Structural Power in Internet Governance. Enabling and Constraining Effects of the Institutionalization of NGO Participation at the WSIS

21 Pages Posted: 21 Jun 2016

Date Written: November 2007

Abstract

This paper gives way to a more sceptical assessment of the multi-stakeholder process of the UN World Summit on the Information Society (2003-2005) and the Working Group on Internet Governance (2004-2005). It questions the mostly positive outlook on the effects of the institutionalization of NGO participation and their ability to exert influence within the international negotiations. I argue that institutionalization had suboptimal effects and constrained the possibilities for NGOs to actively participate in the negotiations in the following ways: assigning them adversarial positions in comparison to state actors; shaping their identities; sacrificing external transparency; and failing to formalize the observers’ participation rights. Finally I argue that these observations show structural power at work in the analyzed governance processes. Hence, a structural power concept, as compared to prevalent agency-centred power concepts, can capture the ambiguous effects of the institutionalization of NGO participation.

Keywords: GigaNet

Suggested Citation

Dany, Charlotte, Structural Power in Internet Governance. Enabling and Constraining Effects of the Institutionalization of NGO Participation at the WSIS (November 2007). GigaNet: Global Internet Governance Academic Network, Annual Symposium 2007, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2798300 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2798300

Charlotte Dany (Contact Author)

University of Bremen ( email )

Universitaetsallee GW I
Bremen, D-28334
Germany

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