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Summary of Public Comments on Proposed GNSO Bylaws Revision on Term Limits

  • To: "gnso-bylaw-revision@xxxxxxxxx" <gnso-bylaw-revision@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: Summary of Public Comments on Proposed GNSO Bylaws Revision on Term Limits
  • From: Liz Gasster <liz.gasster@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 4 Nov 2008 05:09:30 -0800

Summary of public comments for:


Comment period ended: 3 November 2008

Summary published: 4 November 2008 by Liz Gasster, ICANN Policy Staff


Public comments were invited on a proposed change to the ICANN bylaws that 
would implement term limits for GNSO Council members. Currently there is no 
limit to the number of consecutive terms in which a GNSO Council member may 
serve. In November 2006, the GNSO Council passed a resolution endorsing term 
limits, wherein a council member could serve no more than two consecutive terms 
(http://gnso.icann.org/resolutions/#200611).  The resolution also provided that 
a former council member must remain off the GNSO Council for one full term 
prior to serving any subsequent term. In light of the pending GNSO review which 
was underway at the time, the ICANN Board postponed action on term limits. The 
ICANN Board Governance Committee subsequently included term limits as a 
recommendation in the GNSO Improvements Report 
 see Sec. 5.1, p. 28) The Report recommends that the preferred limit be two 
2-year terms, in order to enhance inclusiveness and enable more people to 
become involved in Council activities. The GNSO Improvements package was 
approved by the Board on 26 June 2008 
http://www.icann.org/en/minutes/resolutions-26jun08.htm#_Toc76113182. The draft 
bylaws change also creates an exception, as recommended by the GNSO Council and 
the Board Governance Committee, in a "special circumstance," such as geographic 
diversity requirements, where no alternative representative is available to 

Currently, the GNSO Council, constituencies and ICANN staff are working to 
implement a new structure for constituency representation and voting for the 
GNSO Council. In considering the imposition of term limits for GNSO Council 
members, comments were particularly invited on whether the pending 
reorganization presents issues for the implementation of term limits that 
should be considered before term limits are adopted, including any other 
aspects of the new structure, such as the creation of stakeholder groups or the 
formation of new constituencies. In this public comment invitation, ICANN also 
invited comments on when term limits should go into effect.

The proposed revised bylaws text can be found at: 
 [PDF, 45K]

Seven comments were received on this topic during this public comment period. 
Two comments (PS, SM) expressed concern about implementing term limits in the 
midst of pending GNSO restructuring for a number of reasons described below, 
and recommended that consideration of term limits be postponed until after the 
pending Council restructuring process has been completed.  Five comments (AD, 
RR, KS, SV, RC) voiced support for the expeditious adoption of term limits, 
again for reasons explored further below.


AD supports term limits as a useful way to encourage the participation of new 
members in leadership roles, to assure effective succession planning and to 
bring new perspectives, knowledge and methods to the GNSO Council's policy 
process.  This viewpoint was also emphasized by the RC, RR and SV.  RR also 
expressed concern that a number of Council members are appointed repeatedly "in 
seemingly endless cycles". AD also recommends that term limits be applied to 
the individual, and not to any specific office or seat on the Council, as a 
further way to encourage broader participation by new people who may have fresh 
viewpoints and perspectives, and to avoid the possibility that an individual 
whose term on the Council is limited could then move to another elected role, 
such as by joining another constituency, or becoming a stakeholder group 
leader.  AD also recommends that the exception proposed to the geographic 
diversity requirement be limited to a single additional term.

KS notes that the ICANN bylaws currently impose rules on constituencies 
regarding the selection of representatives on the GNSO Council, and while the 
specific selection of Council members for each constituency is at the 
discretion of each constituency, selections have always been made subject to 
bylaws requirements. KS concludes that instituting term limits at this time 
would add additional clarity to the GNSO reform process. SV and RC also 
encourage adoption of term limits now particularly in light of the pending 

SV and the RC also note that the Registrar Constituency currently restricts its 
member representatives on the GNSO Council from serving more than two 
consecutive terms, and recommend that the same principle should be adopted for 
all constituencies.


One comment (SM) noted that many of the bylaws provisions applicable to the 
GNSO, including Article X which is the subject of this comment forum, will 
undergo extensive revision as a result of pending GNSO restructuring. Thus, the 
commenter recommends that, if the drafters of the new bylaws believe that term 
limits for GNSO Council members should be a feature of the restructured 
Council, the provision should be included as part of the overall bylaws 
amendment applicable to restructuring.

In urging postponement of term limits, the second comment (PS) also pointed to 
the pending restructuring of the GNSO Council. This commenter notes that there 
are a number of open questions regarding the election of GNSO Council members 
in the future GNSO structure, such as whether elections would be 
constituency-based or based on the new stakeholder groups, and whether the 
present system of geographic representation would scale to an expanded number 
of GNSO Council members.  PS also raises several questions, such as whether 
there should be different rules for term limits applicable to contacted parties 
and non-contracted parties and whether term limits might be better established 
at the contracted party house/non-contracted party house-level.  PS also notes 
that the GNSO Council's vote in November 2006 recommending adoption of term 
limits was not unanimous and was arrived at based on the weighted voting 
structure currently in place and thus should be reconsidered in light of the 
anticipated new structure of the Council.


The ICANN Board will be considering the question of whether term limits for 
GNSO Council members should be adopted at an upcoming meeting, as well as 
relevant timing considerations, following this comment period.


AD      Avri Doria
SM      Steven Metalitz
RR       Ross Rader
PS        Philip Sheppard
KS       Ken Stubbs
SV       Stéphane Van Gelder
RC       Registrar Constituency

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