Summary - Analysis of Comments in Public Forum - Proposed Charter of Geographic Regions Review Working Group
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.
Summary & Analysis of Public Comments - Geographic Regions Review WG Proposed Charter 2009.doc