Robert Guerra of CPSR asked on the WSIS plenary email list whether or not the plenary list should continue to exist or not. I will re-state what I said at the close CS plenary in Tunis.
All the structures and modalities that were developed over the course of the last four years in the WSIS process have effectively completed their mandates with the conclusion of the WSIS on 18 November. Thus all of our caucuses, working groups, Content and Themes, the Bureau, and Plenary itself should be considered as defunct unless specifically re-constituted and re-chartered.
I understand that the Internet Governance caucus wishes to continue as a caucus into the future, but I that’s the only one I have heard about.
With the creation of the Internet Governance Forum and the renewed mandate of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development there will be new opportunities for civil society at the global level to impact the policy process. We can not presume that our old structures and methods are the most effective or democratic ones for achieving maximum impact and participation. In fact we can assume that they are not.
The draft of the Civil Society statement on the WSIS indicates that we will evolve our own processes:
Civil society will work on the continued evolution of the current structures. This will include the use of existing thematic caucuses and working groups, the possible creation of new caucuses, and the use of the Civil Society Plenary, the Civil Society Bureau, and the Civil Society Content and Themes Group. We will organise at a date to be determined to launch the process of creating a Civil Society charter.
Presumably whoever signs on to the final statement agrees to work this evolution and a new CS charter.
As always, we seem to act when a deadline approaches. I suggest that at the latest we have until July 2006. This is because ECOSOC has been tasked with the following:
105. We request that ECOSOC oversees the system- wide follow-up of the Geneva and Tunis outcomes of WSIS. To this end, we request that ECOSOC, at its substantive session of 2006, reviews the mandate, agenda and composition of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD), including considering the strengthening of the Commission, taking into account the multi-stakeholder approach.
The ECOSOC substantive session takes place over the month of July. Thus we might see this as a deadline to come to some basic level of consensus on how we operate together by July if we are going to have any kind of structured input into this discussion.
Obviously it would be better if we had our act together before this. But this gives all of our respective organizations and ourselves time for internal discussions about how we wish to be involved from this point forward and how much we will need to coordinate with each other.