The Internet Has Multistakeholder DNA

30/04/2014

By Ricardo Pedraza Barrios*

Multistakeholderism is undoubtedly one of the basic principles of Internet Governance. While the term has various translations in different languages, multistakeholderism means equal representation/participation of different parties or points of view. This representation of various stakeholders within Internet Governance is at the heart of the Internet’s architecture: there is no single body controlling the Internet, no single road to get from point A to point B.

Inclusive aspects such as openness and a plurality of points of view make it easier for Internet Governance issues to be interpreted in a holistic manner. Combined with transparency, accountability and dispute resolution mechanisms and structures, this global perspective has paved the way towards a common understanding on how to advance the technical, security, access, privacy, and human rights issues involved in Internet Governance. Established through global discussions and the development of local policies, this common understanding is what has made it possible to maintain the Internet ecosystem’s balance despite multiple interests, in some cases as conflicting as those of governments, civil society, academia, the private sector and the technical community.

Many different organizations involved in Internet Governance have adopted models and mechanisms such as the ones described above, yet some organizations have made greater progress than others. Likewise, some members of these organizations have adopted multistakeholder cooperation models quite easily, while others have had a much harder time accepting consensus based decision-making processes. The truth is that it is difficult to identify a single body that should be in charge of Internet Governance.

Conceived in the late 90s, the importance of Internet Governance has grown exponentially, so much so that today it is increasingly easy to find local, regional and global events addressing Internet Governance issues. In addition, certain specific events such as the United States Government’s announcement that it will begin transitioning the IANA functions to the international community are actions aimed at improving Internet Governance. This measure will definitely have a positive impact on Latin America and the Caribbean, not only from the point of view of our region’s potential involvement in this new management system, but mainly in terms of the awareness that such news can generate among different actors throughout our region.

*Member of the IGF Multistakeholder Advisory Group; founder and consultant at LATAM Consulting Services

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