My meeting with Markus Kummer

Last night I had quite a long and interesting discussion with Markus Kummer, the IGF’s Executive Coordinator. I am not going to go into the specifics of our conversation, but it is apparent from his public pronouncements also that he is a pragmatist, and I am in comparison an idealist. He would rather not scare away skittish governments by talking about things like working groups and consensus, whereas I have no compuctions about doing so.

However, borrowing just a little of his pragmatism, I have decided to adjust my “log of claims” somewhat for the eventuality that I get to talk about it in today’s session on “The Way Forward”:

  1. I’ll concede the battle of “working groups” over “dynamic coalitions”, because the latter is really just a euphamism for the former anyway. They might though still like to be affiliated with the IGF, which could mean being able to host workshops in the future, to be listed on the IGF’s Web site, and to put their output to a plenary session. We therefore need to discuss criteria that such coalitions must satisfy if they want to maintain that sort of affiliation. One example would be that membership of the coalition should be free and open to any interested member of any of the four stakeholder groups.
  2. I stand firm on the requirement that there be a new open multi-stakeholder nominations committee for the Advisory Group. The Secretary General already delegates his authority to appoint the Advisory Group to the Secretariat of the IGF, so why could he not delegate it further to representatives of the stakeholders themselves? The principles by which they are required to made appointments, for example geographical and gender diversity, would be made public as too would the list of nominees for appointment. This would make the Advisory Group process more accountable, and it should also aim to be more transparent in its operations.
  3. I also still insist that the IGF discuss how to develop a capacity to deliberate and form non-binding decisions by consensus. The mantra that the IGF cannot make decisions is not a foregone conclusion but a choice. And it is a choice which runs contrary to its mandate from the Tunis Agenda which requires it, amongst other things, to “Identify emerging issues, … and, where appropriate, make recommendations”. There is no reason why we cannot talk about receiving the input of a dynamic coalition into the forum at large and eventually building a consensus around that output.

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