Deconstructing An Experiment In Global Internet Governance: The ICANN Case by Slavka Antonova

Abstract: The model of a global multistakeholder collaboration in Internet domain-name system management, as developed by U.S. government in 1998 and embedded in the ICANN, held all the promises of a paradigm shift in global governance. Seven years later, the UN World Summit on the Information Society in Tunisia (November 2005) adopted some of the vocabulary of the ICANN experiment and recognized the multistakeholder collaboration as a key organizational principle in global Internet governance. Yet, it reestablished the leading role of national governments and intergovernmental organizations, such as the ITU, in the regulation of the global Internet.This paper examines what was lost during the four years of experimenting with “multistakeholderism” in ICANN and what the stakes of the parties that influenced the policymaking process the most were. Building on Governmentality Studies’ understanding of the neo-liberal project of self-governance and Organization Studies’ collaboration theory, the document and discourse analysis of ICANN’s practices deconstructs the original model of a collaborative policymaking process conducted by a private multistakeholder corporation and formulates the expectations, stakes and strategies of the participating parties. Thus, it is suggested in the paper that, because the Internet technical elite was granted the managerial role in ICANN, the experts were able to influence the agenda of the policymaking process and its pace, and ultimately to take over the policy-proposal accumulation task and eliminate the working groups, which were open to all participants.It is concluded in the paper that, with the globalization of Internet, a cluster of new players entered the field, such as the developing countries governments, and, in the UN WSIS setting, the concerns of “protecting the public interest” reconnected with the familiar international arrangements.To read this paper in full, see

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