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: Renewal of the Advisory Group  ( 31683 )
Registered User

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« : December 16, 2007, 12:03:04 PM »

Please post any comments you have here
Jeremy Malcolm
Registered User

: 24

Compiling the IGF's report card

« #1 : December 30, 2007, 12:48:57 AM »

More is required for the renewal of the Advisory Group than simply providing for the rotation of its membership.  Such rotation will do nothing to make the Advisory Group more effective and accountable than it has been to date, both of which are sorely required.  Rather, three parallel reforms are necessary: the self-selection of Advisory Group members by stakeholders, the Advisory Group's empowerment to make decisions through a defined process, and the improvement of its accountability and transparency.

Taking these in turn, the first and most important of the above reforms is that the Advisory Group must be legitimised through the direct selection of its members by the constituent stakeholder groups.  The process by which the members of the Advisory Group are appointed at present is undocumented and uncertain.  No public criteria for nominees have ever been posted.  Those who self-nominate are not even informed of the outcomes of their nominations.

The Chairman has claimed that the process of appointment involves wide consultation, but consultation with whom, and why with them and not others, and how is this consultation advertised?  In reality, access to appointment to the Advisory Group is closed to those who are not already insiders in the WSIS process, and this results in a very narrow and insular group with little connection with ordinary Internet users.  This must change.

I propose that a new, multi-stakeholder nominating committee be formed, akin to that of the IETF.  The nominating committee would be open to participation by any members of the community who wished to do so, and in the likely case of an excess of willing participants, would be selected randomly, preserving equality between the stakeholder groups.

The nominating committee would be charged to develop a slate of candidates from each stakeholder group who fulfilled a given list of criteria (settled through the open consultation process), perhaps including regional and gender balance along with expertise and experience.  Unlike at present, the ability to attend meetings of the Advisory Group in person should not be a criterion for nomination.  Once a slate has been developed, the nominating committee would divide into its stakeholder groups to vote on which representatives of each group should be selected (again, preserving their equality of numbers).

The second necessary reform that has been noted above is that the Advisory Group must be empowered with the authority and the operating procedures to allow it make decisions on behalf of its constituent stakeholder groups, rather simply advising the Secretariat (who, according to legal fiction, solicit a final decision from the UN Secretary General).  The UN does not legitimately represent civil society and the private sector, and it is therefore inappropriate for its Secretary-General to wield such hierarchical authority over the IGF.  On this basis even the name "Advisory Group" is a misnomer; one reason why some have suggested that "multi-stakeholder bureau" would be more appropriate.

This is just one reason - apart from that of accountability, to be mentioned below - why defined procedures must be developed through the open consultation process by which for the Advisory Group to make decisions on the IGF's structure and processes (and perhaps in due course even on substantive issues such as the formalisation of recommendations upon which the plenary body has reached consensus).  It is likely that these procedures will involve deliberation and consensus, though there is no reason why voting could not be adopted as a fall-back mechanism given that the Advisory Group is a body of certain composition.

The third reform proposed above is that the Advisory Group must become more accountable and transparent.  Accountability largely means that there must be the means to ensure that the Advisory Group is faithfully executing its duty to the IGF.  Nomination of its members by the stakeholder groups will ensure this in part, in the same manner that regular democratic elections do for a nation state, but procedures should also be developed for the Advisory Group, through the open consultation process, to specify how it should treat the contributions of stakeholders and to demonstrate that it has taken them in to account.

As for transparency, although the Advisory Group has belatedly begun to publish summaries of its closed meetings, this still puts it far behind comparable bodies such as ICANN's GNSO and ALAC, as well as CGI.br, which publish full audio recordings of meetings.  From the IETF and RIRs amongst others, the Advisory Group should also adopt the practice of opening its mailing list to public scrutiny.  Finally, there is no reason why meetings of the Advisory Group should not be open to all observers.  Whilst this may initially cause governmental members some discomfort, the Advisory Group is not a traditional intergovernmental body and should not be structured like one.

These three sets of reforms - the composition of the Advisory Group from nominees of the stakeholder groups, its empowerment to make decisions on behalf of those stakeholders, and the improvement of its accountability and transparency, work hand in hand.  In my view, such reforms are key to the success not only of the Advisory Group but of the IGF as a whole if it is to survive as an institution of Internet governance.

The reforms to its method of appointment and its democratic accountability and transparency will ensure that the Advisory Group is perceived as legitimate, rather than being a high-level UN clique worthy only of the distrust of the Internet community.  The reforms to its decision-making procedures will also cement its legitimacy, as well as ensuring its effectiveness as an operating body.

Registered User

: 11

« #2 : January 15, 2008, 11:22:15 AM »

The following is posted on behalf of :

George Sadowsky
John Klensin
Matthew Shears
Patrik Fältström
Bill Graham

The text is an extract of an email sent to the Secretariat on 19 December 2007 as part of an ongoing discussion within the Advisory Group:

Dear Markus,

There has been considerable discussion among the technical community  regarding the issue that you have recently raised regarding the composition and evolution of the IGF Advisory Group.

The initial result of this discussion is that several of us would like to put forward the following proposal:


Role of Chair:
- The Chair should be a neutral person designated by the UN Secretary-General
- The Chair should be appointed for the remainder of the mandate of the IGF - we believe that Nitin Desai should continue in this role
Host country representative (at the host country's discretion):

- A senior local host country representative could participate in the AG meetings and be the interface for logistics and protocol matters for the event

Number of AG members:
- 40, comprising, in the spirit of true multi-stakeholderism and equal representation, 10 from each stakeholder group (governments, business, civil society and technical community)

- Rotation in March, service through end February following year

- International organizations with relevance to IG issues are welcome as observers (subject to the approval of the Chair)

Advisers to the Chair:
- Maximum of 5 advisers selected by the Chair

- The Chair may wish to extend an invitation to a host country representative to be one of the five advisers

Rotation:- Approximately one third of the AG members from each stakeholder group should rotate every year

- Each stakeholder group will be responsible for submitting the names of the outgoing and incoming Advisory Group members to the Chair for approval (the Chair may consult as he sees appropriate with regards to the proposed names). Stakeholder groups may provide more names than there are seats.  The Chair's decision is final.

- If an insufficient number of members have retired from the AG, the Chair may ask individuals to retire (in informal and private conversation)

Key guidelines for AG member selection:

- AG members should be chosen on the basis of how large and diverse a community they connect to (which is different than "represent").

- Anyone who did not participate actively and conscientiously should not be renewed.  (Note that participation can include postings to the list, private communications with the Chair and the secretariat, attendance at meetings, both in Geneva and at IGF, and actual work in  helping to facilitate the IGF, etc.).

- Quality of participation should count more than quantity of participation.

- The AG should be balanced in terms of, inter alia, stakeholders, geographic regions, gender, points of view, while noting that the competence/expertise of the group should not be diluted to achieve this balance.


Other members of our community have participated in the discussions leading to this proposal, and are planning to post their specific comments regarding its content to the list.

We trust that this proposal is a positive contribution to the continued functioning and success of the Internet Governance Forum, and we look forward to your comments.  In addition, we look forward to continuing to work with you  and Chairman Desai to increase the productivity of future IGF interactions and events.

Registered User

: 11

« #3 : January 21, 2008, 04:49:01 PM »

The attached file contains  excerpts from an ongoing discussion on the IGF Advisory Group mailing list thread on its own future.  The only changes made relate to an effort to anonymize the comments in respect of the Chatham House rule.  The discussion took place between 6 December 2007 and 15 January 2008. One contribution to this discussion is also posted as a separate submission.


* AG_Discussion_Thread.pdf (146.2 kB - downloaded 1001 times.)
« : February 04, 2008, 04:10:41 PM admin »
Registered User

: 2

« #4 : February 03, 2008, 09:28:21 PM »

This input is made on the behalf of IT for Change, an NGO based in India (www.ITforChange.net )

We are of the view that the issue of rotation of members of the Multi-stakeholder Advisory Group (MAG)  should be seen within and prefaced by an examination of some wider questions regarding the MAG. These questions relate to the very purpose of the MAG, and its effectiveness to meet this purpose.

Background issues that frame the reconstitution of the MAG

The nature of MAG is not clearly defined by the Tunis agenda, and its present form is mostly a matter of a convenient arrangement by those who have exercised power in deciding on this issue. This may have been quite well-meaning, as a part of a cautious approach immediately post-WSIS. However, the above stated fact of the ambiguity of the Tunis Agenda should allow us to keep open the options of what exactly does MAG, and even IGF, mean – or better still, what or who is the IGF. In any case, section 73 b of the Tunis agenda mentions that the IGF could have ‘a lightweight and decentralized structure that would be subject to periodic review'. Section 74 encourages the UN Secretary General to ‘to examine a range of options for the convening of the Forum’. The present structure of the Forum represents one such option, but the Tunis Agenda leaves other options open, and these should be examined in light of whether, and to the extent to which, IGF may be fulfilling the objectives of setting it up. After two meetings of the IGF, such a review is in order. Such a review alone will enable us to make judgments about an appropriate structure for the MAG.

To us it appears unlikely that either the IGF was meant to be just an assemblage of people who gathered at its annual meeting, or that such an assemblage by itself can fulfill the purpose and objectives of the IGF. The IGF has been given a set of clear mandates; it is difficult to understand how a mere open assemblage of people can be given a mandate. What would be the meaning of ‘mandating such an assemblage’? Besides, many of the specific mandates given by the Tunis agenda expressly can NOT be fulfilled by a group without some clear structure, and a set of some stable processes about it.

This leads us to believe that, in the light of the Tunis Agenda, the only way the IGF can be visualized must consist of some organized structure and processes apart from the annual meeting. And this ‘organized structure’ cannot just, and exclusively, be for organizing the annual meeting (as MAG works at present), but be such as to be adequate to meet the objectives and the mandate of the IGF, while the annual meeting itself remains the key body that legitimizes and provides the primary substance for the overall activity and outputs of the IGF. 

Apart from a direct reading of the Tunis agenda, an examination of the context in which IGF was formed also gives clues to what it should be able to achieve, and consequently what its structure should be. The text on IGF appears in the second part of the section on ‘Internet Governance’ in the Tunis Agenda, where after dealing with some specific issues in Internet Governance, from section 55 onwards, it moves on to the actual mechanism of IG, and the context of institutional requirements for global internet related public policy issues. We know that this part came out of some inconclusive agreements and mostly contains text of which the main purpose is to leave open future possibilities for appropriate global arrangements for this very important area.

The IGF was also mandated to meet some of the important requirements in this area. In assessing whether the present arrangements representing the IGF are adequate and appropriate we must examine the question; have they at all enabled us to make any progress towards plugging the gap in terms of global Internet policy mechanisms and resolutions (such a gap is recognized by section 60), and addressing the fact of the limitations of the legitimacy and representative-ness of the present mechanisms (to which allusions are made at various places in the Tunis Agenda).

It is not worthwhile to speak about MAG’s reconstitution without examining these issues – for we must know, reconstitution for what, and in what direction. All further decisions in this regard need to be framed within an open and thorough discussion on these issues, which we implore the MAG to take up with all stakeholders.

In absence of such an engagement, one will have to conclude – though it may be taken as an extreme view, we feel it politically necessary to express it – that IGF and the MAG may only end up aiding the legitimization of the status quo in global Internet policy making. WSIS was a seen as a process both to create new public policy spaces in the IG arena, and seek democratization of the existing ones, and IGF must take this WSIS agenda forward.

MAG - as the structure that determines much of what IGF is and what its outputs are - must be adequate to this task. This first of all requires appropriate decision-making processes and powers for the MAG. We saw how MAG was paralyzed in the relatively simple task of selecting speakers for the IGF’s annual meeting at Rio. This calls for some introspection, and seeking both the political will and the right processes to make decisions that are necessary to enable IGF to fulfill its mandate. In the working of the WGIG we know that a multi-stakeholder group when it takes its political task seriously is capable of producing much useful output. IGF and MAG should not give up before they have started to produce any useful results.

Specific Inputs on the issue of rotations of MAG members

In light of the above points, we are of the view that MAG’s role and nature should be re-examined before going for its reconstitution. Meanwhile, in terms of the specific issue of rotating the members of the MAG the following inputs are offered:

1.   One third of MAG members should be rotated every year.

2.   Forty is a good number for total number of members for the MAG.

3.   This number should be equally divided between the three stakeholders recognized in the Tunis Agenda – government, civil society and the business sector. (IGF should move towards using the term ‘business sector’ rather than the ‘private sector’, since this sector prefers to recognize itself as the business sector. More importantly, the different usage of the term ‘private sector’ in the US, and consequently in some existing IG structures, than its normal usage in the UN system, creates great confusion. This confusion has often led to improper recognition of constituencies and legitimacies in IG discourse.)

4.   It is not right to give representation to the ‘technical community’ as a separate, fourth, stakeholder group. Expertise is important but the stakeholder grouping is as per interests represented, and we are unable to understand what separate ‘interests’ does the ‘technical community’ represent. Adequate expertise should be spread across all stakeholder groups, and this can be a criterion that can be kept in mind while making the final selection. 

5.   Stakeholder representatives should be selected based on appropriate processes of self-selection by stakeholder groups. We do appreciate that it is difficult to recognize any one stakeholder entity, or even a given set of them, as completely representing the whole of that particular stakeholder group. This complicates the process of selection, especially in the case of civil society and business sectors, and makes for some scope for the final selecting authority exercising some amount of judgment.  However, the exercise of such judgment should be done in a completely transparent manner. Deviations from the self-selection processes of stakeholder groups should be kept to the minimum and be defensible, and normally be explained. 

6.   All stakeholders should be asked to keep in mind the need to adequately represent diversity in terms of gender, geography, and, where applicable, special interest groups.

7.   We find interesting the recommendation of a few members of the technical community in an earlier post that “AG members should be chosen on the basis of how large and diverse a community they connect to (which is different than "represent")”. We very much agree with this, and will like to further explore the implications of this criterion.

8.   As for Special Advisors, if they have to be continued, their role needs to be clarified. It is also important that there is enough diversity in terms of geography and of the constituencies they may ‘connect to’ which unfortunately is missing at present.

9.   There should be a single chair for the MAG, which is nominated by the UN Secretary General. The host country may be allowed to nominate a deputy chair.

10.   We very much agree with the UN Secretary General’s communication seeking greater transparency and flow of information between MAG and the various interested groups. We note with great appreciation that MAG has taken some steps in this direction – chiefly, issuing of a summary of proceedings of its closed door meetings, and recently, in this thread of discussions on rotation of MAG members, sharing the full proceedings of its online consultations. However, we see no reason why all MAG proceedings cannot be made completely open with full transcripts made available.  Only such discussions where individuals are discussed, as in case of selection of speakers for IGF meetings, may be excluded. Other exclusions may be sought with clear and specific reasons, which themselves should be disclosed. 
Registered User

: 1

« #5 : February 05, 2008, 01:39:58 PM »

Trying here to capture some of the views in the recent flurry of proposals for the "new" AG. I have posted a similar message in the MAG's internal list.

It seems most are taking as granted that a selection made by the UN General Secretariat will be "neutral" (both regarding the Chair and the MAG members). This is a new setting in which it seems the new SG had almost forgotten there is an IGF process. We have had a great Chair so far -- but there is no guarantee a possible replacement will be as good and as able to cope with the complex handling of political tendencies.

Neutral? I do not want a neutral Chair (the perfectly neutral Chair will be a robot) -- I want one with a vision of mission, and, with as little imperfection as possible, to be able to coordinate the process towards our mission reasonably balancing all interests -- this is what in my view Nitin has done. I hope he can continue. As to the MAG, it will be as good as the whole selection process. If we fail in submitting names according to the expectations of each group, the SG will not do miracles.

The original SKS (Sadowsky, Klensin & Shears -- later on posted in this forum signed by two more people) proposal says: "Each stakeholder group will be responsible for submitting the names of the outgoing and incoming Advisory Group members to the Chair for approval (the Chair may consult as he sees appropriate with regards to the proposed names). Stakeholder groups may provide more names than there are seats.  The Chair's decision is final." Fine with me, as long as there is sufficient transparency and opportunity for the interest groups to know about the process and participate in the names' selection for submission. We should not run the risk of having the existing MAG members exclusively deciding their replacements (or non replacements) in the name of their stakeholder groups.

I liked this guideline from the SKS proposal (which certainly does not apply for government members): "[M]AG members should be chosen on the basis of how large and diverse a community they connect to (which is different than "represent")." Challenge is, again, to make sure this is evaluated by the interest groups themselves, not only their current MAG members. Most other comments I had to make have been made by Qusai in his yesterday's post to the list, with which I generally agree.

frt rgds

« : February 05, 2008, 01:43:21 PM cafonso »

C. A. Afonso
Exec Board member - Information Network for the Third Sector (Rits)
Board member - CGI.br
Registered User

: 1

« #6 : May 13, 2008, 10:16:48 AM »

Some of the structures mentioned herein are to be reviewed for the betterment of the future generations Interest?.
"40, comprising, in the spirit of true multi-stakeholderism and equal representation, 10 from each stakeholder group (governments, business, civil society and technical community"
Being a World wide Organisation the Nrs are small, & should be increased.
in additions I do not find the issue of CONSUMERS or END USERs of IT products interested persons?.  I hope this may be reviews & changed to favour the consumers interest.?
"International organizations with relevance to IG issues are welcome as observers--(subject to the approval of the Chair)   ?  What if the chair has no personal interest to change the matter? will it remain UNCHANGED?             

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