IGF: CSOs feel left out in the cold
The Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has condemned the recent composition of the Advisory Group for the Internet Governance Forum (IGF).
The Caucus is the main coordinating framework for civil society participation in Internet governance discussions at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and subsequently at the first IGF meeting that was held in Athens-Greece, last quarter. Co-coordinator of the caucus, Mr. Adam Peake, who made this known at the weekend in a report to the CSOs on Internet Governance, said that his group was not adequately represented at the advisory group.
He also said that the composition was never discussed as part of the multi-stakeholders approach agreed upon at the second phase of WSIS in 2005, hence not transparent.
"While supporting the concept, we note that its composition, including the proportionate representation of stakeholder groups and the crosscutting technical and academic communities, was not openly and transparently discussed prior to its appointment," he declared.
Mr. Peake stressed that non-transparency of the composition equally borders on lack of clear norms in terms of mandate and working principles.
"We think that clear terms and rules should be established for the advisory group between now and another meeting coming up in Rio, through an open process involving all the participants in the IGF as a shared foundation for our common work," he said.
The caucus coordinator also noted that if the aforementioned dictates were adhered to, that would pave the way for the Secretary General's endorsement of the advisory group.
"If these rules and quarters for representation from each stakeholder group were openly established, it would be possible for the Secretary-General to delegate the actual process of selection of Advisory Group members to the stakeholder groups themselves," Mr. Peake said.
He emphasised that the dissatisfaction of his group for the limited representation of civil society in the first instance of the Advisory Group, which amounted to about five members out of about 40, is not a welcome idea.
"We think that the significant participation of civil society and individual users, as proved by the Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG), is key to making Internet governance events a success both in practical and political terms," he said.
Mr. Peake equally said that CSOs would like to see such participation expanded to at least one-fourth of the group, if not one-third, and to the same levels of the private-sector and of the Internet technical community.
"We confirm our support to the civil society members of the incumbent group and stand ready to provide suggestions for additional members with direct experience from diverse civil society groups," he said.
The group also reiterated the need for the IGF to be considered as a process rather than as an event, and supports the concept of dynamic coalitions and their activities.
"However, there needs to be a way to bless their work and give some recognition, even if not binding, to their products," he asserted.
He insisted that a transparent, multi-stakeholder, and democratic process should be commenced to develop the criteria for the recognition of dynamic coalitions by the IGF in which the output of coalitions that satisfy those criteria could be formally received for discussion at a plenary session of the upcoming IGF meeting.
"The IGF was created to help solving global problems that could not be addressed anywhere else," he said, noting that simple discussion is not enough as that would betray what was agreed in Tunis which is clearly stated in the mandate of the IGF itself.
"We stand ready to provide more detailed procedural suggestions on how this could work in progress or to participate in any multi-stakeholder work in process to define it," he said, pointing out that future consultations before Rio should examine in detail the various parts of the IGF mandate as defined in paragraph 72 of the Tunis Agenda, and specifically, how to deal with those that were not addressed in Athens.
He cited for example, that comments F and I required the IGF to discuss the good principles of Internet governance as agreed in Tunis and how to fully implement them inside all existing governance processes, including how to facilitate participation by disadvantaged stakeholders such as developing countries, civil society, and individual users.