[ccwg-internet-governance] REMINDER Re: NMI Consultation - deadline May 1st

Peter Dengate Thrush barrister at chambers.gen.nz
Wed Apr 29 20:36:21 UTC 2015

Some thoughts on the NMI ToR....
I think the first issue is not an editing of the text of the NMI ToR, but a decision at the basic level of whether to support the NMI at all, or not.

Many people remain unconvinced that this effort (NMI) (a) is a valid or proper successor to the Netmundial event itself, and (b) that regardless of their view on (a) is an unnecessary and top-down attempt at creating a new entity in the IG space, that may cause some harm, usually specified as confusion or competition with, or distraction from the IGF (including regional and national IGFs).

Pasted below are extracts from some of the public comments on the ToR to date from stakeholders as diverse as the DCA Trust (led by Sophia Bekele) the US Chamber of Commerce, and Richard Hill. (These are just a sample from the more detailed written comments. There are shorter supporting views posted also.)

Similar comments have been made in public by ISOC and the ICC.

There is also a sense that those comments and others are not being listed to, or at least acted upon. Recall that as part of the background to this,  ISOC’s CEO, Chair and board members met with Fadi Chehade, Steve Crocker and some ICANN board members on 17th December to attempt to resolve the differences expressed by ISOC in its 14 November rejection of the NMI.  At that meeting, apparently, the NMI proponents (ICANN) agreed to:

(i) Go back to the community to ask what the community needed in a platform for Internet Governance.

(ii) Build a step-wise approach to creating the initiative, that is, defining its Terms of Reference and Tasks it will undertake before the Initiative takes its final form and structure.
(iii) Consult with the global community on these proposals.
There is a sense that the spirit of the agreement to first consult the community has not been appreciated: NMI went ahead and announced the formation of its Coordination Committee on 23 December. It has consulted on its ToR, but commenters have complained that their views have not been listed to.

The IGF has been promised a seat on the NMI Council - the MAG has declined to take that up, but has appointed interim liaisons. A decision by the MAG may be made at its meeting scheduled for May 20-22. ( Disclosure: I am a current MAG member) 

Confronting those views are the facts that movers behind the NM ( ICANN and NIC Br) wish to see the momentum of a very successful effort maintained. Its undeniable that NM brought together a range of new voices including governments into a multistakeholder format and got acceptance (not unanimous, and some were merely not opposed, but still significant) on views which, although mundane to those on this list, are novel and challenging to many governments and others on first meeting.

Further, the WEF which represents a significant set of stakeholders, principally commercial, has entered the fray and in support of the MSM.
Its a fact that the IGF structure and processes are UN-based, somewhat opaque, and not well funded. Its also hard to fund, as the recent formation by ISOC of an IGF Trust attests.
The first Council meeting addressed grant applications which seemed at least not un-worthy. 

Taken at its word, NMI says it doesn't want to make policy, won't hold meetings, and wants to support the work of the IGF.
In the WSIS+10 environment, more support is welcome.

On balance, it seems to me that support for NMI should be given at this stage. We all know its very hard to get a new initiative off the ground. In this environment, its completely easy to criticize early processes. ICANN is a classic example. 

There are presumably well-intentioned folk on the NMI Council - including some "new blood", which the volunteer community is usually crying out to attract and retain. There are also some old hands at the table, so there is little risk of NMI going rapidly and completely off the rails without notice.

In the end, the decision is on the balance of the risks - whether it would be worse to not support something which might turn out to be very useful and be deprived of its benefits, or to support something which turned out to be damaging. 

In my view, the ability to limit "damage" as that might emerge, by withdrawing support, and limiting funding from ICANN, tips the balance in favour of supporting NMI.
That support can be constrained; by time limits, monetary limits, participation and oversight - all mechanisms people on this list well understand and can employ.

There is of course the ever present third alternative- do nothing and wait to see what becomes of NMI.
I prefer the active positions - but accept that there may be some in favour of the passive approach.

I suggest that if we can agree on a position, the actual decision about whether to, and if so what comments to make on the ToR will be readily apparent.



Extracts from the public comments on the NMI terms of reference follow:

DotConnectAfrica Trust

7.	It remains to be understood how the NMI can adequately address the needs and involvement of under-represented areas such as Africa. Regional IGFs are better frameworks for articulating regional views on Global Internet Governance. The NMI could actually cause the marginalization of Regional Internet Governance initiatives.
8.	The sort of complementarity that is envisioned between the NMI and existing IG initiatives has not been explained. The NMI has not clearly explained how it would be different from the IGF. For this reason, the NMI could actually cause the duplication of functions that are already under the purview of the Internet Governance Forum. The IGF that came out of the Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG) is a multi-stakeholder platform but lacks any decision making authority. If the IGF has any reported short-comings, perhaps, efforts should be made to make the IGF work better. If the NMI will not be involved in policy-setting, then it would suffer the same fate as the IGF. Therefore, the conveners/participants of the NMI should integrate their efforts with a view to strengthening the IGF.
9.	There is no provision that has been stated within the NMI Scope of Activities (IV) that cannot be done by existing Internet Governance dialogue frameworks. There is nothing in the NMI Principles that are not also conveyed in the IGF.

Richard Hill ( ex ITU)
I don’t see any relation between this document and the numerous suggestions and comments previously posted. In particular, I note that this document does not at all take into account my proposals regarding the Terms of Reference. I’m not able to find on your web site the various proposals, including mine, made regarding the ToR. But I presume that you have access to them and can find my previous proposals, which seem to me to still be perfectly valid and worth considering, even if you have not yet considered them.
It appears to me that this process is not a bottom-up process, but a top-down process. There is nothing inherently wrong in top-down processes, they can be efficient and effective. But let’s be clear about what type of process is being used here.
More fundamentally, I am among the many commentators that expressed skepticism regarding the need, or even the advisability, of this initiative. I note that all those comments have been ignored and that the initiative is proceeding anyway. The initiators are of course entitled to do that, but then they should not be surprised if the skeptics opt out of the process, given that the process is ignoring their inputs
US Chamber of Commerce
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce wishes to again voice concern regarding the creation of the NETmundial Initiative (NMI). We greatly appreciate the willingness of those tasked with supporting NMI to engage and address our concerns and look forward to continued dialogue.
However, based on our understanding of previous comments there appears to be very limited support, if any positive support exists at all, for the creation of a new initiative. In order to stay true to the spirit of the NETmundial Statement, we strongly suggest creating a new comment period to address whether NMI needs to exist and how it should be structured, if broad community support is in fact shown. It remains unclear that there is a need or desire by the multistakeholder community for a new forum, when resources could perhaps be better dedicated to improving existing venues. 
In the event NMI moves forward, it must not be used as a forum for making binding decisions related to Internet governance, policy or standards. While we appreciate the indication the NMI will not be a policy-setting body itself, it is still ambiguous as to whether NMI may fund projects that in turn attempt to set policy or create standards or how any funding mechanisms might operate. 
Finally we want to emphasize the point that NMI ought not to become a solution in search of a problem; the fact that funding may be available for certain activities/issues should not be taken as an indication that those items have merit.

> On 29/04/2015, at 10:48 pm, Olivier MJ Crepin-Leblond <ocl at gih.com> wrote:
> Hello all,
> I am a bit surprised that there have been no comments so far.
> The document is only 4 pages long. I understand some of you might wish to address comments on the document directly, but are there any comments which you feel *this community* should consider making as a whole?
> Kindest regards,
> Olivier
> On 23/04/2015 21:27, Renate DeWulf wrote:
>> Dear all,
>> Further to today’s CCWG IG call, Olivier has asked me to forward to your attention the link hereunder and has asked that you send in your comments to this mailing list prior to the deadline of May 1st.
>> http://ow.ly/LZ9Cd <http://ow.ly/LZ9Cd>
>> Best,
>> Renate
>> Renate De Wulf
>> Executive Assistant
>> Rond Point Schuman 6, 
>> 1st floor 
>> B-1040 Brussels 
>> Belgium 
>> Telephone: +32 2 894 7411 
>> Mobile: +32 479 40 07 44 
>> Fax: +32 2 280 1221
>> Skype: renate.dewulf 
>> Email: renate.dewulf at icann.org <mailto:renate.dewulf at icann.org>
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