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An Equal Seat at the Table: My Journey Into Multi-Stakeholder Internet Governance at ICANN 53

ICANN 53, in beautiful Buenos Aires, was the first time I experienced multi-stakeholder Internet governance (yearn to get back to Argentina!)

Back then, I represented, as chair, the Latin American Forum of Telecommunications Regulators (REGULATEL), an observer org in GAC.

I remember my amazement… I was astounded by an institutional framework and work-culture that not only allowed, but also encouraged individuals and non-governmental entities to lead, at least in a very particular set of global policymaking efforts (within the limited remit of DNS governance). It was a space for international participation that did not pay too much attention to sovereign statehood; an open forum for citizens of non-independent territories, like my country, Puerto Rico. A multi-stakeholder, not multilateral, haven. It was something truly rare, unique, different. Non-independent countries—and people like me from said jurisdictions—with a significant role in the transnational Internet domain name system policy space. An equal seat at the table. Incredible. And I’ve been hooked since.

I quickly learned that multi-stakeholder work meant hundreds of conference calls at all hours, email lists, and meetings all over the planet. But it was worth it. Private and public equal stakeholders of all kinds trying to choose what unites over what divides, striving to put aside prejudices and preconceptions, to listen, understand, agree, and solve common problems. Then, hopefully—and extraordinarily—the deep socialization in this great ritual of participation generates accepted and legitimate transnational rules.

Happy Birthday, ICANN!

For a deeper dive on “Non-sovereign Territories in DNS Governance”, check out my article in the July 2023 edition of theccNSO Newsletter.

This post is part of a series presented by CircleID in collaboration with the ICANN community, celebrating ICANN’s 25th anniversary. We’ve partnered with ICANN to amplify this milestone and actively encourage contributions. We warmly welcome you to share your essays for potential publication.

By Javier Rúa-Jovet, ccNSO Councilor

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