Multi-stakeholder Internet Governance

In our last  session we discussed how a transnational issue such as internet governance relates to the anarchy problematique in international relations. In an anarchic world system, with sovereign and equal states interacting without a global government, legal authority must be ceded by states in order to address issues such as internet governance. Transnational issues that goes beyond the level of any nation state thus necessitate a multistakeholder approach. No one nation, including the United States, should have an unproportionate amount of control over a public good such as the internet. The muiltistakeholder approach to internet governance services to advance ideals of equal treatment for internet access and net neutrality for all users.

Which is why the the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) transition is so important for strengthening multistakeholder internet governance. When many Internet Society members assembled in  2013 and  called for the transition of the IANA functions away from the US government’s control, the U.S. responded positively, soliciting  a plan for moving IANA’s oversight to the global, multistakeholder community. The plan was researched, debated and discussed by public and private sector organizations, technical experts, and civil society representatives from around the world, a reflection of the internet as a  globally distributed network. This is also significant in stakeholders realized that INANA functions could not simply pass from one state to another, but rather would necessitate a solution by all sectors of society. The Internet Society describes the importance of the endorsement of the IANA transition plan by all stakeholders in March of 2016, as a testament to the success of the multistakeholder internet governance approach. The process “worked to create a stable, secure, accountable, and transparent way to manage a critical Internet resource. Just as the Internet is a ‘network of networks’, so its global governance is a set of overlapping organisations with different roles and ways of working.”

Multistakeholder decision-making has proved to be successful for many reasons. Some of which include the fact that decisions on internet governance impact many actors, there are shared obligations across countries, and support for internet governance decisions directly impact its implementation. The Internet is a multistakeholder entity  by definition as it was developed by a group of diverse actors including  public and private sectors, academia, and civil society. Multistakeholders have been able  to capitalize on  the diverse expertise of the  global community and work towards finding the solution for the governance of this essential public good.