IGF 2023 Launch / Award Event #88 Legitimacy of multistakeholderism in IG spaces

Monday, 9th October, 2023 (00:30 UTC) - Tuesday, 10th October, 2023 (01:15 UTC)
Annex Hall 2

Global Digital Governance & Cooperation
Role of IGF

United Nations University - CRIS
Nadia Tjahja, UNU-CRIS, IGO, WEOG Dr. Hortense Jongen, VU Amsterdam and University of Gothenburg, Academia, WEOG Sophie Hoogenboom, VUB, Academia, WEOG


Dr Hortense Jongen, VU Amsterdam and University of Gothenburg, Academia, WEOG Dr Corinne Cath, University of Amsterdam, Academia, WEOG Nadia Tjahja, UNU-CRIS, IGO, WEOG

Onsite Moderator

Nadia Tjahja

Online Moderator

Hortense Jongen


Sophie Hoogenboom



Targets: The purpose of this Launches and Awards session is to share with the Internet governance community our research results. We also aim to facilitate an open discussion with stakeholders at all levels to discuss how these research findings are practically relevant and can inform future discussions about Internet governance and multistakeholderism. Our work touches upon multiple Sustainable Development Goals, as it offers important insights into how multistakeholder global governance can take shape and promote inclusive participation from stakeholders. The need for meaningful participation from diverse stakeholders has been underscored with reference to multiple SDG targets. Hence, the discussions in this session are not only relevant for the global Internet community, but also for other policy areas that aim to develop policies through the multistakeholder approach.


The session will start with three short presentations in which the researchers will present the latest findings of their research on legitimacy and participation in multistakeholder initiatives (3 x 5 minutes). This will be followed with an interview-style discussion in which the researchers comment on each other's work and engage with questions from the audience.

Duration (minutes)

Legitimacy of multistakeholderism in Internet Governance spaces: ICANN, IETF, IGF In recent years, the importance of the multistakeholder approach to Internet governance has been underscored on multiple occasions. Examples include the Roadmap for Digital Cooperation, The Age of Digital Interdependence, Our Common Agenda and the consultations on the Global Digital Compact. These strategic documents emphasise the desire for a multistakeholder environment that focuses on cooperation and meaningful participation of stakeholders. Meaningful participation and legitimacy are widely considered crucial for the multistakeholder approach to work. Yet, how much legitimacy have different multistakeholder bodies been able to attract? And to what extent have these governance arrangements been able to facilitate and promote participation from different stakeholders and social groups? This session aims to reflect on these questions by bringing together three young academic researchers. During this session, these three scholars will present the latest findings of their empirical research on legitimacy and participation in three key multistakeholder initiatives: ICANN, the IETF, and the IGF. Each of these scholars takes a distinctive focus in their research: Dr Corinne Cath (University of Amsterdam) has investigated exclusionary cultures at the IETF, Dr Hortense Jongen (Free University of Amsterdam and University of Gothenburg) has researched questions of legitimacy at ICANN, and Nadia Tjahja (Free University Brussels and United Nations University-CRIS) has looked at youth meta-participation at the IGF. Their research offers important insights into stakeholder participation in Internet governance institutions and approaches as well as challenges to meaningful participation in these bodies. After three short 5 min presentations of their work, an interview-style discussion will be held in which questions are addressed on how to foster engagement and encourage inclusion and legitimacy in these three institutions. This discussion will also address the relevance of academic contributions, such as empirical research on multistakeholder initiatives, to policy discussions. The floor will subsequently be opened to the audience to ask questions about the research as well as to share insights from their own research and experiences. The discussion will engage with the following policy questions: A. How can multistakeholder initiatives promote meaningful participation from diverse stakeholders and social groups? B. What is the relationship between inclusive participation and the legitimacy of multistakeholder initiatives? C. What lessons for other multistakeholder bodies can we draw from the different ways in which the three multistakeholder bodies at the focus of this session (i.e. ICANN, the IETF and the IGF) aim to promote participation? ICANN - Dr Hortense Jongen https://brill.com/view/journals/gg/27/2/article-p298_7.xml https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/13540661221098218 IETF - Dr Corinne Cath https://www.criticalinfralab.net/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/LoudMen-Cor… IGF - Nadia Tjahja https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308596121000458 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308596122001124 https://cris.unu.edu/multistakeholder-participation-igf https://cris.unu.edu/youth-participation-internet-governance-forum

After a short presentation from each of the speakers, the onsite moderator will be asking interview questions and guiding speakers to answer them. Using Slido, we will be collecting questions from online and onsite audiences, where the audience can upvote questions and speakers will answer in order of popularity. Both online and onsite moderators will be monitoring their respective rooms and will welcome comments from the online and onsite audiences to bring in different ideas and perspectives.