Roadmap for the Further Evolution of the Internet Governance Ecosystem – institutional mechanisms


While there are multiple forums where issues pertaining to internet governance are being addressed, these forums do not all adequately fulfill basic procedural criteria, such as transparency, effectiveness, accountability and open participation. As a result, development issues have not been adequately tackled and some fundamental human rights are under threat. This submission intends to propose a model that improves existing institutions, maintaining a distributed, coordinated, system of internet governance.


Draft roadmap for the further evolution of the internet governance ecosystem

Shortcomings of the current internet governance ecosystem

1. Certain issues that are not adequately addressed in the current system

A variety of internet-related public policy issues are not being adequately addressed in the current internet governance ecosystem. A non-exhaustive list of pressing substantive issues that we, the undersigned members of civil society, believe are not being adequately addressed and that have important global dimensions include:


2. Institutional shortcomings of the current system

Institutional shortcomings in the current internet governance ecosystem are at the heart of the existing structural failures to address the substantive issues we list above. In our view, these are:

Guiding Principles for Evolving the Internet Governance Ecosystem

We consider the following mutually-supporting criteria to be necessary for the further evolution of the internet governance ecosystem:

a) Underlying Values

b) Decision making processes

c) Participation

Roadmap for the Further Evolution of the Internet Governance Ecosystem[3]

We outline below a proposal to address the shortcomings of the current system that are consistent with the list of criteria highlighted above. These arrangements seek to improve the existing internet governance ecosystem, developing and maintaining a distributed, coordinated, multistakeholder system of internet governance. The gradual implementation of this proposal provides a roadmap for the evolution of the Internet Governance Ecosystem.


While a centralised system might be easier to navigate, a distributed system guided by the principles outlined earlier in this submission addresses far more effectively the shortcomings listed above. The internet is not an fixed issue but an evolving space. Therefore it is a mistake to think that one body, and one set of experts, could possibly be responsible for effective policy making on all Internet-related matters. Rather, a distributed system better enables issue-based expertise, including from civil society from around the world, to engage on specific issues. Therefore the proposals below seek to address the weaknesses and gaps in the current system by strengthening, coordinating and improving the existing distributed system of internet governance.


1. A new co-ordinating function

In response to the shortcomings underlined above, we propose a new coordinating mechanism, consistent with paragraph 37 of the Tunis Agenda, to facilitate the coherence and effectiveness of existing internet-related policy making mechanisms within a distributed model.


This coordination mechanism, should include all stakeholders and build on work already done (including within the Correspondence Group of the Working Group on Enhanced Cooperation) to seek, compile, review, research and analyze inputs on progress and gaps in international Internet related public policy. Based on this work, it shall also recommend the most appropriate venue or venues to develop further policy as required.


It could [be newly established or] attached to an existing multistakeholder body such the IGF (per paragraph 72 b of the Tunis Agenda), to the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD), or to any comparable venue consistent with the guiding principles outlined earlier in this submission.


2. Issue-specific multistakeholder working groups

For some specific issues[4] that are not being adequately addressed in the current framework we propose that these should be resolved through ad hoc multi-stakeholder working groups developed on a case by case basis, bringing together relevant actors. The above-mentioned co-ordinating function would aid stakeholders in identifying gaps in the current framework so that ad hoc working groups would only be formed when there is an actual need and help forge collaboration between existing institutions and disband once the issue is addressed.


These groups could, but not necessarily, work within the IGF framework or through flexible, open and inclusive processes and that are consistent with the guiding principles outlined above. Innovative methodologies of broad consultation and participation could be looked into as alternatives when necessary.


3. Broad participation & role of reformed IGF

While the coordination function can be responsible for designating the venue or venues where issues that are not adequately addressed will be taken forward, the IGF should continue to function as a platform where ongoing policy processes and their outcomes are presented and can receive feedback from a wider audience.


The lGF process of the last five years has enriched our understanding of internet public policy issues, actors, spaces and challenges. Therefore, we view a reformed IGF that, at minimum implements the recommendations of the Working Group on IGF Improvements, as playing a central role for a space where problems are framed and principles are developed. In addition to the recommendations of that report, we also point to a series of concrete recommendations previously proposed by members of civil society, including new approaches to IGF themes, session formats, reforming the Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG), funding and online deliberation mechanisms.[5].


[2] A comprehensive list of these values was developed and posted under the topic set of internet governance principles of this consultation.

[3] Note: Reform of ICANN will be addressed in another submission.

[4] Additional comments can be found in Questionnaire response to CSTD Working Group on Enhanced Cooperation.

[5] Additional comments can be found in Submission to IGF on themes and formats for the 2014 meeting.



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