MAG meeting on the 24th – the issue of self improvements

About the MAG meeting on the 24th, I find two interesting elements to report. The first is about the specific mandate given to the MAG by UN SG earlier this year to “make proposals with regard to its own future, should the mandate be renewed”. The meeting on the 24th was supposed to have this as its main agenda apart from reviewing Vilnius IGF. However, apart from discussing the way MAG members should be selected (to which I will come in another email), the meeting unfortunately did not really get into looking into any substantive aspects in which it could change/ improve its working methods and outputs etc. The problem was that right at the onset it was decided that the meeting will try to formulate a possible terms of references for itself, which further largely turned into an exercise for developing TOR or expectations for aspiring new MAG members. The discussion therefore got a lot ‘technicalised’ towards discussing details of what MAG members have been doing over the years, rather than address the political question of how MAG can improve itself to still better serve the IGF mandate and its impact, especially in the areas of perceived lack. Obviously, if we just look at ‘what did MAG members do’ for the sake of developing a list of expectations from new MAG members, the discussions take quite a different direction from what can be expected to happen if we specifically focus on possible improvements. I am quite sure that a ‘what MAG members did’ kind of documents could easily be developed by the secretariat and possibly passed around for inputs if necessary. There cannot be much debate over such directly observable facts. The real issue of possible improvements of the MAG got almost completely ignored. I do not understand why developed country govs, technical community, private sector and many in the CS do not appreciate that most actors from developing countries – esp CS and govs – really really want substantive improvements in the IGF for it to begin to contributing to global Internet policy making, which is the primary purpose for which it was set up. Interestingly, whenever, there is a move from within the UN to discuss IGF improvements – whether in form of CSTD WG or UN Gen Assembly discussions, there is a loud clamour from the groups that I mention above that IGF should self-evolve, and self-improve. Why then when the primary driving body of the IGF – the MAG – is specifically asked to suggest ‘proposals regarding its own future’ which in my view should specifically contain proposals for improvements, it simply refuses to even take up a good discussion on the subject? Can any IGF self-improvement enthusiast explain this paradox to me? Contrary to what any outsider may expect from a meeting of a Body (with a political role and mandate) called for the purpose of considering its future form and activities, and giving specific suggestions in this regard, there were almost no animated discussions. The meeting almost fizzled out post lunch when people seemed eager to just be done with it and leave. Thats the MAG and the IGF for you. They dont want any real outcomes, and they dont want others to tell them to change.