Outgoing ICANN CEO revives NetMundial in the Wuzhen Summit

Fadi Chehade delivers a closing address to the Wuzhen conference, having accepted a lead role in its new initiative
Fadi Chehade delivers a closing address to the Wuzhen conference, having accepted a lead role in its new initiative

ICANN’s outgoing CEO has sprung a surprise support for a new Chinese government initiative to expand its view of internet governance.

This came during the last day of the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, the conference organizers unexpectedly announced they had set up a new “high-level advisory committee” that would guide the agenda of future conferences and “contribute ideas for the development of the Internet.”

According to The Register, The committee has already had its first meeting, the organizers stated, naming ICANN’s Fadi Chehade and Alibaba CEO Jack Ma as its founders and noting that it had “invited 31 leading Internet figures from governments, enterprises, academic institutions, and technological communities to be members of the first high-level advisory committee.”

Fadi Chehade is known for the hugely unsuccessful NetMundial Initiative that failed to gather enough support to become a stand alone body. The NetMundial Initiative’s inaugural meeting was postponed twice and while its council members continued to work on its founding documents, the initiative was met with resounding apathy from the broader internet community. Just 30 people responded to a global call for feedback, and a third of those were openly critical.

It was also reported on various online sources that there was a $200K allocation for the NMI.  That “ICANN CEO Chehade told the conference call [MP3] between the organizers of the “NetMundial Initiative” and business organization that each of the three organizers was putting in US$200,000 each for the first year of the initiative – $600,000 in total. Questions  were then asked for the rationale on that spending. The ICANN CEO in his response during the ICANN Board and GAC meeting mentioned above, admitted the NetMundial has nothing to do with ICANN’s core functions.  Then why would ICANN spend public money or allocate any effort to the wished of the CEO’s “Extra-Curricular Activity”.

Last year there were worries that the NetMundial would replace the IGF Forum.

Fadi Chehade said that

NETmundial will not do any more meetings like Sao Paulo.  It is not a meeting forum.  It is a place, a place where people will come after having discussed things. I hope, at the IGF and maybe agree to coalesce and stock building, policy models, solutions, and other things that people can voluntarily consume.  NETmundial is not a binding body in any way.  it is simply a platform, a place to work…”

It is going to be a wait and see situation while the Wuzhen Initiative  designed by the High-Level Advisory Committee (HAC) that Chehade now co-chairs pans out, 2016 is already promising to be interesting in the internet governance circles.





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