Multi-stakeholder governance can be defined as a multi-actor approach to internet governance. The concept of multi-stakeholder governance came into existence as countries and multinational corporations grappled with the concept of the governance of the internet. How the internet should be governed and even if internet governance should occur has, in recent years, been a topic of fierce debate. However, multi-stakeholder governance has emerged to a solution to the issue. In our increasingly globalized and interconnected world, multi-stakeholder internet governance is more relevant than ever before.
As explored in class, the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is one means in which the strategy of multi-stakeholder governance is utilized. As explained on its homepage, the IGF is a, “Multi-stakeholder platform that facilitates the discussion of public policy issues pertaining to the internet.” The IGF, hosted by the United Nation Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), plans to will meet December 6th– 9th of this year in Jalisoc, Mexico. One group that participates in the IGF is the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). ICANN is often presented as an experiment in international governance. ICANN is interesting because it prescribes to international regime theory. That is, it believes that there are actors other than states that can influence international relations. While ICANN does contain a Government Advisory Committee (GAC), it is only a small part of the group and not a major actor. Strategies such as those implemented by ICANN and the IGF have become increasingly important as different entities vie for control over different aspects of the internet.
There are also many outside conferences that have sought to establish multi-stakeholder governance on the internet. The NETmundial conference, which met on April 32nd and 24th of 2014 in São Paulo, Brazil, explored the idea of multi-stakeholder governance. In fact, the NETmundial conference website describes the conferences as a, “Global Multi-stakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance.” The meeting, which was organized by CGI and Dilma Rousseff, established a tentative framework for multi-stakeholder governance.
I believe that internet governance will continue to be an issue for many years to come. As the internet expands and permeates many different aspects of our lives, questions about who should govern the internet and how the internet should be governed should be governed will continue to become increasingly pertinent. By addressing this issue now, the international community can avoid some undue tensions in the future.