1. OBJECTIVES OF BEST BITS
- To raise the level of shared understanding about related groups, initiatives and issues and their political contexts.
- To broaden and diversify participation in the initiatives that participants are undertaking individually or in smaller networks in the areas of Internet governance and Internet and human rights.
- To amplify the voice of global civil society at upcoming multilateral Internet governance and Internet rights meetings.
- To strengthen involvement from civil society from the Global South in particular in global Internet governance and Internet rights debates and to dissolve North-South divides
- To produce tangible shared civil society outputs addressing pressing current issues that can be used in advocacy at important upcoming Internet governance and Internet rights events.
- To develop an inclusive and sustainable civil society network for Internet governance and Internet rights issues.
2. ORGANISATION OF THE NETWORK
So far, BB has worked as a platform: it has made possible the amplification of work by individuals or organisations that consider themselves members of the list. Only work done at BB meetings has been referred to as a ‘BB initiative’ as such.
Our proposal is to continue in the same vein. This means that we will not set up any working groups or the like, but that those who would like to pursue a particular issue in more detail together will coordinate amongst themselves and report back to the open list as and when they feel this is appropriate. In this vein, the action-oriented and flexible nature of BB can be retained, by facilitating rather than institutionalising.
By proposing an initiative to the BB list, or by participating in the BB list, a person does not become a member as such, but does state to subscribe to the objectives of BB as listed above. In addition, the person agrees to adhere to the working procedures (see http://bestbits.net/wiki/procedures/) and the following guidance principles:
- be action-oriented
- be willing to compromise
- be realistic (Anja: I quite like having idealistic people around as well!)
- be committed to a plurality of representative voices
- be conservative in what they send, liberal in what they receive
- actively promote the balanced participation of participants from the Global South and North
The emphasis on the action-oriented nature of BB does not mean that discussion is not possible – in fact, it is generally crucial to explore a new issue, find common ground and build consensus. But discussion alone is not the aim of BB. BB meetings in particular will be dedicated to issues where the likelihood of outcomes is great, as sufficient discussion around them has already been had on the open list and/or collective action around them using the BB platform has already been taken in some form, rather than to exploring new issues from scratch.
Governments and private sector can subscribe to the general mailing list. However, as BB is essentially a CS network, where CS subscribers feel an issue needs to be discussed among CS only, this can be done on the already established EC list (so far used for the conversation on enhanced cooperation). Outcomes of such discussions can in due time be reported to the open list. Where a group of BB participants is working on a particular issue and find it helpful to have a separate, closed email list to support their work, this can also be created. BB meetings are open to CS participants only, whether they are in-person or remote participants.
Connections with other relevant networks are maintained through personal connections with individual members/representatives or through participation by individual BB participants in such networks. Where such connections do not exist, an attempt will be made to actively establish them. Networks can sign on to all BB statements and representatives of networks can participate in BB activities. However, networks do not have any special standing in comparison to other participants in the list and the voice of networks will not carry greater weight than that of others. BB is also not tied or constrained in any way by the agenda of other networks.
To facilitate lightweight coordination of the network, a Steering Committee will be established. The tasks of the Steering Committee will include the following:
- practical tasks as listed in the working procedures (eg. take final decision where there is a dispute about whether an initiative is appropriate for the BB platform; shortlist nominees for representation in third party initiatives; etc);
- represent BB in third party initiatives as relevant;
- raise funding as required;
- plan for the yearly meeting, both where substance and practicalities are concerned, the former with input from all participants;
- ensure the website is up to date and ensure the social media presence of the platform, including by appointing non-steering committee members to take care of this, if considered appropriate;
- establish and maintain connections with other platforms as appropriate;
- any tasks required to ensure the overall evolution of the network in line with its objectives, especially the overcoming of the North-South divide.
Expressions of interest in serving on the Steering Committee will be solicited on the mailing list once per year between annual meetings. Based on the expressions of interest received, the existing Steering Committee will propose a suggested new steering committee that satisfies the following criteria:
- At least 1 member from each of the five regions Africa, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Caribbean, Europe, North America/Other, with a maximum of eight members.
- At least 40% women.
- Minimum term 1 year, maximum term 3 years, with a 1 year gap before reappointment.
- Open to civil society participants only.
The steering committee’s proposal must be approved by consensus on the mailing list. Objections to the proposal can be raised based on its suspected lack of alignment with the objectives of BB.
Funding will be sought to support the platform and its activities as and when required. This includes funding for the organisation of the annual meeting and to facilitate the participation of participants from the Global South who lack funding. It may also include funding to support other operational tasks, such as the maintenance of the website.
Any BB participant may fundraise to support their own participation in the Best Bits network, or the participation of others. A draft generic Best Bits concept note should form the basis of fundraising approaches where the fundraising is done on behalf of the BB network. The following criteria will be followed when deciding to accept funding on behalf of the BB network:
- Does the funding place participants or objectives at risk?
- Does the funding jeopardize relationships with participants or other networks?
- Does the funding compromise the network’s independence?
- Does the funding relationship influence priorities, policy positions, advocacy efforts, regions of focus or direct action work?
An attempt will be made to establish a fund with varied sources of funding, rather than to be reliant on one funder alone. Where funding is obtained on behalf of the BB platform, the Steering Committee will make certain to communicate in a transparent and accountable fashion to BB CS participants how funds were spent.