Between Theater and Practice: The Politics of NETmundial

CGCS Post-Doctoral Research Fellow Ben Wagner reflects on the April 2014 NETmundial Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance, discussing the decision making procedures and structure of the meeting.

Despite coming to a close, NETmundial 2014 in São Paulo remains a strange political beast. The organization and decision making-processes involved during the conference itself swung wildly between haphazardly obscure, open and participative, and mere political grandstanding. In a sense, it was great political theater to watch, but it was also deeply frustrating for anyone trying to get anything done.

There has been enough historicizing about what NETmundial was meant to be doing but little conversation on what it was actually doing. While Stefania Milan has already penned an excellent piece on the sociology of NETmundial, a sociology which included a wide array of techno-activist groups previously not present at the table, this post will instead focus on the decision making procedures and structures of the meeting.

Who is Assigned to Seats of Power?

At the outset, it should be noted that there is a substantial legitimacy problem in how the NETmundial Executive Multistakeholder Committee (EMC), the High-Level Multistakeholder Committee (HLMC), and the members of the drafting committee were selected. Some committee members were only informed that they…

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