My name is Jeremy Malcolm, and I work for Consumers International, a global federation of consumer organisations with around 220 members in 115 countries. Consumers International supports the extension of the IGF's mandate. After all, if the IGF did not continue, we would have no alternative but to establish a substitute for it. In 2005 in Tunis it was observed that there was a gap in the existing regime of Internet governance in that there were transnational policy issues that were not being addressed in any global forum, let alone a multi-stakeholder one. Well, that gap hasn't gone away.
Having said that, even with the IGF as it exists now, that gap still exists, because the IGF is yet to develop from a simple discussion forum into a body that helps to develop public policy in tangible ways. At yesterday morning's workshop on multistakeholderism at the IGF, one of the panelists described the IGF as having had only a "subliminal effect" on Internet public policymaking. Well, the millions of consumers who are represented by the members of my organisation expect to have more than just a subliminal effect on Internet public policies that affect them.
In order to give them this, we would need to effect both structural and procedural changes to the IGF, to increase its legitimacy and its effectiveness. As far as its legitimacy is concerned, the key is for the IGF to overcome the democratic deficit that plagues conventional international organisations, and increasing accountability and transparency are key to this endeavour. For example, UN policies that were developed in an intergovernmental context may not be applicable to the IGF - and in any case, such policies should never be applied in such a way that the IGF Secretariat appears to be supporting censorship.
As far as the effectiveness of the IGF is concerned, the key is that IGF will have to develop the capacity to produce non-binding policy recommendations, something that the Tunis Agenda expected it would do. And although the IGF is a multi-stakeholder organisation without a defined membership, it is possible for such an organisation to collectively develop policy recommendations. I have participated in other similar organisations that have done so, and it does work. I won't go into the detail of how it works now, but I've spent three years researching this, and published my findings in a book about the IGF that is available for free download from http://press.terminus.net.au/.
So yes, there are changes that we would have to make to the IGF, in order to fill the gap in the regime of Internet governance that the Tunis Agenda identified. But the good news is, that we now have that opportunity. Because if the IGF's mandate is renewed, and we hope it will be, the renewal can be conditional on the reformation of the IGF's structure and processes in the ways I've touched on here. I hope to be a part of the future of that renewed, stronger and better IGF.