The Internet Governance Project has put forward a proposal for transforming the Global Alliance on ICT Policy into a policy “collaboratory” facilitated by virtual collaborative technologies. While I am in principle supportive of the ideas and analysis, I think it kind of jumps the gun, since no one has decide on the what the point of a “Global Alliance” really is.
The Internet Governance Project has released an analysis of the idea of a “Global Alliance” on ICT Policy as a potential successor to the United Nations ICT Task Force. Prepared as a contribution to ongoing discussions of the concept, the Project examined the how a multistakeholder alliance could contribute to international policy formulation on ICT, and why it should use new, Internet-based collaborative technologies to broaden participation.
The paper can be downloaded at: http://dcc.syr.edu/miscarticles/IGP-GA.pdf.
I need to say that online, mediated communications can never replace the value of human face-to-face interaction. The UN ICT Task Force is a perfect example of this, where most of the useful work was done in the hallways over coffee. (Remember the complete break-down in Berlin when the caterers put out the coffee cups without putting out any coffee.) The private sector reps (and civil society reps) who participate can justify their participation and support by showing how they are making new contacts and deals with governments and UN agencies. It can be harder to create this kind of informal, collegial environment in an online space.
As the proposed Global Alliance, the basic questions that needs to be answered are:
0. What would be the purpose of the Global Alliance? Would it simply extend the mandate of the existing UN ICT Task Force? Would it have a mandate to oversee implementation of the WSIS targets? (This might make sense, particularly if the ITU is rejected as the institution to monitor the post-WSIS implementation process.)
0. Who would sit on the Global Alliance? Would the membership come from a slate chosen by the UN Secretary General? What would be the balance of government – private sector – civil society. (Only 4 members of the 55 member Task Force are from civil society.)
I think these are the two questions that civil society should come prepared to respond to at the Global Alliance consultation in Geneva on February 21. After these questions are resolved we can move on to how the Alliance should operate practically.