshops for translation purposes.

Since the travel costs to fly to Brazil,are going to constitute an obstacle for many usual WSIS Civil Society participants, as well as new participants. It is suggested that Brazil should provide some financial assistance, and should partner with the European Union that has promised to provide financial assistance through the channel of the WSIS Civil Society Bureau.

Did the synthesis paper, which gave an overview of all contributions received and which was translated in all UN languages, meet a real need? Should a similar paper be prepared prior to the next meeting?

There is a crucial need of a synthesis paper, the problem is that the content of the specific synthesis paper for Athens was not enough targeted at the real problems of Internet Governance,. It did not reported, in a fair fashion,  critical opinions and therefore was of little practical use, and in fact it was never used as a reference in any discussion, so far I know in Athens.
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muguet
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« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2007, 06:43:10 AM »

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