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[I-coordination] New: How do we dissect Internet governance? [Was: Europe at a tipping point?]

Milton L Mueller mueller at
Tue Dec 17 17:29:13 CET 2013

I agree with Jeremy.
Unless Brian and other IETF folks are going to take a crash course in international relations, political science, and institutional economics, their efforts to come up with a definition of 'governance' is likely to fall far short.

However, there is one aspect of the definition that badly needs to be revised. That is the reference to the "respective roles" of different stakeholder groups. As noted in my response to Adam, the division of stakeholders into "roles" was a reactionary modification of the definition insisted upon in the early stages of WSIS by a coalition of authoritarian and more conservative-thinking governments. We can and should revisit that part of the standard definition.

From: i-coordination-bounces at [i-coordination-bounces at] on behalf of Jeremy Malcolm [jeremy at]
Sent: Tuesday, December 17, 2013 12:51 AM
To: i-coordination at
Subject: Re: [I-coordination] New: How do we dissect Internet governance? [Was: Europe at a tipping point?]

On 17/12/13 08:45, George Sadowsky wrote:
The WGIG definition of Internet governance, the result of meetings in 2004-5, was the result of political compromise.  I think that it is not helping us here.  AS Brian says below, the notion of Internet governance mixes up too many things, and does not seem to be useful for addressing real issues.

Can we come up with a different vocabulary and a somewhat different structure that is much more consistent with our problem space, so that these different issues don't get confused (and yes, I understand that there may well be overlap between them)?

Brian, can you suggest some appropriate vocabulary and/or taxonomy?

The wording of the WGIG definition of Internet governance is almost identical to a widely cited definition of an international regime that has a considerable body of theory behind it.  So I would hesitate to throw it out because it is unfamiliar or threatening to those who are more familiar with technical aspects of Internet governance.

I also don't think that redefining the terms of the debate now, when governments and other stakeholders have already become comfortable with those terms and have been operating under them for years, is going to bring the stakeholders any closer together, if that is something that 1net is aiming to do.

If the terminology does not fit well with the technical community's self-defined problem-space, or seems to extend to issues that you think are not "real issues", then maybe it is that that problem space is too narrow, rather than that the terminology is inappropriate or that those broader issues are not real.


Dr Jeremy Malcolm
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