• atsfi some points around isf reference documents

last modified November 27, 2016 by pierre

A discussion started around the message of someone announcing intention to “submit” “ISF working paper1” in UN  related processes (which is distinct from another intention of registering  an "ISF promotion workshop" in events such as WSIS). Three issues are emerging in the opinions expressed.

  • What is the linkage between ISF and WSF process ?, 
  • How will ISF process be progressively defined through ISF reference documents? 
  • Which  relevant practices can ease the “submission” of papers related to ISF in various consultative and normative process es, UN related or not, around the Internet that ISF participants are involved in?

Here are some inputs, placed in a hopefully logical sequence of 5 paragraphs , on those 3 issues.


1/ Positioning of ISF process inside WSF process seems unambiguous, when reading its website, and reading in the ISF website, the call for ISF, a first reference document for ISF which make numerous references to WSF process, and the organization registration page in the website, whose first item reads as : "Our organization publicly considers itself a participant in WSF process as described in this charter". So ISF participants to date are formally considering themselves are WSF process participants?

What is open for progressive definition is "how ISF process is going to be built inside this wider WSF process, through the drafting of reference documents" (see 2), hence in alleged coherence with the charter of principles, and taking in consideration somehow the guiding principles to organize a WSF event, and its own specificities (see for example paragraph 3)


2/ A growing corpus of ISF reference documents will be shaping progressively the form of ISF process, forms of participation and forms of facilitation, and precise a global ideological positioning, already well documented with the first 3 reference documents.

 ISF working paper 1 “Internet Social Forum: Why the Future of the Internet Needs Social Justice Movements” has been drafted and is considered validated as one of the first 3 ISF reference document, along with the Call for ISF, and the Tunis declaration.

Drafting and validating of other such reference /working documents is an act of legitmate “facilitation-organization” of ISF process, and the word "facilitation-organisation"  needs to be commented further in an other  discussion being understood that it is good to organize in such a way that ISF participants who want it can also get involved as facilitators-organizers of ISF process, in a variety of ways.
The protocols used for doing so , what, who, how  are not stabilized inside a growing ISF participant community, and may evolve in time,  since we are just at the beginning of ISF process.

The purpose of this accumulative corpus of documents, can be defined as  to explain the ISF process, convey the way one can participate and connect with others in it, and make it attractive and clear to use, as a strategic counter-hegemonic tool to many participants organizations and individuals.

The reference documents are focused on the "how and why participate in ISF process", with focus on the ways and forms, and they  would be drafted in a facilitating effort, by specific facilitating groups. They are not meant  to be  "drafted by ISF" , “actorizing ISF” In this respect the notion of "ISF working paper " maybe is ambiguous.
Documents on the "what"  going beyond the general ideological positionning of ISF process are most welcome as participation documents issued by participant groups

There is no "ISF group" behaving as a "all purpose people’s internet thematic think tank", producing content on the what . Such think tanks, involving specific organizations already exist  and new ones distinct from ISF facilitating groups may take shape as an effect of ISF process. 

Of course these reference documents are meant to be used extensively and freely by active ISF participants/ facilitators for outreaching and building ISF process on all kinds of occasions with certain precautions ( see for example 5) 


3/ Several participants in ISF “early participants” list are actively involved, in personal or organizational capacity, with Internet related international consultative or normative processes. This is probably in connection with their long standing involvement for a people’s internet and the nature of internet governance. Hence they may want to promote the good news of emergence of ISF in those processes, where “submitting a paper” is an established way to "proceed". This is  however different than simply organizing ISF promoting workshops in civil society expression spaces that may be  granted by such processes.


4/There is no established “protocol” in WSF process about “submitting” WSF reference papers WSF in specific international consultation processes exterior to WSF process, such as those mentioned in 3, because the issue never arose to my knowledge. The issue arises because of the internet thematic context mentioned in 3, and there is, among some ISF participants, in conformance with point 1 above , a general concern about  avoiding formal or unformal practices which may be perceived as "speaking in the name of ISF”, or “actorizing ISF”.


5/ Hence the idea of suggesting the following “practice” for the situations described in 3: to “submit” in  UN or other instances consultative processes in the name of specific organizations, documents where those organizations speak in they own name about ISF, and quote or annex ISF reference documents mentioned in 2, and  not to submit directly those ISF reference documents. 

This practice is simple and would dispense of asking permission (to who?) to submit document to any kind of body outside ISF. It would be also helping to clarify which organization is speaking in those processes, and avoid the spreading of latent/spontaneous possible interpretation of “submission” as a kind of  “representation” of ISF, either among the participants in ISF, or among interlocutors of those, involved in the consultative normative processes mentioned in 3. 

This suggested practice may look formalistic, however, experience shows that the culture of representation and “actorization” is entrenched, while social forums are meant as horizontal spaces or tools, where “other practices for another possible world” hopefully develop.

So this simple "submission" practice may help as a self-vigilance, as is also helpful the individual "expressive" practice of being cautious to avoid using the word “ISF” as subject of an action verb , when expressing about ISF, especially in written form.