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[AfriNIC-rpd] Comments about AFPUB-2010-GEN-005

sm+afrinic at sm+afrinic at
Fri Dec 24 11:23:06 UTC 2010

Hi Walu,
At 00:41 24-12-10, Walubengo J wrote:
>my earlier undestanding behind the need to have 2chairs for the PDP 
>was that they could act as "alternate" to avoid the occurence of "no 
>chair" present as it happened in Afrinic-11 in Senegal.

If we have one Chair and the person is not present at the meeting, 
it's a problem.  Having two Chairs reduces the likelihood of that 
happening.  According the PDP used for AfriNIC-11, there were three 
members.  The three members were absent.  This has been addressed by 
leaving it to the PDWG to select a Chair for the meeting.

The selection of the Chairs is staggered to allow for continuity.  As 
one of the Chairs is around for a year, he or she has followed the 
discussions about the proposals and can provide input to the new Chair.

There isn't an alternate; the Chairs have equal standing.  That is 
why they are called co-Chairs.  It is good if the Chair with less 
experience gets hands-on experience of the process.  The other Chair 
can help out if the need arises.

>However, during the last policy meeting in SA (Afrinic-13), it 
>occured to me that BOTH Chairs are actually expected to be present 
>and managing the Policy discussion - thus creating a real potential 
>for deadlocks (as Dr. Paulos describes here).

Both Chairs do not have to be present.  One of the Chairs is enough 
to manage the policy discussions.  If one of the Chairs is the author 
of a proposal under discussion, the other Chair can take over.

Several proposals were discussed at the AfriNIC-13 Public Policy 
Meeting.  Alan and I had a quick discussion during the ten minutes 
break about how to proceed.  We decided on which proposal each of us 
would handle.  It was more about coordination.  You may have noticed 
that both Alan and I commented as individuals during the meeting.  We 
spoke from the floor so that it was clear that we were not speaking 
as Chairs then.  As our views are public, the community can assess 
whether we were biased when we had to take a decision.

If I had any strong concerns about a proposal, I would have left it 
to Alan to take the decision.  It is up to the community to decide 
whether either of the Chairs acted fairly.  If the community has an 
concerns about that, they can take action against the Chair.

It wasn't easy to make a determination of consensus on some of the 
proposals.  It is sometimes a quick decision while we have to 
identify and clarify the points of agreement and disagreement.  In 
simple terms, it's not a vote about a proposal.

Alan and I did not take a vote to come to a decision.  It was more 
like "what do you think?" or "I think that everybody got to voice out 
their views and we can make a determination on this one".  As far as 
I recall, we did not disagree with each other.

>One quick way to resolve the potential for deadlocks while 
>simultaneously eliminating the potential for "absent chair" is to 
>designate a "lead" Chair for each Policy meeting on a rotational 
>basis. Since we have 2 policy meetings per year, and 2 chairs, the 
>lead chair in a previous policy meeting becomes the secondary chair 
>in the subsequent meeting and both act as Backup for each other i.e. 
>in the event a lead chair cant make it for the meeting the secondary 
>chair simply takes over. Also this means that the lead chair for 
>that period/session has the final say - in the event of conflict or 
>need to break a tie (within the Chairmanship).

Having a lead chair to have a final say or using an odd number to 
break a tie is only useful when decisions are taken through a 
vote.  If two-thirds of the people in a group support a proposal and 
one third of them object, it is difficult to say that there is 
consensus.  If there isn't consensus between the Chairs, is it likely 
that there is consensus in the group?

My view is that the Chair is there to fulfill an administrative 
function and not about who gets to be "lead" Chair.  I prefer if it 
is the community that has the final say.  If you walk out of a 
meeting with a sense that the same decision would have been reached 
if any other person in the group was Chair, it means that the Chair 
took the right decision.

S. Moonesamy 

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