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Notes:


So how is the ideal of multi-stakeholder policy development achieved in practice? It is not just a question of sitting representatives of each stakeholder group together in a room and waiting for it to happen. Neither does it mean that if governments can't take the lead, civil society should, because while civil society contributes to the legitimacy of the governance process through the substantive values that it represents, and the private sector also contributes the value of market efficiency, they are no more legitimate in their own right than governments are.

Rather, the stakeholders must truly collaborate, and the IGF's structure and procedures must actively facilitate this if it is to be effective. This is not a new problem, and there are mature tools and techniques out there to address it, many of which were developed in the context of the deliberative democracy movement. Deliberative democracy, like cosmopolitan democracy, downplays the function of representation and emphasises the importance of opinion formation, aiming towards the formation of a rational consensus.

But multi-stakeholder policy development is not just a theoretical ideal, like an anarchist or socialist utopia; it is actually happening now. The London Action Plan is one example I've given of a multi-stakeholder governance network devoted to the issue of spam, which includes signatories from executive agencies of twenty countries, and nine private sector signatories. ICANN is also attempting to do a similar thing, involving different stakeholder groups in governance of the DNS system through its various advisory committees.

Now, doubtless, public policy development through a governance network that includes all stakeholder groups will not always work. But it doesn't have to, as the other mechanisms of governance are not going away. Governance by rules, such as domestic legislation, will always remain an option. So will governance by the mechanisms of norms, markets and architecture, which have worked well enough for the Internet so far to bring it where it is today. So the IGF does not have to succeed, but if it doesn't even try, then we are wasting our time here.