The Fair of Competing Narratives: Civil Society(ies) after NETmundial

//This article is part of a series of posts by Stefania Milan, who is attended the NETmundial Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance on behalf of CGCS’s Internet Policy Observatory project

In many ways NETmundial provided a forum for a series of competing and intersecting narratives about the internet. Civil society played an active and constructive role in pushing forward a vision of the internet strongly supported by the human rights based framework. There is, however, no such a thing as “a” civil society, but rather a large group of actors with a number of competing views and values. This internal variety should be taken into account in the creation of the new NETmundial Initiative (or GlobalNet, as it might be called) currently being developed under the auspices of the Swiss based World Economic Forum.

In his 2011 article for Foreign Policy Analysis, Daniel McCarthy argued that internet governance (IG) is a “politically contested process of meaning making.” In his view, we ought to look at the narratives, or the “cultural and symbolic understandings surrounding the internet,” if we are to understand…

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The GovLab Selected Curation of Articles on Net-Governance: Issue 40

The Selected Curation of Articles on Net-governance (the SCAN) is a weekly digest on internet governance news, reports, and events produced by the Governance Lab @NYU (the GovLab) as part of the GovLab’s Living Labs on Smarter Governance project. The SCAN is cross-posted weekly from the GovLab on the Internet Policy Observatory. The original posting of the GovLab SCAN- Issue 40, August 29, 2014 can be found here.

This week’s highlights:

  • This week the NETmundial Initiative launched at the World Economic Forum in Geneva. The Initiative is intended to “contribute to the broader international effort to advance multistakeholder Internet governance on the basis of the NETmundial principles”. The event was recorded and live-streamed; the recordings are available here.
  • The ninth annual Internet Governance Forum (IGF) begins next week (September 2 – 5). The 2014 IGF will focus on many topics, including the IANA Stewardship Transition, the purpose and goals of the NETmundial Initiative, and issues such as…

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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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What did Africa Get out of NETmundial Internet Governance Discussions?

Ephraim Percy Kenyanito discusses what Africa gained from the April 23-24th NETmundial meeting in São Paulo, Brazil. This post was originally published on the Access blog on May 9, 2014 and can be found here. This is the second post in Kenyanito’s series that spotlights “African Contributions to Internet Governance Discussions.” Part one can be found here.


NETmundial, the Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance concluded recently in São Paulo, Brazil. The meeting’s goal was to develop internet governance principles and propose a roadmap for the further evolution of the internet governance ecosystem. In total, 1,480 participants from all stakeholder groups were physically present at NETmundial, and there were more than 30 hubs around the world (in 97 countries) that facilitated remote participation.


Our previous analysis of African stakeholders’ contributions to the initial NETmundial open submission process found that stakeholders from Africa emphasized human rights and role of governments in matters of internet governance.


NETmundial concluded with the approval of a final statement on internet governance principles. The final text built on contributions from the initial NETmundial open submission process and inputs from the Public Consultation on the Draft Outcome Document on the NETmundial’s website. However, in the process of…

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