Tomorrow the NetMundial Initiative (NMI) will hold the first meeting of its new Coordination Council in Brazil. Access is participating as an observer, represented by Policy Analyst Javier Pallero, who will be attending in person. In preparation for the meeting, we have published a policy brief [PDF] aimed at clarifying the issues at stake in the meeting.
About the NMI
Regarded by many to have been born out of the Ilves Commission, and initiated by Fadi Chehade, the CEO of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, the NMI seeks to further the outcomes of the NetMundial, the Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance that took place in Brazil in April 2014. (Access participated in the NetMundial itself; here is our resource page for the forum.)
The NMI was officially launched in November 2014 and has been coordinated and driven in its initial phases by the World Economic Forum (WEF), the Brazilian Internet Steering Group (CGI.br), and others. NMI activities are currently scheduled to be led by an inaugural coordination council consisting of 25 members, after completion of a nomination process for its initial coordinating body.
The issues at stake
It should be noted that since its inception, the NetMundial Initiative has been subject to both praise and criticism. Previously, we expressed our concerns in a blog post, after attending the initial meeting in Geneva in August 2014. These were in addition to the worries expressed by other actors such as the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the Internet Architecture Board (IAB) and the Internet Society (ISOC), among others. These worries ranged from concern about the lack of consultation with the global community on various grounds, to the need for clarification regarding the Initiative’s approach and organizational structure. Observers took note that the NMI went ahead with its announcement of the Inaugural Coordination Council and community review process despite the fact that stakeholders in previous meetings had asked for more clarity beforehand about the NMI’s focus and strategy for adding value.
In the brief prepared by the Access Policy team, we lay out some of our concerns, principally around:
1.) Openness and inclusivity
2.) Clarity as to how the NMI plans to advance the NetMundial Principles
3.) The NMI and its impact on the future of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) and the WSIS+10 Review
4.) The need for the NMI to prioritize issues with respect to protecting and advancing digital rights
5.) The added value of the NMI as a forum or institutional process
Access will remain engaged in this process, observing the development of the NetMundial Initiative to ensure that institutional developments in internet governance reflect basic principles built on consensus by the Internet community, such as: the advancement of an open and inclusive internet; the equal representation and participation of all stakeholders; the protection and advancement of human rights online; and the promotion of transparency and accountability in governance institutions.
We are today at a special moment in history. Ten years have passed from the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society. A review of that process — and its significant outcomes — is happening now through the end of the year. This gives all internet governance actors the opportunity to define clear strategies for supporting key institutions and for defining accurate and relevant principles, plans of action, and spaces for engagement. There is increased energy and willingness among diverse stakeholders to invest in internet governance discussions, a positive development that must be married to the imperative of ensuring that we drive our combined efforts in the right direction.