Multi-stakeholder participation is crucial to the development of the Internet and its governance. For training VI on the topic of ‘Diversity and Multi-Stakeholder Participation’, I have done some research on how different Internet organizations are improving, or how they promote their multi-stakeholder participation.
In the case study, I included mainly 2 examples, which are the regional internet registries (RIRs) from Latin America, Europe, and Asia, as well as the ICANN Asia Pacific region.
The RIR from Latin America is LACNIC, having a total of 9670 members (Sep 2019), so the community is quite large. To facilitate multi-stakeholder participation, LACNIC works with governments by issuing recommendations addressed to them. For example, strengthen the commitment to IPv6 deployment in regions by the Inter-American Telecommunication Commission. LACNIC also promotes participation in the Internet field by providing discussion spaces in different regions, at different levels including youth (NRI), sub-regional, regional, and national levels. LACNIC is also very open to community contributions, hosting webinars and face-to-face public consultations, for example for the Address Supporting Organisation (ASO) Review.
The RIR in Europe is RIPE NCC, which has the largest number of members among all 5 RIRs, racking up to 25215 members (Sep 2019). With such a huge community, RIPE NCC has formed the RIPE Task Force on Enhanced Cooperation, with a purpose to advise on issues of enhancing cooperation between the RIPE community and different stakeholders. Under this task force, they have also formed the RIPE Cooperation Working Group to facilitate communication with other Internet stakeholder groups. RIPE NCC also holds regular roundtable meetings for governments and regulators, as well as work directly with other stakeholders. They include the European Union (EU), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and law enforcement agencies, to which they have formed the RIPE Cybercrime Working Party.
The RIR in the Asia Pacific is APNIC, having the second-largest number of members, with 13279 members (Sep 2019). To include more people from different groups that are not familiar with Internet topics, APNIC has created APNIC Academy, hosting monthly webinars on current network and security topics. They are also currently working on making the platform multilingual, to accommodate the needs of stakeholders of not understanding English. They also have an APNIC Policy Development Process, in which everyone can share opinions at their Policy Special Interest Group. On top of that, APNIC believes that having good policy process values is key to good multi-stakeholder participation. They have three main values. The first is to be open, by allowing anyone and everyone to propose policies and discuss policy proposals; the second is transparent, by archiving all sorts of policy discussions and decisions and make them available to the public; and the third is bottom-up, encouraging the community to drive such policy developments.
As for the ICANN APAC region, they have taken into consideration that half of the world’s internet users live in this part of the world, and previously, the APAC community was underrepresented in ICANN, therefore measures are taken to promote multi-stakeholder participation, especially from bottom-up.
One of the events that they hold to promote such multi-stakeholder participation is The Asia Pacific Regional Internet Governance Forum (APrIGF). The forum promotes bottom-up governance, and it involves a group of interested stakeholders coming together to work on issues or solve problems concerning the Internet, therefore they used this to provide a platform for discussion, exchange, and collaboration, aiming to advance the Internet governance development in the APAC region. Everything done or discussed at the APrIGF is done on a volunteer basis, and not one person or organization dominates the discussions. They have also formed a self-organizing group, namely the Multi-Stakeholder Steering Group (MSG), which includes representatives from different stakeholder groups and opens membership applications to anyone from the APAC region.
It is also important to keep in mind that multi-stakeholder participation promotes diversity, and ICANN is taking steps to achieve this. Accommodating language and cultural diversity is critical to the economic success of the APAC region since there are around 3000 different languages spoken there, therefore to facilitate diversity in the region, ICANN is coordinating a Domain Name System in which domain names in different scripts could be introduced without destabilizing the Internet, and these names can escalate Internet penetration for non-English users in the region. However, for the use of multiple scripts in domain names to be accepted, this requires multi-stakeholder participation. To develop the necessary standards and evolve the internet, the active participation of multi-stakeholders of local communities is crucial, including linguistic, code and policy experts.
From these organizations, we can see how multi-stakeholder participation is promoted to improve the Internet as a whole, and hopefully more organizations will promote multi-stakeholder participation and improve the diversity on the Internet.
Also, regardless of which region you are currently in, given that there are so many methods for you to participate and join in these discussions, I’d suggest you be a part of this and help improve the Internet together. To know more about these initiatives, feel free to go onto their websites to learn more.
 https://www.lacnic.net/# (https://www.lacnic.net/1026/2/lacnic/upcoming-training-activities)
About the writer
Connie Siu (NetMission Ambassador of class 2019/20, Hong Kong)
Bachelor’s Degree in Biomedical Engineering, The Chinese University of Hong Kong