Dynamic coalition coordination session

21 Dec 2017 09:00h - 10:30h

Event report

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The moderator Mr Markus Kummer, ICANN Board member, explained that the purpose of the session was to continue the discussion they had had previously. Kummer hailed the previous Dynamic Coalition (DC) discussions, stating that they had improved to a large extent. He thanked everyone who had taken part in the preparation of the DC papers. He added that the discussions had to be seen in a broader IGF context, with various efforts under way to improve the IGF in its ten-year cycle.

Kummer revealed that there was another working group which was led by Lynn St. Amour, the Chair of the IGF’s Multistakeholder Advisory Group, and which was more of a strategy group on the multi-year strategic work programme for the IGF. He added that there had been discussions in that group on the launching of a poll to ask IGF participants what they saw as priority issues. He then invited Ms Avri Doria, a researcher and ICANN Board member, to give her contribution. In her remarks, Doria said that Dynamic Coalitions (DCs) were being managed by the MAG, and it was solely up to the MAG coordinator to maintain that.

Building on Doria’s comments, Kummer pointed out the growing frustration and demand for slots. He felt that the MAG had the potential to impose criteria, for example through drawing lots, or by allowing those who had prepared a special paper to get a slot.

Mr Jeremy Malcolm, Senior Global Policy Analyst, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), noted that there was a drafting committee that was underneath the multi-year programme working group of the IGF, which was developing an option paper for looking at ways in which the IGF could better fulfill its mandate on the agenda, to be able to make recommendations where appropriate. He felt this could be a mechanism to have broader endorsement of outputs of Dynamic Coalitions.

Prof. Christopher Yoo, University of Pennsylvania, strongly echoed Doria’s comments. He revisited events from the previous meeting, where there had been claims that there had been overwhelming support for the DCs sessions to be cut to 60 minutes. Yoo refuted the claims, stating that everyone wanted more time for the DCs. He said that the DCs were operating following the philosophy of the IGF.

Mr Maarten Botterman, Director at ICANN, proposed that as DC leaders, they had an obligation to bring under-represented stakeholder groups into the dialogue. He reiterated that creating the notion that a discourse could happen with only part of the stakeholder community would distort the IGF philosophy. Botterman thus urged the DC to take up the responsibility of getting broader representation across, and meaningful participation among, the stakeholder groups, as there was role for each stakeholder group to caucus itself.

Botterman remarked that the DC had made a lot of progress over the last few years. He added that despite the fact that they respected the autonomy of different Dynamic Coalitions, there was need to have at least some quality standards such as openness. He proposed that the DC resort to day zero and/or minus one as it was important that they remain serious about progressing the agenda on the topics that mattered.

Mr Nigel Hickson, ICANN’s Vice-President for Europe, opined that it was vital to be clear where all the different DCs fit in the IGF. He hoped the MAG would look at the whole programme afresh. Hickson differed on the issue of longer time allocation for DCs, citing the need to be flexible, and suggested the adoption of the use of summaries and written comments where applicable.

Dr Luca Belli, Senior researcher at the Center for Technology and Society (CTS) of Fundação Getulio Vargas Law School, on his part strongly opposed Botterman’s idea of having Dynamic Coalition on day minus one. He felt that the IGF was already four days long with day zero, therefore asking people to add an extra day would be a lot for those coming from other countries, especially if they were already working pro-bono. While Belli liked the idea, he deduced that it was not feasible, and could be unfair on those who had less wealthy budgets. He echoed Hickson’s comments, urging the need to distill the content of the DC into bullet points, and to have slightly shorter time slots.

Ms Maryanne Franklin, Co-chair of the Internet Rights and Principles Coalition (IRPC), deliberated that she was not in favour of having a two-track idea where some DCs were allotted more time than others. She advocated for equal time allocation to quell the mushrooming of hierarchies. She stated that she was willing to compromise on the hour and a half being cut back to an hour.

Additional participants put forward various ideas. These included the suggestion of having a track of webinars in the weeks leading up to the IGF meeting, a notion that would be crucial in outreach.

The session drew to a close with discussions on stocktaking and quality control, where the DC concluded that having workshop themes in future IGF meetings would help draw interested audiences to the sessions.

By Bonface Witaba