Option Paper on Methodologies for the Development of Written IGF Outputs

IGF WG-MWP option paper

The document was originally written for the Working Group on the IGF’s Multi-year Strategic Work Programme (WG-MWP), and it recommends possible pilot processes that could be trialled by the IGF to develop tangible recommendations in fulfilment of paragraph 72(g) of its mandate. But unfortunately, there seems to be no practical path forward to have its recommendations actioned by the MAG.

In the most recent MAG meeting, there were two proposals for pilot processes. One of them, which is referred to in the paper, is the Global Citizens Debate organized by Missions Publiques. Like previous similar efforts (such as Stanford University’s Deliberative Poll pilot) they found that it was impossible for them to have this formally integrated into the IGF process, and so it will be held as a day-0 event only. But even then, the Chair stressed that it could not be guaranteed a Day-0 slot because these are assigned on a competitive basis.

The second new pilot process was a new kind of output-focussed best practice forum on cybersecurity that would be the culmination of a process of intersessional work. It was proposed by Wout De Natris, who was a co-author of the option paper, which proposes such a process. But there was a great deal of objection during the last MAG meeting to allowing this event to be trialled, even as a pilot. The MAG Chair ruled that the MAG had no flexibility to allow any new session type to be mainstreamed at an IGF meeting, and was unable to promise anything more than assigning a lunchtime slot – the same as a book launch might receive.

This shuts down the possibility of the IGF fulfiling its mandate because it has been shown time and again to be impossible for the IGF MAG to approve any new session type that could be used to develop recommendations. If such a new process is to be created and mainstreamed as an activity of the IGF, the only practical pathway for this to happen is for it to be directed by the Secretary-General. As an initiative of the Secretary-General, it appears to me that the High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation may be exactly the vehicle that is required.

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