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The forum: Is it really a good idea? (part 2)

A few weeks ago, I wrote and article here, bringing to the table the potential perils of the latest WSIS possible outcome: The Forum.

Most of my comments were related to a new kind of organization, linked to the UN, without a clear agenda and no foreseeable mechanisms of participation. However, in the last days I’ve heard some interesting proposals about this Forum. Apparently, many people who are pushing for this forum – among them some members of the WGIG and the author of the Argentine proposal, Amb. Ileana Di Giovan – are not thinking in a new organization, but rather in a kind of Event. Something like a periodic (maybe yearly) meeting where all the stakeholders come together as peers, to discuss certain topics that need to be addressed and doesn’t find another place for discussion. So, here are my thoughts on these new ideas.

The biggest idea on this new proposition is to have all stakeholders working as peers. And this is really a new idea: UN environment traditionally recognize two kind of participants: The sovereign states, and the rest of the participants. Many of these non governmental participants are allowed to participate in the process as “observersâ€?. Let me clarify this point: to participate as observer means to be present during the debates, get to speak some fifteen minutes form time to time, and submit comments on what you’ve heard. This is what we experienced during prepcom3 at Geneva. Working “as peersâ€?, on the other hand, means to get involved in the drafting committees, engage in policy discussions, and get your opinion reflected in the final document. So, this would set a new age in UN processes.

The agenda of this forum is still an enigma, and I think that we can’t discuss the how’s without having a clear idea of what are we discussing. There are some ideas about discussing “important issues that are not being addressed elsewhereâ€?, but we should acknowledge that this is a broad description. To launch such a forum without a clear agenda will lead us to the beginning of this discussion, without real benefits to the interested stakeholders, the Internet users and the unconnected, among them.

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