International Wisdom Task Force

Current draft

Current draft in pdf format

The “International Wisdom Task Force” is a proposed new kind of international policy space for norms building, developing policy frameworks, and global coordination of national and regional level policies.

This proposal suggests to build a democratic framework for addressing global problems on the basis of national democratic decision making processes as its basic building blocks, with the addition of a logic-based international multistakeholder discourse which creates coordinated proposals for consideration by national parliaments.

In this proposal, open-participation consensus-seeking processes are applied to the challenges of developing global public policy, without overlooking the fact that it is not always possible to reach consensus. How this can be done is based on how these kinds of processes work in the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).

In the IETF context, I would distinguish two very similar kinds of mechanisms for developing the technical analogue of global public policy:

On one hand, there are processes of developing RFCs which represent a very broad consensus. RFC 1123 “Requirements for Internet Hosts” is by now a bit outdated in some ways, but it was at its time a very good example of an effective global policy. It was effective because it was possible to informally enforce its requirements through mechanisms of peer pressure.

On the other hand, there are matters on which competing technical protocols are developed in parallel, each with its own consensus process. There is a bit of cross-coordination going on to ensure that the different technical mechanisms can be used in parallel on the same Internet, but the questions on which no consensus is reached are addressed by having different technical solutions in different RFCs and ultimately it's corporations which (through internal processes of their own) make the decision to adopt one or the other solution, or both (sometimes it makes sense technically to adopt one of the competing mechanisms for one purpose and at the same time also a different mechanism for another purpose.)

What I'm proposing is that essentially the same kind of open-participation global processes which take place in IETF are fine also for matters of public policy, provided that whenever the output of that set of processes consists of a set of competing proposals, the resulting burden of choice is addressed by national parliaments. I'm essentially suggesting that for public policy matters (as opposed to purely technical matters where the disagreements are about questions of technical nature, i.e. “what is technically a better solution?”, rather than about different views on what is an appropriate public policy choice) we must replace corporations with parliaments in the “who makes the choice which standard to adopt, when there is a choice between competing standards” slot, which is where the real power is. I'm also suggesting that corresponding to the existence of national parliaments, the national level is the appropriate level for taking public policy decisions in the absence of consensus.