19 May 2021
Group of stakeholders discussing in a meeting room

The Internet has, for most of its existence, been governed globally under a multi-stakeholder model. Inspired by auDA CEO Rosemary Sinclair AM's speech at the latest Associate Member event, we take a look at how this approach works in reality and what it means for .au. 

What is multi-stakeholder governance?
Multi-stakeholder governance has been defined as the bringing together of global actors who each have a stake in the issue to work collaboratively to solve the issue. This approach differs from the multi-lateral approach epitomised by the United Nations (UN), where government chosen representatives from each member nation come together to solve matters of international governance. In multi-stakeholder models of governance there are a limitless number of stakeholders rather than designated representatives involved in discussions and decision making. 

How does multi-stakeholder governance work with the Internet?
There are many multi-stakeholder bodies involved in the operation of the Internet. One of the key decision-making bodies is ICANN, which coordinates the global Domain Name System. ICANN was set up in 1998 under a US Government commitment to have internet policy and technical management coordinated by a non-profit corporation that ensured global participation. This objective allows the governance of the internet to reflect the needs and interests of governments, industry, technical communities and civil societies globally. As the Internet Society mentions, “The Internet’s governance reflects the Internet itself: open, distributed, interconnected and transnational.”

The multi-stakeholder approach has also been adopted by the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), a discussion forum established by the UN in 2006. Rather than take the UN’s multi-lateral governance approach, the forum is mandated to take a multi-stakeholder approach. This approach is illustrated by the way key issues are chosen for discussion by having bottom-up, open online consultations where anyone from around the world can submit an issue important to them.

Multi-stakeholder governance and .au
.au’s stake in the governance of the Internet is represented by auDA. As stated in their blog, auDA believes that multi-stakeholder governance should be championed by all to maintain the benefits the Internet provides users. auDA is supported in this vision by the Australian government in its commitment to maintain multi-stakeholder Internet governance. In this way, we can be assured that as the world becomes more interconnected via the Internet, Australia’s voice can be heard alongside our peers in keeping the Internet open, free, and secure. At Afilias, we are proud to work alongside auDA to support this approach.

Have a question, comment or idea for a future blog post? Email us at blog@afilias.com.au today.