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Summary - Analysis of Comments in Public Forum - GNSO Constituency Renewals 2009

  • To: "gnso-constituency-renewals@xxxxxxxxx" <gnso-constituency-renewals@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: Summary - Analysis of Comments in Public Forum - GNSO Constituency Renewals 2009
  • From: Robert Hoggarth <robert.hoggarth@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 26 Feb 2009 09:33:19 -0800

Summary and analysis of public comments for:

GNSO Constituency Renewals 2009

Comment period ended: 25 February 2009

Summary published: 26 February 2008

Prepared by: Robert Hoggarth, Senior Policy Director


As part of the comprehensive GNSO Improvements effort, last Summer the ICANN 
Board directed existing GNSO Constituencies to report their adherence to 
ICANN's Bylaws by submitting confirming documents in advance of the February 
2009 Board meeting. The Board believed that the submissions offered existing 
constituencies the opportunity to demonstrate their compliance with the Bylaws 
through their organizational structures, practices and processes. The Board 
also established a new requirement that GNSO Constituencies recognized by the 
Board formally confirm their status every 3 years to ensure that they continue 
to meet the requirements of Article X, Section 5, subsection 3 of the ICANN 
Bylaws regarding the principles of representativeness, openness, transparency 
and fairness.

The Board directed the ICANN Staff to help with this effort by designing and 
developing a streamlined process and appropriate mechanisms to assist with the 
Board's timely recognition and approval of the existing constituencies.

The re-confirmation of existing IGNSO Constituencies is an important part of 
the overall GNSO Improvements Implementation effort. The existing 
constituencies will be the foundational structures for new Stakeholder Groups 
that are being created as part of the GNSO Improvements effort. They will also 
play a critical ongoing role in the functions of the GNSO. It is important that 
the constituencies remain committed to the principles of representativeness, 
openness, transparency and fairness set forth in the ICANN Bylaws.

Community feedback on the practices and processes of the existing GNSO 
constituencies and their adherence to the existing Bylaws is an important 
component of the Board's evaluations of these groups and any improvements that 
the Board may recommend.


As of the 25 February 2009 deadline, a total of 5 community submissions have 
been made to this comment forum. The contributors, all individuals, are listed 
below in alphabetical order (with relevant initials noted in parentheses) :

Eric Brunner-Williams (EBW)
George Kirikos (GK) (2 comments)
Jeffrey Williams (JW)
Danny Younger (DY)


Comments submitted to this public forum tended to address or be directed toward 
three main thematic areas - (1) the important need for transparency in all 
constituency activities; (2) specific comments about or criticisms of 
particular constituencies; and (3) recommendations or predictions of Board 
actions regarding the constituency submissions.  Most of the comments were 
quite blunt and generally expressed significant skepticism regarding the 
ultimate value and results of the re-confirmation process.

1.  The Need For Transparency

The issue of transparency and how it should be measured or defined was the most 
referenced topic in the comments.

JW says the single biggest problem with the GNSO and in particular with the 
existing constituencies, is that they are not open and transparent to 
non-constituency users/stakeholders. DY says that in an age when mp3 recordings 
are common and transcription services are available, constituencies should make 
a greater effort to operate in a transparent manner.

GK says that in order to maximize transparency, renewals of each GNSO 
constituency should be conditioned upon their basic commitment to (1) maintain 
public mailing list archives; (2) provide public postings of constituency 
budgets; and (3) publish listings of all members of a constituency. He says 
many (if not all) of the constituencies fail to meet either some or all of the 
above standards.

Public Mailing List Archives:

GK says that public mailing list archives (and membership lists) allow the 
ICANN community and other observers to determine whether GNSO constituencies 
are truly representative of the communities they purport to represent.

Public Posting of Constituency Budgets:

GK says public posting of budgets ensures that constituencies are prudent in 
spending, and allows the public to compare costs across all constituencies to 
ensure equal playing fields.

GK says public budgets, financial statements and related financial disclosures 
are basics of good governance.  He notes that ICANN itself has IRS Form 990 and 
other financial reporting obligations, and asserts that the bar should be set 
equally high for its policy making bodies.

Public List of All Members of a Constituency:

GK says some constituencies fail to list all their individuals or 
organizational members
or keep their lists up-to-date.  He says these lists are an important part of 
transparency in that they can help prevent constituency capture by certain 
organizations and can help to detect conflicts of interest.

GK also says if a constituency's activities are dominated by a very small 
number of individuals or organizations, that could be evidence that it was not 
meeting the "representativeness" principle in ICANN's Bylaw requirements and 
greater membership outreach would be necessary. Similarly, he says, if weeks or 
months go by with very small levels of mail list posting activity or other 
dialogue between members, this would raise the question of whether that 
constituency is as engaged as it should be on the important matters of GNSO 
policy, and raise the question whether that constituency deserves to have 
continued voting representation on the GNSO Council.

2.  Specific Observations About Particular Constituencies

GK notes that currently, of all the constituencies, only the NCUC and ISCP 
constituencies have public mailing lists.

With respect to the BC and ISCPC, DY says that, "after all these years, the BC 
still has no members in Latin America, none in Africa, and at most one or two 
in all of Asia." JW says the BC has never had a fully transparent discussion 
list.  EBW says the findings published in Paris on the GNSO Council voting 
patterns show that for the purposes of policy advocacy, neither the BC or the 
ISCPC exist as independent sources of policy advocacy, and they "simply triple 
the IPC's votes on the GNSO Council."

With respect to the IPC, DY says the IPC used to have a publicly archived 
member discussion list -- but it's now gone.

With respect to the NCUC, DY says the Board should not re-certify the NCUC 
because the constituency has formally advised the Board that it intends to 

With respect to Registrars, JW, GK and EBW all note that the Registrar 
Constituency used to have a public mailing list, but has since "gone private."  
EBW says the decision to transform the Registrar mailing list from an open 
discussion to an executive-committee-announce-only venue was "absurd", and 
moving all intra-registrar discussion to a non-public venue is simply "going 
the wrong direction."

EBW says there is little policy discussion that informs votes on the RC's 
position on issues before the GNSO Council, constituency officer candidate 
statements, or discussion by non-candidate constituency members.

With respect to the Registries, JW claims the registries have never had a fully 
transparent discussion list.

Finally, JW suggests that there should be an independent Registrants 

3. Possible Actions by the Board

As previously noted above, GK suggests that the Board set specific requirements 
that each constituency provide (1) public mailing list archives; (2) public 
postings of constituency budgets; and (3) a current public list of all members 
of the constituency. GK says those requirements should apply across all 
existing and future constituencies equally, and only then can ICANN be said to 
be ensuring that constituencies "shall operate to the maximum extent feasible 
in an open and transparent manner and consistent with procedures designed to 
ensure fairness" as per the Bylaws.

DY quotes the ICANN Bylaws and notes the language from Article X, Section 5, 
Subsection 3 that each constituency "shall maintain its recognition, and thus 
its ability to select GNSO Council representatives, only so long as it in fact 
represents the interests globally of the stakeholder communities it purports to 
represent, and shall operate to the maximum extent feasible in an open and 
transparent manner and consistent with procedures designed to ensure fairness." 
DY says that existing GNSO constituencies have deliberately chosen to ignore 
the ICANN bylaws. He says the constituencies have learned that ICANN is rarely 
inclined to enforce the terms stipulated in its Bylaws. He says this is ICANN's 
opportunity to take corrective action but he doubts the organization will take 
appropriate measures.

DY suggests that despite many shortcomings of the constituencies that are 
evident in their behavior with respect to transparency and openness, that ICANN 
"will doubtless re-certify them anyway" because "the Board is more interested 
in ticking off the boxes in the GNSO improvements schedule than in doing the 
right thing."


The ICANN Staff is currently in the process of reviewing the various 
submissions provided by the existing constituencies and plans to share all 
feedback with constituency leaders and the ICANN Board. 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 comment on the submissions. The 
Board is likely to consider all the relevant community input and move forward 
with guidance for the community as soon as practicably possible. Any decisions 
with respect to the renewal of the existing constituencies will likely take 
place in the context of the GNSO Improvements implementation processes.

Attachment: Summary-Analysis of Community Comments On Existing Constituency Renewals - 2009 26 February 2009 FINAL.doc
Description: Summary-Analysis of Community Comments On Existing Constituency Renewals - 2009 26 February 2009 FINAL.doc

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