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i2: Working definition of Multistakeholderism (m17m)

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Proposal

Propose the following as a working definition of multistakeholderism

Multistakeholderism: study and practice of forms of participatory democracy that allow for all those who have a stake and who have the inclination, to participate on equal footing in the deliberation of issues and the recommendation of solutions. While final decisions and implementation may be assigned to a single stakeholder group, these decision makers are always accountable to all of the stakeholders for their decisions and the implementations.

with the following definitions of some included terms

Equal footing:

The recognition, enjoyment or exercise by all stakeholders, on the basis of equality and without discrimination, of the freedom to participate in multistakeholder processes. In Internet governance this is in line with stakeholders’ roles and responsibilities, which should be interpreted in a flexible manner with reference to the issue under discussion. As with UN representation by governments, where all are equal regardless of size or wealth, contributions should be judged on their quality, and not by the number of people that a representative may claim. Notions of equal footing must take into account all aspects of capacity to participate, and must strive to enable full participation through capacity building and development agendas.

Stakeholder

A term borrowed from Project Management.

” Loosely defined, a stakeholder is a person or group of people who can affect or be affected by a given project. Stakeholders can be individuals working on a project, groups of people or organizations, or even segments of a population. A stakeholder may be actively involved in a project’s work, affected by the project’s outcome, or in a position to affect the project’s success. “

and the derivative:

Multistakeholder process:

A form of participatory democracy where any person, alone or as part of a group, can contribute fully.

Reasons

Argument 1

I have tried to include the minimum necessary components in as short a definitions as is possible. We need a place to start, and some many state that they do not know what multistakeholderism means. This is what I think people, in the aggregate are talking about. It is like the term democracy, we all know what it means to us, but when we start to define it, a whole academic field opens up.

Argument 2

It includes the issue of 'who decides' and the problem some have with multistakeholder decision making and the fact that it is not always practical at the end of the discussion for everyone to decide together. It tries to allow for that, while maintaining the need for multistakeholder accountability, no matter who make the decision.

Re: who have the inclination

I am differentiating here between those who are active and those who may not even know what is going on. I think that a stakeholder has to declare intentionality. One is not only affected, but one decides to do something about it. I think including that intention to participate is important. One not only has a stake, one puts on the table, so to speak.

Re: multistakeholder process definition being aspirational.

I expect it will always be aspirational in that respect. Perfect multistakeholder process are not likely and thus we will be forever reaching toward a goal.

Suggestions for improvement (2)

written and rated by the supportes of this initiative to improve the proposal and its reasons

Some suggestions


I can support this and have withdrawn the NETmundial definition as a competing initiative for now. But I have some suggestions:

"those who have a stake and who have the inclination" -> just say "stakeholders", since you define this subsequently anyway? I don't think "who have the inclination" is necessary since you are only talking about giving them an opportunity to participate, not forcing them to do so.

"Notions of equal footing must take into account all aspects of capacity to participate, and must strive to enable full participation through capacity building and development agendas." -> "Notions of equal footing indicate the need to equalize power imbalances between stakeholder groups, in order to enable the full participation of all in multistakeholder deliberative processes."

"Multistakeholder process: A form of participatory democracy where any person, alone or as part of a group, can contribute fully." -> This is more aspirational than descriptive. I don't think it adds anything and can be removed.

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Equal footing


I am generally OK with this definition but if we are trying to establish a definition that reflects our overall apsirations I have a problem with this statement:

"In Internet governance this is in line with stakeholders’ roles and responsibilities, which should be interpreted in a flexible manner with reference to the issue under discussion."

I do not agree with the notion of stakeholders' roles and responsibilties (as per the Tunis Agenda) whether they should be interpreted in a flexible manner or otherwise (per the NM). We have had this discussion many times and I would prefer that we not limit, constrain or in anyway hamper civil society participaiton in governance matters, whether in the IG space or others, in the future. We want to support the achievements of the NM but we need also to look beyond and remove the shackles of roles and responsibilities entirely.

The sentence should be removed.

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