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Summary - Analysis of Comments in Public Forum - Proposed Charter of Geographic Regions Review Working Group

  • To: "geo-charter@xxxxxxxxx" <geo-charter@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: Summary - Analysis of Comments in Public Forum - Proposed Charter of Geographic Regions Review Working Group
  • From: Robert Hoggarth <robert.hoggarth@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 26 Mar 2009 14:34:06 -0700

Summary and Analysis of Public Comments for:

Proposed Charter of Geographic Regions Review Working Group

Comment period ended: 24 March 2009
Summary published: 26 March 2008

Prepared by: Robert Hoggarth, Senior Policy Director


I.  BACKGROUND

Geographic diversity is a fundamental component of the ICANN organization. The 
ICANN Bylaws (Article VI Section 5) currently define five geographic regions as 
Africa, North America, Latin America/Caribbean, Asia/Australia/Pacific and 
Europe.

The ICANN Geographic Regions were originally created to ensure regional 
diversity in the composition of the ICANN Board and were subsequently expanded 
in various ways to apply to the Generic Names Supporting Organisation (GNSO), 
At Large Advisory Committee (ALAC) and the Country Code Names Supporting 
Organisation (ccNSO). An ICANN Board resolution in 2000 directed Staff to 
assign countries to geographic regions on the basis of the United Nations 
Statistics Division's current classifications, and introduced the concept of 
"citizenship" in relation to the definition of ICANN Geographic Regions.

In recent years, members of the ICANN community have developed concerns about 
the implementation of the ICANN Geographic Regions and related representational 
issues. At the recommendation of the ccNSO Council and with subsequent support 
approval by the GNSO Council, Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) and ALAC, 
in November 2008 the ICANN Board authorized the formation of a community-wide 
working group to study and review the issues related to the definition of the 
ICANN Geographic Regions, consult with all stakeholders, and submit proposals 
for community and Board consideration relating to the current definition of the 
ICANN Geographic Regions.

The companion resolutions on the issue stated:

Resolved (2008.11.07.08), the Board authorizes the formation of a 
community-wide working group to study and review the issues related to the 
definition of the ICANN Geographic Regions, consult with all stakeholders, and 
submit proposals for community and Board consideration relating to the current 
definition of the ICANN Geographic Regions. The Board requests that all 
interested Supporting Organizations and Advisory Committees nominate two 
individuals to serve on the working group, the composition of which the Board 
would like to approve at the December Board meeting.

Resolved (2008.11.07.09), the Board requests the working group, as its first 
order of business, to draft and seek community input on a proposed charter, and 
submit the draft document for community review, and Board consideration and 
approval at the March 2009 Board meeting in Mexico City. In drafting the 
charter, the working group is directed to focus, but not limit, its work on the 
criteria for assigning countries, dependencies and recognized geopolitical 
entities to a Geographic Region, and to take into consideration the relevant 
ccNSO Board paper, the recent GNSO comments, and other community advice - 
including the GAC's original advice on the topic in 2000. Further, the Board 
directs ICANN Staff to support these efforts.

Subsequently the ALAC, ccNSO Council and GNSO Council named specific members to 
join the working group and the GAC established a methodology for monitoring and 
contributing to the group's progress. After consideration of the Board 
resolutions and subsequent discussions, the Working Group developed a proposed 
charter that was posted to the ICANN web site on 18 February 2009 and made the 
subject of this public comment forum.

II.  GENERAL COMMENTS and CONTRIBUTORS

As of the 24 March 2009 deadline, two substantive and relevant community 
submissions have been made to this comment forum. Both commenters support the 
formation of the Working Group and the proposed charter document. The 
contributors are .au Domain Administration Ltd (auDA) (the not-for-profit 
organization endorsed by the Australian Government to administer the .au domain 
space) and registrar GoDaddy.com, Inc. (GoDaddy).

III.  SUMMARY & ANALYSIS

Both auDA and GoDaddy support the decision to form a community-wide working 
group to study and review issues related to the definition of ICANN's 
geographic regions and support the draft charter established for the 
"Geographic Regions Working Group".  Both commenters have unique perspectives 
and specific suggestions for the Working Group's efforts.

auDA says it recognizes that ICANN's original July 2000 resolution to adopt a 
regional structure - including a mechanism for determining "citizenship" for 
non-countries - has given rise to a number of representational and 
participation issues. For example, the sheer size and diversity of ICANN's 
Asia-Australia-Pacific Region can create difficulties for meaningful 
participation in regional dialogues for smaller and lesser-developed countries 
and resource-poor ccTLD managers. Similarly, auDA says, groups of countries 
with cultural, political and language affiliations may struggle for meaningful 
representation under purely geographic-based arrangements.

auDA says there is "some inconsistency" in the way in which geographical
diversity requirements have been implemented throughout the ICANN
structure and a fundamental divergence from the original United Nations
Statistics Division list originally adopted by the ICANN Board.

auDA says the proposed working group charter appears to strike an appropriate 
balance between the need for a review of ICANN's geographic regions and the 
importance of undertaking this work through a broad, consensus-based approach.

auDA says it is particularly appropriate that, before developing any proposals 
for reform, the Working Group proposes to (1) draw its membership from across 
ICANN's constituencies; (2) operate in an open, consultative manner; (3) 
identify the wide range of purposes for which ICANN's Regions are currently 
used; and (4) assess whether the current ICANN Geographic Regions continue to 
meet the requirements of stakeholders.

GoDADDY says it generally supports the adoption of the proposed charter, and 
anticipates that the Working Group will thoroughly and efficiently complete its 
objectives.

GoDaddy agrees that there is a need to inventory the various purposes for which 
geographic regions are used to establish geographic diversity within ICANN's 
various SOs and ACs. GoDaddy offers two specific recommendations on the 
substantive issues likely to be addressed by the Working Group and one 
procedural suggestion to improve the efficiency of the process.

First, recognize the practical implications of Geographic Regions assignments. 
GoDaddy says many functions within ICANN strive to achieve geographical 
diversity and balance in the selection of: working groups, 
constituency/stakeholder officers, and council representatives. Recognizing 
this, it is clear that a significantly larger number of geographic regions 
would make the task of maintaining balance within these groups difficult or 
unworkable. To guard against this, GoDaddy recommends that the total number of 
ICANN geographic regions be limited at or near its current level of five (5).

Second, GoDaddy says the RIR region and the ICANN Geographical Region 
assignments should be aligned. According to GoDaddy, the ASO has designated 
five general regions, each with its respective Regional Internet Registry 
(RIR). GoDaddy says any assignment that results in a country or territory 
having a different region than that of its RIR should be pursued carefully, and 
be reserved for extraordinary situations.

Third, GoDaddy says during its final phases the Working Group should consider 
combining the SO/AC Review and the Interim Report Public Comments into a single 
iteration. GoDaddy notes that the timetable proposed in the draft charter 
establishes comment periods for the Initial and Interim reports. Upon 
publication of the Final report (prior to the Feb 2010 ICANN meeting), there is 
an additional period of review by the ALAC, GNSO, ccNSO, and GAC. Each SO/AC is 
then required to submit its written support or disagreement in advance of 
consideration of the report by the ICANN Board. GoDaddy suggests that to 
expedite the completion of the WG efforts, and reduce the burden on staff and 
volunteer resources, the Board should consider including the SO/AC review 
process in parallel with the final public comment period and those comments can 
then be incorporated into the Final Report.

IV.  NEXT STEPS

In addition to summarizing the comments in this forum, the Staff will collect 
relevant community comments made on this issue in other public forums including 
those held during the ICANN Mexico City Meeting. The ICANN Board of Directors 
will subsequently review the Staff's analysis and comments on the submissions. 
The Board is likely to consider all the relevant community input and move 
forward with a decision on the proposed charter as soon as practicably possible.

Attachment: Summary & Analysis of Public Comments - Geographic Regions Review WG Proposed Charter 2009.doc
Description: Summary & Analysis of Public Comments - Geographic Regions Review WG Proposed Charter 2009.doc



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