What is civil society and who represents civil society at the IGF? An analysis of civil society typologies in Internet governance

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Abstract

For 15 years, the UN-mandated Internet Governance Forum (IGF) has brought different stakeholder groups together to engage in debate and discussion on public policy issues relevant to Internet Governance, but who are the ‘civil society’ that is treated as one of the cornerstones of the IGF? This paper aims to provide two contributions to discussions on norm entrepreneurship in internet governance. First, it aims to contribute to the growing body of literature on multistakeholderism, notably by furthering debates on the role of civil society in institutions of global governance (in this instance, the IGF). Second, we aim to contribute to the debates on the future of the IGF(+), by digging into the civil society stakeholder group to try to understand who is actually present in the discussions. By creating a typology of the 2830 Civil Society Organisations that have participated in IGFs between 2006 and 2019, we provide nuance to the heterogeneity of civil society in Internet Governance debates. This exploratory study has shown that there is a hidden wealth available in the statistics of the IGF that can inform our policymaking capacity in terms of topics, representation but also providing access and ensuring outreach to specific communities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102141
Number of pages16
JournalTelecommunications Policy
Volume45
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Apr 2021

Keywords

  • civil society
  • representation
  • civil society framework
  • purpose-driven typology
  • internet governance forum

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