ICANN At-Large Advisory Committee Contribution to the Consultations on the Establishment of the WGIG
This document represents the contribution of ICANN’s At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC) to the “Consultations on the Establishment of the Working Group on Internet Governance” to be held in Geneva on September 20-21, 2004.
Nature and Scope of Internet Governance
We think that the scope of “Internet Governance” cannot be defined once forever, but that the most important long term result of this process should be the creation of a permanent multi-stakeholder table where every stakeholder may raise Internet-related issues as necessary and discuss whether they need governance and at which level, or whether the current governance framework for such issues is satisfactory. Moreover, this table should define standard models for the inclusion and consultation of all stakeholders, which can be used as a blueprint for the governance of any new issue that might arise in the future.
While aiming at this bigger result, the working group should also conduct broad consultations so that a first list of issues to be considered is built from the bottom in an inclusive manner; the working group should then prioritize this list and understand where each issue can be best dealt with.
As a starting point, existing governance frameworks, such as those pertaining to naming and addressing, intellectual property protection, e-commerce, privacy protection, and standards development should be examined so to ensure that they meet the requirements put forward by the WSIS Declaration of Principles, and that a truly multi-stakeholder approach is implemented in each of them, while ensuring that the present functionality of the network is not broken by hurried changes.
Composition and Structure of WGIG
The working group should be kept to an inclusive but manageable size (20-30 members). All three main stakeholder groups (governments, private sector and civil society) should offer the same number of members.
Members should be chosen for their individual skills and profile and for the added value that they could contribute to the work, rather than for their affiliation or for the entity that proposed their name. Members should have a broad background and the ability to understand different points of view and different issues; they should not see themselves as representatives of any entity, but rather as individuals that should act in the general public interest.
The composition of the group should be diverse not just in terms of geography and gender, but also in terms of social and professional background, past experiences, age, language and culture. It is particularly important to ensure an adequate presence of non-native English speakers. However, balance principles should be applied flexibly and with common sense, and not become an obstacle in ensuring that all necessary expertise and points of view are included in the group.
The group should operate at the working level; its members should consider this task as one of their main priorities for the next year, and be available to devote a significant amount of time to do actual work. Active and enthusiastic people should be preferred over busy gurus.
Regarding civil society members: care should be taken to ensure that they are not in fact affiliated with any of the other two stakeholders; and they should be representative of the broad set of NGOs and academic, technical and consumer groups that have been participating in WSIS and past Internet governance efforts, and, ultimately, representative of the final end-users of the Internet.
It is extremely important for the success of the working group that at least some of its civil society members are not governance professionals, but actual users. In particular, the Internet has grown mainly thanks to the personal initiative of a generation of young and enthusiastic people who have founded companies, created websites, invented applications and released open source software; people from such a generation must be included in the group.
We stand ready to propose a few names of people meeting these criteria, if considered useful.
WGIG working methods
The working group should try to experiment with innovative ways to allow for remote participation of all interested parties, including those who cannot afford physical participation at meetings. For example, compatible with available resources, public meetings should be webcast over the Internet, and any party, including individuals, should be allowed to pose questions or make statements during specific “open times”, either in person or by e-mail and other electronic instruments.
Particular care should be taken in ensuring effective participation by non-English-speakers. Public meetings and documents should be translated at least into the three official languages of the WSIS, and support should be given to volunteers wishing to provide translations in other languages.
In particular, civil society members, with adequate practical support by the Secretariat, should commit to the active dissemination of up-to-date news and information about the process (for example, through weblogs), and to an open and transparent discussion among Internet users and civil society participants in the WSIS about the themes and proposals of the working group.
Sub-groups possibly should be established to work on specific issues, to ensure that the working group is not overloaded with the practicalities of each of them, and that all of them can be addressed in a timely manner. Such sub-groups should include some members of the working group as well as other experts to be appointed by the working group itself.
Document drafting should happen in a truly multi-stakeholder way, as was done, for example with the procedure used in the Tokyo preparatory meeting for WSIS. All official documents of the working group should then be published as drafts for public comment. Everyone should be allowed to submit comments. The working group should ensure that any proposed changes are broadly discussed in the Internet community, so that consensus can be created around them.
About the ALAC
The At-Large Advisory Committee was created last year to provide advice on activities of ICANN that relate to the interests of individual Internet users, and also to help the At-Large community throughout the world organize for structured involvement and informed participation in ICANN. Its activity is underpinned by a growing set of civil society organizations – the so-called At-Large Structures – that involve and inform diverse types of users all around the world. ALAC members include: Africa -- Pierre Dandjinou, Clement Dzidonu (Vice-Chair), Sunday Folayan; Asia -- Hong Xue, Izumi Aizu, Toshifumi Matsumoto; Latin America -- Sebastian Ricciardi, Erick Iriarte Ahon (Vice-Chair), Tadao Takahashi; Europe -- Vittorio Bertola (Chair), Thomas Roessler, Roberto Gaetano (ICANN Board liaison); and North America -- Esther Dyson, and Wendy Seltzer. Biographies of these individuals, and information on the ALAC, can be found at www.alac.icann.org . ALAC members can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.