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A day in the life of the Icann empowered community

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A couple of short stories to illustrate the accountability enhancements.

As the Buenos Aires meeting gets closer, the IANA Stewardship transition is once again going to dominate the debates. As is perfectly natural in times of change, many concerns will be raised about complexity, and unintended consequences. This blog post is an attempt to provide some concrete illustration of what Icann would look like under the Accountability framework proposed by the cross community working group on enhancing Icann’s Accountability. These short stories are intended to illustrate how some of the interim proposals would play out. It is focused on aspects of the proposals which are currently raising questions or concerns. It does not constitute a formal group proposal, nor represents the group’s view on a preferred implementation path.

To get a more formal description of the proposals you can check these videos describing the accountability framework:

And, yes, the tone is deliberately light, to facilitate reading and engage more readers. Apologies if it does not read as the usual working group report. Any resemblance to real persons or situations within Icann would be purely coincidental.

Please share your comments or feedbacks either directly or during Icann 53.


Wednesday 10 March 2016, Marrakech, Morocco.

The streets of Marrakech are already buzzing with the preparations of the party. Tonight’s Icann gala dinner will be a special one, since the community is invited to gather on the famous Jemaa el-Fna square, which has been privatized for Fadi Chehade’s farewell party. As the afternoon turns into evening, the main Icann crowd is already leaving the dark meeting rooms to prepare for the event (or go for a drink, or probably both).

Jemaa el-Fna square
Meanwhile, each SO or AC is painfully or smoothly exhausting item after item of their council meetings (or equivalent), and reaching similar proposed motions and resolutions. One after the other, in each room of the large, labyrinth-like conference center, approve a resolution requesting their Chair and vice Chairs, or sometimes their whole councils, to fill a one page form in order to register an unincorporated association in the State of California.

The articles of these Associations are also one pagers and state very simply that ;
The governing structures and principles of this association, and all other matters affecting its organization and operation, including but not limited to determining who has the authority to officially act on behalf of this association and how such authority shall be evidenced, and the process for amending these Articles, shall be prescribed under the Icann Bylaws or other rules established by [NAME of SO/AC] pursuant to the Icann Bylaws.

The most contentious topics have eventually been solved during the week, after a specific cross community working group was set up to that effect. The Board agreed to pay the 10 US$ filing fee for each SO/AC, by deducting the amount from the Icann auctions special reserve. And independent legal counsel agreed to waive fees for formally submitting the registration in California (much concern was raised when the idea of requesting this formality to Icann staff was brought forward).

In a week’s time, these new, subordinate associations will have legal existence. Everything will be ready for the approval of the new Icann membership structure during Icann 56 in June.

Thomas Rickert, co chair of the CCWG Accountability, declared: “That’s one small step for the community, one giant leap for accountability”, as his fellow co chairs Leon Felipe Sanchez and Mathieu Weill nodded “we couldn’t agree more!”, and made their way to the Party…

Transcript from the ccNSO council, ICANN 66, Singapore, 8th November 2019

Chair: […] Thank you for these useful updates, it is useful to note that the Internet governance is facing more and more changes and challenges. Let us now turn to the last point of our agenda, item 19, which deals with the update and directions related to the country code unincorporated association (ccUA).

As Chair of the ccNSO, I am also Officer of the ccUA and would like to start with a report on outstanding items since we last met, during Icann 65, in Buenos Aires, as we usually do in June. During that meeting, the Council directed the ccUA to initiate an objection procedure against the decision of the Icann Board to approve the FY2020 Budget. Giovanni, as chair of the strategy and operational planning working group, can you please give us an update?

Giovanni Seppia:
Thank you Chair, dear colleagues. You will recall that the grounds for such an objection were related to the continuing failure from Icann to provide KPIs and concrete goals as part of the plan. Such a request from the SOP dates back to 2010. As chair of our strategy and operational planning working group I had offered my  resignation out of frustration, and accepted to keep the group running until we find a replacement.

Unfortunately, despite our 5 votes on the Empowered Community Body, our motion did not achieve the necessary threshold of 66% of votes. The motion was supported by 12 votes out of 29. I believe, however, our message was heard loud and clear. The Board has since then set up a KPI committee which is working closely with representatives of SO/ACs, including myself, to address our concerns.

Thank you Giovanni, and I think you have never been so close to achieving this quest towards a more accountable budget!

After this update, I would now like to address another topic which we have to consider during this meeting, and which has been intensely discussed during this Icann meeting, which is the proposed bylaw change regarding International representation within the Icann Board. For that item, I will ask Becky Burr to provide the context.

Becky Burr:
Thank you Chair. The Board has initiated a Bylaw change process regarding the provisions of the Bylaws that state:  “at all times no region shall have more than five Directors on the Board”. The intention is to change the maximum of five into six. This proposed change was considered after a regular review pointed out how difficult it was to find good and suitable candidates outside of the Latin American region. As usual, the Board conducted a public consultation but it only drew a very limited number of comments, due to the fact that the community was at the time focusing on the discussions regarding the 2nd round Draft Applicant Guidebook version 97. Nonetheless, the Board moved on and the proposed Bylaw Change has been approved a few days before Icann 66 started.

Discussions during this meeting in Singapore have demonstrated significant pushback from the community, especially from ALAC and the gNSO, whose views are very similar as usual. Since this Bylaw change was approved by the Board, our Council should decide whether :

– to direct the ccUA to OBJECT to the change
– in such a case, or if another SO or AC objected, how to cast the ccUA votes in the empowered community body decision.

During the dedicated session we held yesterday with the ccTLD community, there appeared to be broad consensus to object to this Bylaw change. The proposed resolution is, as a consequence, to direct the ccUA to object to this Bylaw change and cast the 5 ccUA votes against the bylaw change when the community body is called for a vote.

Thank you very much Becky. I am now opening for discussion. Any comments? … Seeing none, are there any objections to the approval of the recommendation? Any abstention? The resolution is approved.

With that, I’d like to bring this meeting to a close. I’d like to warmly thank our secretariat, […]