ICANN Adopts the Nomcom Approach of Governance



Prior to the Bucharest meeting of ICANN, intense debate had been initiated about the process by which the ICANN board was to be constituted and funded. There were indications that external pressures were being mounted on ICANN  to change the  managerial structure of the organization.

Prior to these debates, ICANN was being developed as a "Model" institution which respected participation of the stake holders in a democratic manner. It tried to promote "Bottoms Up" policy in decision making striving for consensus through extensive consultations. In order to provide representation for the Netizens in the Board, ICANN even designed an election process in 2001, in which around 143,806 were registered as voters. Of these 76,183 persons were validated with physical existence and finally 34,035 of them cast their votes to elect their 5 representatives to the Board one from each of the 5 continents.

The Board of  ICANN consisted at this point 19 members including 3 directors each from the three supporting organizations, namely DNSO, ASO, PSO, and the President / CEO.

In the run up before the Bucharest meeting, in a well orchestrated maneuvere, the participation of the public in the ICANN Board has been marginalized.

Firstly, the Board constituted an Evolution Reforms Committee (ERC) on 15th November 2001, consisting of four members namely Alejandro Pisanty (chair), Lyman Chapin, Hans Kraaijenbrink, and Nii Quaynor to suggest the board on the required reforms.

On 24 February 2002, ICANN President Stuart Lynn issued a report entitled "ICANN–the Case for Reform", which discussed the mission ICANN was attempting to achieve, reviewed the performance of the existing processes and structure of ICANN in relation to that mission, and concluded that those processes and structures would not permit ICANN to achieve its mission (as then understood), and recommended significant evolutionary reforms.

In the meantime, based on the recommendations of the "At Large Study Committee", several At Large representative organizations were enrolled on a voluntary basis (naavi.org / Cyber Law Solutions Ltd is also one of them) as indirect representatives of the Netizen community to form an At large Structure that can build Netizen participation into the system. This was in the process of initial development when the Bucharest meeting intervened.

Apparently acting as a follow up of the President's report, ERC developed a "Blue Print for reforms" just before the Bucharest meeting, ostensibly based on public consultations. During the Bucharest meeting, the ICANN board endorsed the blue print and adopted it as  resolution no 02.75.

A resolution [02.76]  was also adopted that the Evolution and Reform Committee (ERC) would  oversee further detailed implementation and transition work based on the Blueprint for Reform, with the continued involvement and participation of the ICANN community, to report to the Board at its next telephonic meeting as to its progress and schedule, and to provide its implementation recommendations to the Board and the community sufficiently prior to the Shanghai meeting (October 2002)  so that the Board can take action at that meeting;

The present suggestion on the composition of the ICANN Board as adopted by the Bucharest meeting can be summarised as follows:

The Board will be composed of 15 voting Directors. Additionally there shall be 5 non-voting Liaisons as specified below who may participate in Board discussions and deliberations like Directors but shall not cast votes (and as such, do not count towards quorum counts of the Board)

The 15 voting Directors shall be selected as follows:

  • 8 Directors selected by the Nominating Committee (NomCom)

  • 2 Directors selected from each of the three Supporting Organizations

  • The President of ICANN

The 5 non-voting Liaisons shall be selected as follows:

  • 1 by the TAC

  • 1 by the IAB/IETF

  • 1 by the RSSAC

  • 1 by the SAC

  • 1 by the GAC

There will be three supporting organizations: the GNSO (Generic Names Supporting Organization), the CNSO (Country Names Supporting Organization), and the ASO (Addressing Supporting Organization). In the new structure, there would be no Protocol Supporting Organization (PSO).

There will also be four standing advisory committees of the Board: the GAC (Government Advisory Committee), the TAC (Technical Advisory Committee), the RSSAC (the DNS Root Server System Advisory Committee) and the SAC (Security Advisory Committee).

The term of all the directors would be 3 years.

While rejecting the use of elections as an impractical and inefficient method of building Netizen representation, the blue print suggests  the creation of an At Large Advisory Committee as a potential vehicle for informed participation in ICANN by the broad user community. In the mean time the Nomination Committee (Nomcom) will be entrusted with the responsibility of nominating persons to the Board on behalf of the At Large Community.

The entire process appears to give an impression that it has  been stage managed to remove public participation by voting and replace it with individuals close to the current top management. This could be a wrong perception, but the circumstances leading to this development cannot but drive an independent observer to such a conclusion.

We now need to wait and see how the Nomcom committee would be constituted and what action it takes to provide a representation to the At Large Community and how it approaches the issue of At Large Advisory Committee.

Look for the Follow up article: What should India do?


 July 03,  2002

Related Article:

ICANN Proposes Grace Period for Domain Name Renewals/Booking
Preliminary Report of the ICANN Board Meeting at Bucharest
ERC Blueprint for Reform,

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