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<nettime> Another Example of "Multistakeholder Governance" in
Michael Gurstein on Wed, 22 Apr 2015 22:21:18 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Another Example of "Multistakeholder Governance" in

   With links (which are probably necessary to make useful sense of the
   argument below) see:



   Michael Gurstein
    {AT} michaelgurstein

   Another Example of "Multistakeholder Governance" in Action:

   The Global CyberSpace 15 Unicorn

   The Global Conference on Cyber Space 15 (GCCS) has just concluded in
   the Hague, Holland.

   Of course, there are a dozen conferences a week on the Internet, the
   Digital World, Cyberspace and so on. But this one was meant to be
   slightly different. Not just a run-of-the-mill trade show, or a
   trotting out of show-boating pilot projects or demo's, or folks
   developing positions for pursuing their interests in Cyber Space...

   No, this one was meant, well, to have gravitas... to be a collection of
   sympathetic governments and the full panoply of "stakeholders" and thus
   to have some sort of broader impact on Global Governance of the
   Internet (and thus dear readers, or at least those who haven't spent
   the last five years in a cave, an impact on the on-going global
   governance of all and everything.)

   So this is how the conference describes itself:

   On 16 and 17 April 2015 representatives of governments, international
   organisations, businesses, civil society, academia and the technical
   community gathered in The Hague, the Netherlands, to discuss key
   developments in the cyber domain with a view to presenting a
   forward-looking agenda to promote a free, open and secure cyberspace.

   The Conference has taken stock of key developments in the various
   fields and has offered a platform for presenting and discussing
   important issues for the near future. It aims to be a catalyst for
   discussions on key aspects of the cyber domain, presenting an
   integrated strategic view of the issues. We welcome the general
   agreement that there is an urgent need for international cooperation on
   cyber issues among all stakeholders.

   The use of ICTs, and in particular the Internet, has become a matter of
   strategic importance for governments, businesses and citizens alike.
   Governed through a partnership between all stakeholders concerned, the
   Internet is an engine for economic growth and social development that
   facilitates communication, innovation, research and business

   The Conference reaffirmed its commitment to the multistakeholder model
   of Internet governance and called upon all stakeholders to further
   strengthen and encourage the sustainability of, participation in and
   evolution of this model.

   From the beginning of the London process, through Budapest and Seoul,
   there has been a growing commitment to cooperation among stakeholders.
   Governments were urged to ensure that cyber policy at national,
   regional and international level is developed through multistakeholder
   approaches, including civil society, the technical community,
   businesses and governments across the globe. Only then can the
   increasingly complex cyber challenges be fully addressed. To ensure
   that the Conference reflected the above principles, the Netherlands
   facilitated the organisation of a civil society pre-conference. The
   participants encouraged future editions of the Global Conference on
   Cyberspace to include a civil society pre-event.

   To unpack what is being said a bit. The conference is endorsing the
   multistakeholder governance model. The conference has now organized
   itself to include the range of "stakeholders" i.e. including "Civil
   Society" and thus has now entered (through this laying on of "civil
   society's" legitimizing hands), into that sacred state of
   "multistakeholderism" where the shackles of ordinary modes of
   governance and their banal and outmoded rituals of democratic
   accountability, transparency, representivity (with all their
   "baggage") can be thrown off and they (and we) can enter into that
   blissful state of consensus decision making by means of the sanctified
   apostolic group of (multi)stakeholders.

   We can thus expect them to perform their incantatory rituals of faux
   consultation and ceremonies of participation among the carefully
   anointed "chosen" and thus reach the nirvana where they are in a
   position to make their divinely and mystically conjoined
   multistakeholder consecrated decisions for us all.

   This particular "multistakeholder conference" has assigned itself the
   task of developing "an agenda" and a "platform" for Internet Governance
   specifically in the area of Cyber Security. It is clear from the
   announcements leading up to the conference and the outcome statements
   from the conference that the GCCS is meant to be a next step in the
   on-going process of setting out the framework for "Global (Internet)
   Governance" following on from the NetMundial, the Internet
   Governance Forums, the NetMundial Initiative, and so on... but in
   this case with a specific thematic interest in developing an agenda for
   the global governance of the Internet in areas concerning Cyber

   (Since this particular kind of quasi-, sort of, not quite "official",
   but in fact (meant to be) more or less official and very very
   influential (Internet) Governance activity, doesn't yet have a name,
   I'm suggesting that we call them "unicorns"--beautiful mythical beasts;
   beloved of illusionists, flim flam artists, and purveyors of fairy
   tales; shifting shape at will; but which have the unfortunate quality
   of disappearing as soon as one gets too close (or begins to ask serious
   non-mystical questions...

   So what of this particular "unicorn" the GCCS 15?

   The fact that it was convened by the Dutch government, that it was the
   fourth in a series, that many governments attended (but notably not
   many outside of the charmed OECD circle) and that the meeting issued a
   final statement which "received broad general support" after
   "consultation" "with the attending stakeholders" suggests that
   something of some significance took place. And clearly the intention is
   that the meeting and the Outcome Statement/Chairman's Report will have
   some status more significant than an ordinary trade or sectoral meeting
   press release. In fact of course it is meant to be one those increasing
   number of unofficial/official meetings of the form of the NetMundial;
   i.e. not quite on the level of the clearly "official" WSIS+10
   process, but having a normative and quasi-official status rather more
   than say TED talks or an ordinary Internet technical convening.

   As well, the activities of the designated/appointed/hired (by the
   conference organizers) Civil Society interlocutor/coordinator has been
   such as to give the "unicorn" the appearance of something with some
   broader on-going significance as for example, through circulating to
   the broader civil society e-lists the draft Outcome Document for
   comment and input.

   So I think that we can assume that the GCCS is meant to be one of that
   increasing stable of multistakeholder global Internet Governance
   unicorns whose intention is to replace more formal and "democratically
   constituted" global Internet Governance assemblies and processes. (It
   might be noted in passing that, the Chairman's Report while mentioning
   "stakeholders" and "multistakeholders" as a central element of Internet
   governance 24 times (in a nine page document), failed to mention
   "democracy" or "democratic processes" even once.)

   Why this matters of course, is because the clear intention is that this
   unicorn (and more importantly its' "Chairman's Statement") is meant to
   have a similar status to the NetMundial Outcome document i.e.
   something that is widely quoted, referred to (for example by the
   Internet Society) as a "foundational document", and meant to have the
   status of some sort of soft international statement of Internet guiding
   principles, deriving it's legitimacy directly from the fact of its
   multistakeholder origination and its authentication through "broad
   agreements" of the meetings' multistakeholder plenaries etc.

   The question of course, is what legitimacy does this unicorn have on
   its own terms as a "multistakeholder" process and thus what
   significance or legitimacy can its outcome statement have beyond being
   a statement by certain individuals selected on the basis of
   non-transparent critieria, with no accountability to anyone other than
   the funders, and thus presumably selected and designed to reinforce and
   ratify already determined policy positions as determined by the
   unicorn's organizers/sponsors/controlling agencies.

   o The somewhat hasty and last-minute process of facilitating Civil
   Society participation was completely lacking structures of transparency
   or of accountability to any agency outside of the organizational and
   decision making processes of the unicorn itself presumably under the
   direct supervision of the sponsoring governmental bodies.

   o The selection and contractual terms of reference of the Civil Society
   interlocutor (co-Chair of the Advisory Committee) were completely
   non-transparent and non-accountable to anyone other than the unicorn's

   o The Civil Society interlocutor's organization receives primary
   funding from several of the governments with dominant roles in Internet
   Governance and thus strong interests in maintaining the current
   Internet governance status quo

   o The facilitation of CS participation was done through non-transparent
   and non-accountable control over travel funding

   o the holding of the editorial pen concerning CS inputs into the
   documents were equally non-transparent nor accountable and were
   transmitted again via the Civil Society interlocutor.

   o The GCCG's civil society "Advisory Board", presumably selected on
   the advice of the Interlocutor/co-Chair is notably not broadly
   representative of CS active in the Internet Governance space for

        o it does not include representation from any of those who either
   individually or organizationally refused agreement to the UNESCO
   "Connecting the Dots" Outcome Document which deliberately chose to
   reject a commitment to "democratic governance of the Internet" in
   favour of "multistakeholder governance of the Internet";

        o nor does it include any representatives from the Just Net
   Coalition whose proposal for an Internet Social Forum has just
   received wide acceptance and support in the context of the recently
   held World Social Forum with 50,000 representatives of Civil
   Society in attendance.

   It is notable, but perhaps not surprising, given the above that there
   would appear to have been no objection on the part of the Civil Society
   Advisory Group to the failure of the unicorn to address the escalating
   issues concerning those (human rather than "cyber") "security" issues
   of most importance to the vast majority of Internet users-social and
   economic inequality, job and income insecurity, and the concentration
   of wealth and power in the global 1% facilitated through and by the
   Internet; evidently accepting the bland generalities of a concern for
   Internet "access" (as indicated in the Chairman's report) as an
   adequate substitute.

   Also, there appears from the proposed unicorn outcome document, to have
   been no discussion on the relationship between "security" and "social
   justice". Why for example, is the discussion concerning "cyber
   security" only framed in military or law enforcement terms rather than
   as is broadly seen as appropriate in global civil society, recognizing
   that economic and social security for all, provide the only realistic
   long term solution to the current cyber (and other) security threats.

   Again we have an example of a purportedly "multistakeholder" process
   which by its very nature is biased and which lacks any of the formal
   processes of transparency and accountability out of which the
   legitimacy of any governance process must be built. Yet we have the
   clear intention of inserting this as an element in emerging Global
   Internet Governance on the basis that it is "multistakeholder" and thus
   has broad acceptance and legitimacy.

   So dear readers, hold on to your hats - we are all in for a wild ride
   on and through these mythical unicorns as we finally and irrevocably
   are induced to give up any illusions of democratic governance of the
   Internet (and most likely everything else) in favour of governance by
   "multistakeholder processes" i.e. by the corporate and governmental 1%
   and those camp followers willing to be turned into rent-a-mobs for the
   price of an airplane ticket and a few nights in a 4 star hotel.

   I must say that I think the folks in the backrooms doing the strategic
   planning for the Internet Governance processes are a lot smarter than
   their fellows across the hall looking after the TIPP processes, for
   example. A few strategically placed small grants to selected compliant
   "civil society" organizations (names available on request), a few
   "concessions" on Human Rights issues in the area of free speech and
   free expression (which notably are completely supportive of current
   dominant government strategies for example, through the US State
   Department and major corporate Internet business models as for example,
   for Google and Facebook) and hey presto not only do you not
   have to worry about Civil Society opposition but for the sake of the
   grants and a piddling amount for travel funding you can be assured of
   active, even ferocious support from "Civil Society".

   Much better than worrying about leaks, and demo's, and angry
   electorates as in the case of the TIPP and if anyone questions why for
   example, the real economic and social issues attendant on Internet
   Governance aren't being dealt with, your "Civil Society" friends will
   say, but look at what we did achieved in the area of Human Rights
   (albeit by knocking on open doors).  Isn't that enough?

   We look forward to seeing all of you who are somewhat uncomfortable
   with these processes (and unwilling to be trampled into silence by
   herds of rampaging unicorns) at the upcoming Internet Social Forum
   where among other things we will be figuring out how to make the
   Internet both democratically governed and a basis for ensuring
   democratic governance in all global spheres.

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