[DC3] DC3 Session (only 60 minutes)

Luca Belli luca.belli at fgv.br
Thu Sep 20 14:41:37 UTC 2018


Dear all,

The IGF schedule is online https://www.intgovforum.org/multilingual/index.php?q=filedepot_download/6785/1342

As you may notice the DC3 session will be on Day 1 - Monday 12 November, from11:10 to 12:10.
The draft description of our session, as discussed in June, is available here https://www.intgovforum.org/multilingual/content/igf-2018-community-networks-when-the-unconnected-build-connectivity

You will also notice that, unfortunately, the MAG has decided to maintain a reduced time-slot for DC sessions, allowing only 60 minutes for all DC session, as it did last year. This decision imposes some adjustments in the session organization, in order to fir in the reduced time-slot. Fortunately, we still have almost 2 months to make such adjustments in the most efficient way.

Let me share my concern as regards the MAG decision to keep on limiting DC session to 60 minutes, which is of course a very shortsighted decision , as it is extraordinary hard to present the work of the DC, have a constructive debate and request feedback in only 60 minutes.

I have formally voiced my disapproval of the MAG decision, stressing that this is not only counterproductive but also very discriminatorily applied (only to DC sessions and not to Best Practice Fora that, of course, are organized by MAG members) through a very opaque and unaccountable process (as, on the IGF website, there is no trace of when this decision was taken and what was its motivation) and totally disregards the many contributions sent during the stocktaking consultation, early this year, which praised the work of the DCs and requested to restore a 90 minute slot.

I attach below the message I shared yesterday on the DC coordinators list to stress my disapproval.

Here is the full list of MAG members, in case you want to reconsider your support (assuming that anyone here supports them) https://www.intgovforum.org/multilingual/content/mag-2018-members

Here is the publicly available email address of the Secretariat in case you want to voice your concern igf at un.org<mailto:igf at un.org>

Needless to say, it would be good to voice your concern during the next stocktaking consultation that, hopefully, will be not disregarded by the MAG again.

Best regards
Luca

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Luca Belli, PhD
Professor of Internet Governance and Regulation
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Dear Farzaneh,

You are raising some legitimate points and I think many of us would agree with several concerns you are voicing.

However, your account seems a little incomplete and this line of thinking seems to be very subjectively implemented by the MAG. Moreover although the MAG, as the IGF programme committee, has the authority to take decisions regarding the IGF programme, there is no trace of such decision and its motivation in any part of the IGF website, besides the IGF draft schedule, which of course is already the implementation of the decision.

Let me briefly elaborate on each of these points, for the sake of clarity.

Of course there are some DCs that have been more "dynamic" than others and, personally, I am on record in at least three occasions arguing that DC time slots should be based on a differentiated approach considering what outcome each DC plans to develop for the upcoming IGF (60 minutes are sufficient for discussing the update of a previously initiated outcome but largely insufficient when you have to present and request feedback on a completely new and large outcome such as a 200+ page report with 30+ co-authors).
NOTE that the application of such differentiated approach, using clearly specified criteria, would not be a way to punish DCs but rather a strategy to stimulate outcome production and foster appropriate schedule planning (objectives that one would assume should orientate the MAG's activities).

However, let me point that this critical approach equally applies to BPFs. There is no reason to limit it to DCs. It is quite easy to check the IGF webstie and realise that, exactly as DCs, some BPF are cleraly more innovative/ productive than others.

Moreover, your narrative fails to acknowledge that the large majority of DCs have acted not only in the public interest but in the collective IGF community interest, demonstrating with solid achievements that DCs (and IGF in general) are not mere talking shops but can promote research, concretely suggest policy and being heard, and be incredible vectors of stakeholder engagement and coordination. If you wanted to adopt a case-by-case differentiated evaluation, than you would have to give 120 minutes to those DCs who concretely produce outcomes that are utilisable and utilised by stakeholders.

Here we come to the discriminatory implementation of what may otherwise be a very legitimate critique. The critique you raise is only applied to DC sessions and it seems quite evident that the only reason for this "special" treatment is that BPFs are organised by MAG members.
Furthermore, although the reduction of time-slots may be in line with reduced-time optimisation, it seems quite incompatible with the fact that the MAG started reducing DC slots last year, when both time and space where quite abundant. Last year, on the afternoon of 14 December (which means less than 2 working days before the beginning of the IGF 2017) I personally received - together with many other session organisers - an invitation to organise a 30 minute-long flash session as there were 20 free slots! This means that, when the MAG started cutting 30 minutes per DC session, they even forgot to reallocate the time-slots that had been cut, which were available and unused until 2 days before IGF 2017!!!

This brings me to a final consideration to reply to the fact that the MAG, as IGF programme committee, has the power to reduce session length. Of course it has this power and no-one has ever contested this, but could anyone share a publicly available document (i) relating when such decision was taken, (ii) providing a motivation for the decision and (iii) stressing why the time-slot reduction is applied only to specific intersessional activities rather than all? I have been asking for this explanation for almost a year. Either I have been ignored or there is no such document. In both cases I would not really qualify this as the most transparent and accountable scenario.

Unfortunately, this looks like one of those situations in which some stakeholders are more equal than others and very short-sighted choices have been made for the sole purpose of demonstrating that the MAG has the power to define the programme. Fine, it has it and quite honestly no-one has ever questioned it. What is in question is the WAY it is used.
IMHO, the purpose of the MAG should be to facilitate the work of those who are producing useful outcomes, debating them at IGF and allowing IGF participants to provide their feedback. This looks very unlikely to happen in 60 minutes.

Although the original considerations you raise may be absolutely legitimate, their discriminatory and short-sighted application simply undermines the credibility of the MAG's decisions. And it is not really reassuring to see that MAG members are taking more than two years to understand these quite elementary considerations.

With my best regards,
Luca


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Luca Belli, PhD
Professor of Internet Governance and Regulation, FGV Rio de Janeiro Law School
Chercheur Associé, Centre de Droit Public Comparé, Université Paris 2
www.internet-governance.fgv.br
@1lucabelli
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