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Multi-stakeholder governance models are based on a dialectic exercise involving natural and legal persons that might be affected by the adoption of a specific norm or policy. The association of different stakeholders in a collaborative governance process is indeed aimed at fostering a better-advised decision-making process, based on the negotiation of consensual solutions.
Multi-stakeholder models are usually aimed at organising cooperative processes amongst a plurality of heterogeneous subjects, deemed as legitimate by virtue of their authority, resource-based power, or discursive legitimacy. Stakeholders are considered as enjoying authority when they have the power to set and enforce specific rules; they are deemed as holding resource-based power when they are effectively able to wield influence on other subjects by reason of their financial and technological resources or because of their capabilities and knowledge; they are believed to have discursive legitimacy when they represent – and act on behalf of – a certain set of societal values or norms.
The aforementioned criteria become fuzzier when immersed in the Internet governance environment. Indeed, such criteria do not represent access conditions for stakeholder participation in Internet governance processes that, on the contrary, are frequently built upon a single overreaching principle: inclusion.
A Multistakeholder Internet Governance
In the internet governance arena, the promotion of a multi-stakeholder model has resulted from the historical evolution of the internet. Indeed, the Internet is a global network whose logic, physic and content layers are intimately intertwined but managed by different entities. The technical community has directly crafted the architecture of the Internet, by elaborating the standards and protocols which have defined the its logic structure since its very inception; the private sector has been managing and the physical infrastructure of the network; whilst the public actors have been striving to provide law and order into the virtual world, occasionally juxtaposing their national sovereignty.
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