As President Obama is stepping back from the White House previous plan to abandon U.S. asymmetric role over Internet in 2015, -the administration now says the change won't happen for years, if ever - the major issue to be discussed in Sao Paulo, beyond the Principles still to be agreed upon, is about leadership and control. Pairing a World Internet Forum (WIF) with a World Internet Organization (WIO) could be the solution to preserve roles, respect principles, balance powers, and maintain a check-and-balance approach over IG. This idea is part of the submissions made at NetMundial. It is worth to explore and see why this innovative and democratic solution is a credible alternative to the current deadlock. Among the critical challenges, how will a MS model answer to the question of leadership? Who's going to be in charge, in a MS model? Everyone? Who's going to nominate that leadership/everyone? Who's going to control it, and eventually veto it or simply refrain it? Stakeholders? On an equal footing? Here is what the Swiss based think-tank Global Geneva submitted to the NetMundial participants a few weeks ago. In essence it is an hybrid solution recognizing the reality of what Internet is about: a global commons, a market, a jungle. A WIF-WIO pair could be what is missing in today's Internet, but in tomorrow's Internet where we will enjoy more than a single US root-zone.
The full Global_Geneva submission is here, The Next Best Stage For The Future of Internet Governance is Democracy
Extract from Submission 187 to NetMundial
"We are of the opinion that there are three levels of understanding to further articulate the next system of governance related to the Internet, and its many issues and challenges:
- A: intergovernmental level, (binding agreements, national and international public regulation, international law)
- B: global citizens level, (Internet principles, consensus, best practices, empowerment, fair competition, innovation, capacity building)
- C: arbitrage and justice level (unlocking deadlocks, dispute settlement and court decision).
_2.1 : Intergovernmental level
Establishment of a World Internet Organization (WIO) able to legitimize common public policies, regulations and standards related to interconnectivity issues. Some of them could be of ‘soft power’ essence – commonly accepted but recognized by treaties -, some of ‘hard power’ – new regulations or new policies. WIO would have full legitimacy, with the largest constituency among States, their signatures duly apposed to each other. WIO would be part, and contributive to, the international law and policy making framework. Each opportunity to vote by WIO constituency (governments) could be vetoed once, and only once, by the WIF (see below). In the latter case, a new round of discussions and negotiations should take place.
The WIO executive board would have a mandate to bring initiative and suggest reforms for approval and implementation by its constituencies, and would have to forward, document and submit any suggestion approved by the WIF (see below) on both the Internet public policy level, WIO bylaws or Internet governance level. To enter the Internet governance law framework, all of these suggestions would be approved by the WIO constituency, with a 75% majority, if not vetoed by the WIF (see below), or after a second round of negotiations within WIO, if primarily vetoed. WIO would not enter daily operations of the Internet governance. Still it would be the referring authority to IANA, due to its role with regard to DNS/root zone management, encryption and IPs. It cannot be that an entity responsible for such critical functions could be regulated, or place under an authority supposed to be regulated or having just a technical perspective; putting IANA under the control of TLD registries and root servers operators sounds even more dangerous. IANA functions would be handled in a independent fashion.
Thinking of innovation, would it be more than one root zone, the WIF, and not WIO, would create a board to oversight their setting, ruling, and inter-connectivity in full transparency and independence. Once set, this board would be handled and managed with the same precaution as for IANA, under WIO authority but not under its direct handling. The check and balance would still be into the WIF’s hands.
WIO would be the right entity to handle tax avoidance issues.
_2.2: Global citizens level
Establishment of a World Internet Forum (WIF) able to defend values, (see Internet Charter or Internet Principles), public concerns and support a just, capable and thriving interconnected space. The WIF would be the venue for a permanent dialogue between global citizens and all players in the field starting with accredited civil society representatives. The WIF would suggest and promote ideas, programs, policies (to WIO and governments), working in close relation with the other UN entities from Human Rights to Climate Change, Environment, Development, Trade, Intellectual Property to fund and support approved initiatives by the WIF. The WIF would be the ‘natural’ entity able to deliver empowerment and capacity building to any stakeholder, in particular to public authorities and public servants expressing such a need. The WIF would also be able to update the Charter if needed.
ICANN would be able to pursue its role for collective service fees, edit new TLDs, under the supervision of the WIF. I would not handle global public policy matters.
Regulatory proposal to WIO or initiative driven by grouping international entities (public private partnership, public or private) should be endorsed by a 75% majority of the forum constituencies. No unanimity would be required. No veto would be allowed to one single governments – no Security council here! The dialogue within the forum would be of multistakeholder essence, but profit-oriented participants would be excluded from voting with respect to regulatory proposal to WIO and changes to the Internet Charter – no doubt, the for profit participants would keep their capacity to express their view, thanks to their powerful means.
The exact setting of the WIF constituency would be discussed thoroughly during the preparatory period (see roadmap).
The WIF would be part of the UN system, but its constituencies would not be governments (see WIO), but global citizens and civil society recognized players of the field. All continents should be equally represented.
When values would be at stake, the WIF would address an official request to the entity, government or stakeholder responsible for not respecting the Internet Charter. This could lead to a resolution by the UN, and possible sanctions.
The location of IANA at WIO, and ICANN at the WIF, have probably to do with the fact that ICANN should be assimilated to a domain development and service entity when it comes to domain name. IANA would be the technical, safety and security entity. IANA should have a special link/status/contract with WIO in order to avoid un-wanted interferences from governments. A 75% majority at WIO would be requested to act/modify/contest a IANA decision, making it difficult for governments to go beyond reasonable and consensual demands. Again the WIF could veto a potential decision by WIO, once.
Among the WIF constituencies, there should be room for an online/remote participation of global users and global citizens. A citizen initiative should be considered, if able to embrace 5 continents, and criteria to be define during the preparatory process (see roadmap) in order to suggest program or regulation at the WIF level, then possibly at WIO level. The preparatory work (see roadmap) should take this into account, so that for the very first time citizens would have a chance to voice directly their concern. The digital wonder of today allows the lawmakers to think of this democratic and inclusive process to be part of the new Internet Governance eco-system. Such an initiative could not be vetoed and the WIF would have to finalize a proposal/initiative.
_2.3 Arbitrage and justice level to address deadlocks and disputes.
Establishment of a double system of arbitrage/settlement and justice/constraint, taking into account the positive lessons from WTO and WIPO. The arbitrage operandi would be placed under WIF scrutiny, in a transparent, accountable and responsible fashion. If no arbitrage/settlement could be concluded at the WIF by a specific board, the case would be brought to the appreciation of the court of justice, seated at WIO.
The WIF board of settlement could be called in on issues/conflict related to actions by stakeholders.
Action against the WIF could be taken to WIO.
As the UN system offers many different models of governance – see ILO, WTO, ISO, WIPO, UNDP, UNEP… - it offers a lot of opportunity to adapt any governance to the specifics of any major field of concerns. The UN system is flexible enough to envision a new system of governance, taking the lessons of other systems of governance, and considering the specifics of the Internet. The UN system can bring legitimacy to new entities or mandates, having to combine both international binding agreements and treaties with efficiency and a required speed to cop with the extension of the Internet space, impact and outcomes.
3_An innovation in international governance of the Internet could impact many other field of interests.
Since 1945, after a year of preparation and 4 months of intensive discussions in San Francisco, the UN Charter was signed by 50 future member states on June 26, the UN being installed on October 24, the same year. A fascinating new governance product of the largest war ever, the second world war, a globalized one. As an innovative political space, the UN even though it has been often criticized has face many new challenges and ‘invented’ many innovative entities and programs, related to both immediate and long term issues. One major innovation within the Internet new system of governance would be the fact that WIO and WIF would both have strong capacities to act, but would also be linked through a check and balance relation. As the WIF would be the “guardian” of a charter/framework of the Internet principles, it would be legitimate to censor an agreement at WIO level, which would not be in agreement with the Internet charter. A WIF veto would oblige any such agreement at WIO level to go through one additional round of negotiations. One possible option would be having the WIF as a member of WIO, the only one with no voting rights, but a veto rights on first round. A second negotiation would have to be conducted, in a fair understanding that the same proposal could not be run again without some serious amendments. An opposition between the WIF and WIO would lead to a major crisis which makes this new system of governance interesting if citizens and leaders wish to keep it aloft.
Any dispute against WIO should be taken to the UN general secretariat.
4_Funding of the new system of governance for the Internet
4_1: WIO would be funded by its constituencies.
4_2: The WIF would be funded for its most part by service charges for Internet unique identifiers (domain naming – extension) collected globally by ICANN, and in addition, specifically by ISOC/PIR for .net, .org, .com, .ngo.... That supposed that the ISOC/PIR capacities would be transferred to the WIF. ISOC being a community based organization would, like any other civil society organization, have to fund itself within its membership, or any other appropriate system. The PIR expertise and staff could be incorporated as a WIF department, but at reasonable cost. Such a funding for the WIF would be more or less similar to the way WIPO is getting the majority of its funding.
4_3: The work over Internet Charter would be secure by the UN.
It seems consistent to think that the WIF will require more budget support than WIO, which needs a secretariat but a rather small staff.
5_Roadmap for implementing the new system of governance for the Internet
Democracies and members of the United Nations are now facing the major challenges. As NetMundial will come to a conclusion on April 26, 2014, the Brazilian government should call for the UN to launch the following process, and suggest to help and participate in the preparation and Sao Paolo follow-ups with a few other major governmental partners (Germany, France, Saudi Arabia, India, China, South Africa and the US). In 1944 and 1945, 4 countries prepared the draft of a UN Charter (China, United Kingdom, the Soviet Union and the United States) after representatives of 26 countries pledged their Governments to continue fighting together the Axis Powers on January 1st, 1942, when the term ‘United Nations’ was first used by Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Such a call to the United Nations, following Brazilian president speech in front of the UN General Assembly and the Sao Paulo meeting would show obvious and strong consistency at both local and international level by the Brazilian head of State following the Brazilian conference. The call would require to:
_5.1 : Set a process to finalize an “Internet Charter” by convening civil society, users and their representatives, the technical and researching community, and governmental and UN delegations in limited number. Many interesting contribution are already there to start with, including the Just Net Coalition Principles. No corporations or business associations should directly participate to establishing that Charter - they already have enough power to voice their views and try to influence the writers of such an Internet Charter.
_5.2 : Set a common process to precisely define the two new bodies (WIO & WIF), their linkage, including check and balance between them, transparency and accountability, and their common adequate roadmap. The US will have to accommodate these requests, in order to end the asymmetric governance and market dominance of the Internet. This will take away the risks that the Internet is facing today. A non digital war treaty ratification should be a natural complementary objective to that process through the WCIT/ITRs channel. A Cyber war non proliferation treaty would be welcome.
_5.3 - Set a technical advisory group to best assess the core functions of the Internet, and see how to adequately transform them, or not, and how and where to position them in the framework of a WIO –WIF system. This process would be supported by a neutral group of engineers able to assist and advice the first two process in their reflection and capacities at a technical level. Clear criteria are needed to select the participants.
_5.4 – Such a global project needs leadership, under the neutral oversight and arbitrage of the UN general secretariat. A special appointment is necessary to have a high level diplomat or a former foreign affair minister, a former prime minister, or a personality of undisputable command, a man/woman of high reputation able to handle that process with the support of a small group of special assistants. He/she would have the support of a small multistakeholder advisory board to help him/her cope with the spirit of the overall process (WIF_WIO) and philosophy.
It seems reasonable to think that 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.4 could be achieved over a 1-year time frame, paving the way to another 6 months to found, fund and constitute the proposed entities and system of arbitrage and justice, and do the switch from the old system. Until then, the current system would basically be stable.