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[I-coordination] Agenda for the Brazil meeting

Milton L Mueller mueller at
Fri Dec 13 19:29:55 CET 2013

Your three messages provided a constructive and interesting contribution to the discussions here. 
Let me respond to what seems to be your 'executive summary' below, indicating points of agreement and points of divergence (not really disagreement, more a feeling that things should go in a different direction)

-----Original Message-----

>We do not need to start devising an agenda from scratch, there's a rich body of relevant work to 
>build on, much of which was discussed at the IGF in Bali.

Agree, of course. 

>The Brazil meeting should be the start of a process, not a self-contained event; we do not need another 2 >days of Internet governance chatter that leads nowhere.

Agree, but which process should it be the start of? A new one or an old one? You answer this question below, but see my response...

>The IGF is our best means to carry work forward: far from ideal, but it is the most significant, 
>global multi-stakeholder process (and the work coming out of the Brazil meeting can hopefully >strengthen the IGF and make it more relevant).  

There are two problems with this recommendation. 

1) For this aspect of your program to work, certain actors in IGF process would have to revisit their opposition to the IGF making any recommendations or having any tangible outcomes. Furthermore, the MAG and the IGF Secretariat would have to up their game quite a bit. They would have to respect the outcome of the Brazil meeting and not try to undermine or reverse it if the Brazil outcome did not correspond to views of the dominant faction of the MAG.

2) The main significance of the Brazil event is that it needs to bridge states and the Internet community of nonstate actors. It is not clear that states who are generally critical of or resistant to the native internet institutions are convinced they should view the IGF as the next step nor have they shown even a _capability_ to use the IGF very well. So you have a lot of work to do here to get your program implemented. 

>President Rousseff's speech at the UN General Assembly earlier this year and the Montevideo 
>Statement should be the basis of discussion in Brazil next April, and the basis of work the 
>meeting sets in motion.  

Agree about the Montevideo Statement. But Rousseff's speech was about surveillance. I have heard direct statements from ICANN staff that they will not participate in a meeting if surveillance is a major part of the agenda. Am I wrong about this? 

>The Brazil meeting should charter working groups to address the challenges Rousseff/Montevideo raise.  
>The 2015 IGF in Brazil will be an ideal opportunity to receive the completed work from the working >groups.

I like this idea a lot. Presumably the WGs would be multistakeholder. How open they would be and who would "chair" i.e., direct and possibly control them, needs to be considered. 

One important thing is missing from your agenda. I believe that the Brazil meeting needs to explicitly take up the question of stakeholder "roles" that was handed down to us by the Tunis Agenda (TA). I believe that good faith cooperation around global IG will not be possible until the unworkable ideas about stakeholder roles put forward by the TA are modified. As long as half or more of the world's states are acting under the belief that they have exclusive authority over some non-existent thing called "international internet public policy" and that business and civil society cannot participate as equals in the formulation of policies governing their operations and usage, we simply do not have the basic meeting of minds around fundamental principles of governance. 

We have already seen the European Union fighting over this aspect of the Tunis Agenda - some parties within the Commission adopting a conservative, pro-TA and anti-MSM approach to stakeholder roles, and others in Europe strongly resisting that. Consensus needs to be reached on a global basis.  The Brazil meeting may allow us to bridge that gap - not just in Europe, but all over the world. 

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