[AfrICANN-discuss] ICANN Constituency Improvements: GNSO

Anne-Rachel Inné annerachel at gmail.com
Sat Feb 9 10:18:45 SAST 2008


GNSO Improvements

    * Summary of the Report of the Board Governance Committee GNSO Review
Working Group on GNSO Improvements, 3 February 2008 [PDF, 16K]
    * Report of the Board Governance Committee GNSO Review Working Group on
GNSO Improvements, 3 February 2008 [PDF, 195K]
    * Report Annexes

On 30 March 2007, the Board created a working group of the Board Governance
Committee ("BGC"), comprising current and former Board members, to oversee
improvements to the Generic Names Supporting  Organization (GNSO). [Its
members are Roberto Gaetano (Chair), Rita Rodin, Vanda Scartezini, Tricia
Drakes, Raimundo Beca, Susan Crawford, and Vittorio Bertola.] The purpose of
the "BGC GNSO Review Working Group" ("BGC WG") is to consider the
independent reviews conducted by the London School of Economics Public
Policy Group and others to determine whether, in general, the GNSO has a
continuing purpose in the ICANN structure and, if so, whether any change in
structure or operations is desirable to improve its effectiveness. The Board
charged the BGC WG with recommending a comprehensive proposal to improve the
effectiveness of the GNSO, including its policy activities, structure,
operations and communications.

This effort is part of ICANN's ongoing commitment to its evolution and
improvement, which includes a comprehensive schedule for independent review
of ICANN's structures, as well as of the Board. The reviews are intended to
ensure an independent examination of the role and operation of key elements
of ICANN. These reviews are conducted in an objective manner by independent
evaluators, under guidance from the Board on each review's terms of
reference, and with the opportunity for public comment on the results of the

The GNSO Improvements Report (Report) linked here [PDF, 195K] and summarized
below reflects the BGC WG's examination of many aspects of the GNSO's
functioning, including the use of working groups and the overall policy
development process (PDP), and the structure of the GNSO Council and its
constituencies. The Working Group has been guided by several key objectives,

    * Maximizing the ability for all interested stakeholders to participate
in the GNSO's processes;
    * Ensuring recommendations can be developed on gTLD "consensus policies"
for Board review, and that the subject matter of "consensus policies" is
clearly defined;
    * Ensuring policy development processes are based on
thoroughly-researched, well-scoped objectives, and are run in a predictable
manner that yields results that can be implemented effectively; and
    * Improving communications and administrative support for GNSO

Above all, the Working Group has sought ways to improve inclusiveness and
representativeness in the GNSO's work, while increasing its effectiveness
and efficiency. The BGC WG's deliberations have achieved consensus on a
comprehensive set of recommendations that addresses five main areas outlined

Summary of GNSO Improvements Report

Adopting a Working Group Model: A working group model should become the
focal point for policy development and enhance the policy development
process by making it more inclusive and representative, and – ultimately –
more effective and efficient. This approach can be a more constructive way
of establishing areas of agreement than task forces, where membership is
limited and discussion can become polarized along constituency lines. It
also enables key parties to become involved in the beginning and work
together to address complex or controversial issues. Appointing skilled
chairs and drafters, as well as proper scoping of the WG's objectives, will
be integral parts of development of a successful model. Steps should be
taken immediately to move to a working group model for future policy
development work, developing appropriate operating principles, rules and
procedures that can draw upon expertise gained from policy development in
the IETF, W3C, RIRs and other organizations.

Revising the PDP: The PDP needs to be revised to make it more effective and
responsive to ICANN's policy development needs. It should be brought in-line
with the time and effort actually required to develop policy, and made
consistent with ICANN's existing contracts (including, but not limited to,
clarifying the appropriate scope of GNSO "consensus policy"
development). While the procedure for developing "consensus policies"
will need to continue to be established by the Bylaws as long as required by
ICANN's contracts, the GNSO Council and Staff should propose new PDP rules
for the Board's consideration and approval that contain more flexibility.
The new rules should emphasize the importance of the preparation that must
be done before launch of a working group or other activity, such as public
discussion, fact-finding, and expert research in order to define properly
the scope, objective and schedule for a specific policy development goal,
and the development of metrics for measuring success.

Restructuring the GNSO Council: The Council should move away from being a
legislative body concerned primarily with voting towards becoming a smaller,
more focused strategic entity, composed of four broad stakeholder groups,
with strengthened management and oversight of the policy development
process, term limits for members of the Council, the elimination of weighted
voting and a training and development curriculum for Council members. The
BGC WG deliberated extensively as to the most appropriate way to restructure
constituency representation on the Council. We recommend a 19-person Council
consisting of 16 elected members, four from each of four stakeholder groups,
with two of these groups representing those parties "under contract" with
ICANN, namely registries (4 seats) and registrars (4 seats). These we refer
to as "ICANN contracted parties." The other two stakeholder groups will
represent those who are "affected by the contracts" ("ICANN non-contracted
parties"), including commercial registrants (4 seats) and non-commercial
registrants (4 seats). In addition, three Councilors would be appointed by
the Nominating Committee (pending conclusion of the NomCom Improvement
process). In addition, as the Council moves from being a legislative body to
a strategic manager overseeing policy development, the current emphasis on
formal voting should be significantly reduced.

A minority of Working Group members suggests explicitly recommending that
"ICANN non-contracted parties" be apportioned into 5 seats for commercial
registrants and 3 seats for non-commercial registrants.

An additional minority view suggests -- as stated in the Working Group's
previous report -- that the GNSO Council should have the flexibility to
propose an alternative configuration of the stakeholder groups that comprise
the "ICANN non-contracted parties" side, provided that such alternative is
submitted with sufficient notice to permit the Board to vote on the proposal
at the Paris ICANN meeting in June 2008.
Conversely, if no alternative proposal is forwarded to the Board within this
timeframe, the configuration proposed above should be implemented.

Enhancing Constituencies: Constituency procedures and operations should
become more transparent, accountable and accessible. The Board should ask
the GNSO constituencies to work with staff to develop participation rules
and operating procedures for all constituencies that set certain minimum
standards regarding the importance of transparency and accountability. The
criteria for participation in any ICANN constituency should be objective,
standardized and clearly stated. In addition, Staff should work with each of
the constituencies to develop global, targeted outreach programs aimed at
increasing participation and interest in the GNSO policy process, including
information on the option to self-form new constituencies.

Improving Communication and Coordination with ICANN Structures: There should
be more frequent contact and communication between the GNSO Council, GNSO
constituencies and the members the Council elects to the Board, and among
the Chairs of the GNSO, other Supporting Organizations
(SOs) and Advisory Committees (ACs), especially in advance of each ICANN
Meeting. The Council and the GNSO constituencies should consider additional
ways in which the GNSO can further improve communication, cooperation and
coordination with other ICANN structures.

The Report describes our recommendations and rationale in detail. We believe
there is broad and strong support for changes in the functioning of the
GNSO, based on input from GNSO participants and other members of the ICANN
community. While the need to update and improve the GNSO is not disputed,
there is no magical set of proposals that could be received without
controversy or opposition. We have therefore balanced, as best we can,
different – and sometimes competing – interests in order to formulate
recommendations on the basis of what we believe can benefit the ICANN
community as a whole. The GNSO improvements process is evolutionary and is
intended to reflect the importance of the GNSO to ICANN and to build upon
the GNSO's successes to-date.

Next Steps:

This report has been submitted to the full Board Governance Committee
(BGC) for its consideration, and is being posted for public information.
If approved by the BGC, this report will be submitted for Board action after
a public comment period. If approved by the Board, staff will be directed to
develop an implementation plan in consultation with the community.

As the community and the Board consider the proposals outlined in the
Report, it is important to keep in mind that this is an evolutionary process
intended to reflect the importance of the GNSO to ICANN and to build upon
the GNSO's successes to date.

Background Documents
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