22 September – Quickie on IG (a little late)

Sorry
for late blog about yesterday, only coming in today. The WSIS Gender Caucus have come up with a draft Briefing
Paper* that states its positions on WSIS PrepCom-3 so far, and by the time Lenka
& I worked on inputs and comments to the draft to be submitted to the
caucus, I couldn’t face Fabala anymore (sorry sweetie! - fyi, Fabala is the
name of my trusty laptop).








So now,
a quick update on what’s been going on. No winding reflections this time
(*phew* ey? ;-)).








Subcom
A plenary session in the morning (
): the Chair handed out a
discussion paper to see how language on Chapter 3 for the WSIS text could be
drafted. In normal talk, this means that it is still discussions on procedure;
i.e. how would it be done - split into smaller clusters? who will be in the
clusters? what sort of intervention rights would they have depending on the
weight of their stake? (e.g. governments by virtue of being elected are
supposed to represent their citizens, businesses & private sector being the
the ‘major driving force on the exponential development of the internet’, civil
society  on contributions to
technological innovations, working with communities, developing content etc.)
what parts need to be discussed? what themes? That sort of thing.








So
the discussion paper proposed a 5 part discussion, namely: 1) introduction (Geneva Principles, WGIG mandate, working
definition of internet governance or IG); 2)
stakeholders
(roles and responsibilities, coordination); 3) public policy issues related to IG
(infrastructure & m
anagement of critical internet resources; use of
internet (e.g. internet stability, spam, access to information etc); 4) measures to promote development (e.g.
capacity building, meaningfulparticipation in global policy development,
interconnection costs, multilingualism & enabling environment); 5) follow up & possible future
arrangements.








Not
sure where the chair, Masood Khan, pulled this framework for discussion from,
which was a point of contention at the plenary, where some delegates went,
“let’s go back to the WGIG report”, some going, “this is okay, let’s just move
on”, some going, “how about combining parts this and this together”, or, “this
is missing, we need to talk about it” etc etc etc. In short, no consensus on
how to move on. The urgency was that, well, almost half of the PrepCom-3 has
come about, and negotiations on drafting Chapter 3 (which is supposed to be the
document that the Heads of States sign in Tunis – no more discussions at that
point) hasn’t even started yet. So there were more talk on how to organise
this.








But
there was an agreement to split into smaller drafting groups, but another key
point that no one could agree on was the role of non-government stakeholders in
these drafting groups. What kinds of interventions should civil society,
international organisations and the private sector have? Some delegations
reckon full participation is important (especially US, but probably more for
the sake of getting private sector on the table rather than civil society),
some reckon limited in one way or another, some reckon it should be a
completely closed meeting. It was still open, with three possible scenarios:









  1. non-government
    stakeholders have no access to the drafting groups at all; or


  2. non-government
    stakeholders have a right to speak or submit written comments, but be asked to
    leave after that; or


  3. non-government
    stakeholders are allowed in to speak for 5 minutes, then remain as silent
    observers; or



  4. non-government
    stakeholders part of the drafting group with full negotiation rights.















Of
course the last one would be nice, but also probably wishful thinking. At the
Civil Society Contents & Themes meeting in the evening, a general consensus
vote was taken, where the first option was completely objected to, the second
and third came up with a grudging “maaaaaybe…yeah, okay”, the fourth was, well,
as I said, ideal, but wishful thinking.








So
the big deal is? Basically, there are 2 important points. One is a matter of
principle. With all the talk of participatory, open, transparent,
democratic, multi-whatever bla bla bla, by limiting or excluding non-government
stakeholders from participating in negotiation, it is tantamount to saying,
“yar, thanks very much for your input, we have decisions to make now, bye bye”. Seriously unacceptable.








The
other is kinda like a matter of procedure. Talking from a civil society point of view, if
we were not allowed to be at least present (but silent) observers of the
drafting process, then the first time we would know about proposed language and
who said what would be at the morning plenary sessions the day after. This
means that civ soc wont be able to
analyse the language and come up
with input and suggestions until the next day. So imagine it’s Monday, the
meeting happens without civ soc, civ soc finds out on Tuesday morning what
happens, work on it on Tuesday, submit speakers and other info on Tuesday
evening to speak only on Wednesday. But at the plenary session on Tuesday
morning, the government delegates would have gone through the process of saying
whether they objected to the language or are in consensus about it. So when
Wednesday morning plenary sessions come about, civ soc would be commenting on
the language develope
d during the Monday meeting, but delegates would
be having discussions and making decisions on what happened at the Tuesday drafting
group meetings. If I’m not understanding this wrong, in essence, it would be as
though civ soc is operating on a slow-time-machine. Talking about the yesterday
today, when everyone else is talking about tomorrow. Make sense?








Yeah,
I know. It’s super confusing. I find myself in a constant state of perpetual confusion in
this space. But there’s always someone who’s willing to spend a wee bit of time to help explain some
stuff if I ‘fess up that I’m a WSIS idiot =D

jac smk

*hah!
see how I cheat on the promise to keep this quick and sweet. sorry
about this, just wanted to add that the WSIS Gender Caucus have come up
with two different statements: 1) on the issue of internet governance;
2) a briefing paper for government delegates on the WSIS GC positions
in relation to some points debated at PrepCom-3 (political chapeau,
implementation & the way ahead). The statement on Internet
Governance have been disseminated outside of plenary and session rooms.
As far as I know, the briefing paper has just been finalised today
(23rd) after getting feedback from the larger WSIS-GC members through
its mailing list. okay, really stopping now. really!

(i think i suffer from stop diarrhea =/)



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