[IRPCoalition] IRPC looking forward

Marianne Franklin m.i.franklin at gold.ac.uk
Mon Oct 27 12:37:44 EET 2014

Dear all,

Apologies in advance for a longish email:

It is Monday morning and I have just got through the intense, and 
lengthy set of discussions spanning the full spectrum of possible 
visions for internet governance as our attention moves from the IGF, or 
ICANN, to the ITU this month. I am glad to see that there is now 
acknowledgment in the IGF community that what happens at the ITU is 
relevant to IG, just as what happens through ICANN is indeed relevant to 
human rights issues for the internet. That said, and before continuing, 
if I could just note that the ITU and the IGF, along with UNESCO, whilst 
all part of the larger UN system, are all very different organizations, 
with different histories (predating the UN itself as in the case of the 
ITU) and diverging organizational cultures. They also have very 
different approaches to how non-governmental participation works for 
private sector and civil society groups; informally and formally. 
Likewise for influential IG agencies like ICANN, the IETF, and bodies 
such as the Internet Society who cannot be defined as IGOs. These also 
have different approaches to both the problem (IG) and its solution (IG).

But let me take Charles's cue below about the primary focus for how the 
IRP Coalition might consider and respond to the outcome of the ITU 
Plenitpot meeting; how these various internet governance institutions 
can better support _human rights_. This is, and indeed should continue 
to be the IRPC's priority as human rights and principles for the 
internet are the primary remit of this coalition. As such they inform 
any IRPC support for any statement issued by others, or possible 
contribution to any IG-related meeting, or other venues where human 
rights for the internet are on the agenda or at stake; as a whole 
(international treaties) or individually (e.g. freedom of expression, 
education etc).

The recent IGF meeting in Istanbul underscored just how substantial and 
tangible the contribution of the IRPC has been through the IRPC Charter 
of Human Rights and Principles for the Internet 
<http://internetrightsandprinciples.org/site/>;  for framing and 
focusing energy on this matter across all sectors in the face of, _and 
despite_ intense differences about definitions, jurisdictional issues, 
rule of law. The need to address the role of states and corporate 
actors, and call all to account where need be, is by definition integral 
to this objective.

In this respect the IRPC can stand proud I would argue as an example of 
what a  multistakeholder coalition can do; i.e. a network based on the 
WSIS/IGF principles of a "multistakeholder participatory model" that is 
inclusive and open to all. This is not to say that this is a perfect 
model, nor one without enormous discrepancies in know-how, want-to, and 
can-do. For this is work that is labour intensive, expensive, and risky 
for those new to this domain where incumbent powers (governments and 
proprietors) do hold sway, where legal and technical expertise is a 
prerequisite for being taken seriously. But simply opening the door to 
said "non-experts" has been an historical achievement of the IGF model. 
Not perfect nor balanced but one that has been a sea change in how 
policy matters are debated for public record.

Moreover, all of us in the IRPC since its inception and related 
groupings (again, across all sectors) can share the credit for seeing 
human rights now firmly on the agenda at meetings where such items used 
to be considered anything but the first order of business. We can also 
take heart at how human rights are increasingly seen as an integral part 
of IG consultations, not an add-on or an afterthought. And those of us 
working at grassroots level, including in university and school 
classrooms btw, are looking to meet the demand of students for more 
information and discussion about how their rights (aspirational, or 
theirs by law) can be enjoyed when online. And when not, how they can 
seek redress in ways that will not bankrupt them or see them bullied or 
thrown in jail.

 From where I stand, i.e. as my two years as co-Chair of the IRPC come 
to an end, these are the most pressing issues and the most palpable 

Back to our primary focus; human rights for the online environment, and 
with that as an integral element to IG decision-making. The IRPC is a 
cross-sector network with a substantial civil society constituency, and 
with support from corporate and government representatives. Within the 
IGF remit, a Dynamic Coalition is as good as its outputs and to date we 
can take pride in our main output, the IRPC Charter.

At this point in time, fives years on, the IRPC Charter has achieved its 
core objectives and then some:
1) It has raised awareness and articulated a coherent and authoritative 
vision of what human rights for the online environment - and for IG 
decision-making processes - does already reside, in existing 
international human rights law and norms. This helps lawmakers, judges, 
local government officials as they make sense of what internet access 
means to them.
2) It has provided a powerful tool for educating and mobilizing at the 
local and national level for political actors and civil society groups 
as they face a range of human rights issues online or as a result of 
being online
3) The IRPC Charter has also become a tool for implementing policy 
changes, both as aspiration (e.g. the Netmundial principles) and as law 
(Marco Civil) that has been recognized by those active in these outcomes.
4) And it can take its place with pride as a key resource for landmark 
reports and resolutions at the UN level, and in national settings, e.g. 
in parts of the world like New Zealand 
where even (neo)liberal democracies have a lot of work to do to 
implement human rights-based internet policy

So far so good. The task now is to join the dots; generate synergies 
with initiatives that resonate with the spirit and the substance of the 
Charter e.g. the 13 Principles on Surveillance, or the Web We Want Magna 
Carta work at national levels, or the African Internet Rights and 
Freedoms Declaration.

So what next?

1)_IGF Stocktaking_ and Inter-sessional Work: Reflections and reporting 
out of Istanbul are underway for all DCs and others involved in that 
meeting; the IGF stocktaking process is one and reports on the IGF 
website from all our sessions is another. And for those who are still 
catching up; there is a full transcript and video records of WS 83 
<http://igf2014.sched.org/event/3e25d63b87b9c4dd41bb3000026b806b>, 146 
<http://igf2014.sched.org/event/b78a96b68de216dd4eb856751658c729>, and 
225 <http://igf2014.sched.org/event/108673c90f772a94e889c94a72651104>, 
and a report filed for the DC Meeting 
where we inaugurated the IRPC Charter Review with very useful insights 
from Amnesty and Article 19 along with those from the Charter's 
original  Expert Group (Dixie Hawtin, Meryem Marzouki, Rikke Joergensen) 
and Robert Bodle. Another sort of record is also available of all these 
sessions and others in which IRPC members were active on our Live Blog 

2) _Next Steps_; more on these once the new SC has been confirmed. Just 
to note though that there is still a lot of work to do of course; to 
consolidate the achievements so far outlined inWS 83 
<http://igf2014.sched.org/event/3e25d63b87b9c4dd41bb3000026b806b>, find 
financial and human resources to support new translations of the Charter 
Booklet (currently in 5 languages) into Nepalese, Indonesian, Mandarin, 
and Portuguese as we have volunteers willing to take on this work.

3) _Outreach and collaborations_; this year the IRPC has established 
some productive new collaborations and taken the IRPC Charter into new 
venues, IGO and others. More on these in due course.

4) _Funding_: Crowd-funding, crowd-sourcing and specific funding this 
year has enabled us to bring the Charter to Arabic speaking, and for 
Istanbul, Turkish speaking publics. We could not have done any of this 
without the support of individuals (since Bali, and specially to those 
of you who helped us find the funds to pay for the release of the 
booklets from Turkish customs) and this year with support from the Hivos 
IG-MENA Campaign <https://hivos.org/news/click-rights-and-get-it-right> 
and the Web We Want campaign 

Looking back, and with this very long email as a preliminary annual 
report (we are working on this!), I can only say that these achievements 
are what count; we are here for the long haul, intense disagreements 
about the relationship between the future of the internet and the future 
of our respective societies, let alone the world as a whole, are 
inevitable. They will remain so but as far as mobilization around human 
rights for the internet go, I would say that inclusion and diversity 
across all sectors has been a positive force. It is not an end in 
itself, nor a perfect formula, nor a silver bullet to address all 
injustices perpetuated by governments, corporate entities, and 
individuals (trolls, bullies, predators etc) online. But I am going to 
settle for less than perfection to enable that the good can prevail. 
And, on that note, recall Antonio Gramsci from the 1930's on the need to 
keep a pessimism of the intellect alongside an optimism of the will.

Lots to debate, lots to do, so please hang in there, and do join us for 
the next steps; one simple way is to take part in the election of an 
incoming co-Chair and an SC member for the 2014-2015 IRP Coalition 
<https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/QFPKLCN> as we head into 2015, an 
important year for human rights and the internet; everyone's voice 
counts: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/QFPKLCN.

All views above are my own.
Marianne F

On 24/10/2014 15:29, chaals at yandex-team.ru wrote:
> Hi,
> This by now pretty unedifying discussion about the finer theoretical 
> points of different approaches to democracy seems to have outlived its 
> usefulness to this group.
> It takes a certain kind of stubbornness not to recognise that there 
> are extremely serious limitations to the capacity of a 
> "multi-stakeholder approach" to be guaranteed to represent all the 
> people. But then, that pretty much follows from Arrow's theorem, along 
> with the fact that there are equally problems any other approach.
> We could argue about whether the model chosen for this group is the 
> right one, if there were some alternative proposal. Otherwise, I'd 
> love to see discussions related to some concrete proposal related to 
> ensuring or improving the way that Internet governance supports 
> improved Human Rights.
> (Yes, this is also what a "neo-liberal" would reply if they wanted to 
> shut down a discussion they found uncomfortable. Unfortunately, there 
> is no a priori way to determine whether my motivation is to spend my 
> time doing useful stuff, or to use any rhetorical trick available to 
> further my hidden agenda. So I'll just go with calling it like I see it).
> cheers
> --
> Charles McCathie Nevile - web standards - CTO Office, Yandex
> chaals at yandex-team.ru - - - Find more at http://yandex.com
> _______________________________________________
> IRP mailing list
> IRP at lists.internetrightsandprinciples.org
> https://lists.internetrightsandprinciples.org/mailman/listinfo/irp

Dr Marianne Franklin
Professor of Global Media and Politics
Convener: Global Media & Transnational Communications Program
Goldsmiths (University of London)
Department of Media & Communications
New Cross, London SE14 6NW
Tel: +44 20 7919 7072
<m.i.franklin at gold.ac.uk>
Co-Chair Internet Rights & Principles Coalition (UN IGF)

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