Brazilian Internet Steering Committee sets out Plans for April 2014 “Global Multistakeholder Meeting on Internet Governance”

The Brazilian Internet Steering Committee (CGI.br) has issued an Announcement (http://www.nic.br/imprensa/releases/2013/rl-2013-62.htm) about planning for the Global Multistakeholder Meeting on Internet Governance that will take place in Sao Paulo on April 23-24, 2014. Extended discussion of the background developments leading up to the request made by ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade to Brazilian President Dilma Roussseff that Brazil host a meeting on Internet Governance, as well as the potential merits and risks of the meeting and the means by which various stakeholders could impact its planning, was a central aspect of last week’s ICANN meeting in Buenos Aires.

Several participants commented that the CGI’s notion of multi-stakeholderism is substantially different from its accepted meaning within the ICANN community. This may be reflected in the Announcement’s description of meeting participants – “The event shall have the participation of governments, civil society, academy, international organisms and entities, as well as technical and business communities.” – in which technical bodies and the business sector appear as something of an afterthought. CGI has posted ten Principles for the Governance and Use of the Internet (http://www.cgi.br/regulamentacao/pdf/resolucao-2009-003-pt-en-es.pdf) – but they are so general in nature that the real issue becomes the details of their implementation.

Buenos Aires attendants were told that the new 1net.org entity, formed by the ten signatory organizations of the recent Montevideo Statement, would be the vehicle through which members of the ICANN community and other private sector and civil society stakeholders could affect the event’s planning. The Announcement quotes 1Net’s coordinator thanking CGI for organizing the meeting, but it is unclear to what extent it or other outside groups will have a substantial role in shaping the event.

According to the Announcement, all the preparation for and key details concering the meeting will be determined by four meeting committees:

1. High-Level Multistakeholder Committee: Responsible for conducting the political articulation and fostering the involvement of the international community.
2. Executive Multistakeholder Committee: Responsible for organizing the event, including the agenda discussion and execution, and for the treatment of the proposals from participants and different stakeholders;
3. Logistics and Organizational Committee: Responsible for overseeing every logistic aspect of the meeting;
4. Governmental Advisory Committee: Will stay open to all governments which want to contribute to the meeting.

Committees 1 and 4 involve political and governmental functions, probably limiting effective private sector participation to Committees 2 and 3.

It appears that Committee 2 – the Executive Multistakeholder Committee – will play the key role in setting the meeting’s agenda and format as well as designating the proposals open for discussion. It is not yet known what process will be used to select the members of this key Committee, or how many will serve on it.

ICA will continue to monitor the planning of this meeting with a view toward ensuring that private sector entreprenesurs have a meaningful  role and that it does not become a prelude to more politicized Internet Governance that relegates the business sector to a secondary and perhaps more regulated role.

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