Legitimacy as a Driver of the Competition between Institutions of Internet Governance

La Chaire Recherche

Auteur(s) Eric BROUSSEAU
Type de publication Working paper

This chapter considers the history and debates around Internet governance in an attempt to explain how multistakeholderism - embodied in the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) - substituted the multilateral model of governance that prevailed in the pre-Internet era under the auspices of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). The extent to which the outcome of the confrontation between ICANN and ITU reflects the superiority of multistakeholderism over multilateralism is discussed in detail. Both organizations’ development paths and histories are assessed to understand the circumstances which led the US government to propose an alternative to an intergovernmental organization, which was then supported by a large coalition of players. The current limits of the regime that now governs the Internet is also reviewed, while its open-ended character is highlighted. Finally, an analysis is offered of the game of legitimacy establishment that has been played, and how ICANN, to date, has remained ahead.

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