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CWG and Observers.

  • To: Richard Hill <rhill@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: CWG and Observers.
  • From: Avri Doria <avri@xxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 29 Sep 2014 12:07:14 -0400

Response to http://forum.icann.org/lists/icg-forum/msg00011.html


I think that Observers is an unfortunate word for what we are trying to
do.  As part of the charter draft group, I wish the issue had occurred
to me, or that someone had brought it up earlier.  But as an ICANN
insider who has frequently been an observer in an ICANN group, I knew
what was intended.  I can't blame you for not knowing and I do see the

It is true that there are 2 types of membership in this group, those who
are accountable to the various supporting ICANN Supporting Organization,
Advisory Committees and Stakeholder Groups (SOAC/SG) and those who are
participating as individuals.  We called the second group Observers.

What the charter calls Observer, are full participants in the
discussions and in the consensus building.  I.e that have regular seats
with equal footing at the discussion/consensus building table.

Since the ICG has determined that proposals must come from the
operational communities and since the ICANN CWG was created by the
SOAC/SG to respond to that requirement, any result needs to go back to
the SOAC/SG* as the chartering organizations for final approval before
going off to the ICG.  The SOAC/SG accountable members of the CWG are
responsible for the report that goes back for approval to their
individual SOAC/SG.  They are the only ones who get to determine that
consensus has been reached and have a vote on the report if it comes
down to needing a vote and that the report is ready to go.  Of course if
ICANN as an operational community, claims there was (rough) consensus
when there wasn't, lots of people (including me) will decry that
situation to the ICG forum and inform our reps on the ICG - for those
who are lucky enough to have reps on the ICG, so it is not likely to

The preference is that all of the substantive work be done by consensus
of all participants, ie. by everyone including observers.  If we do the
consensus call properly, we will have covered any issue that anyone
brought into the discussion in a complete manner.  And in normal ICANN
practice, if there are irreconcilable differences they will be
documented in the report and will warrant more work.

I think the problem is more semantic than actual.  Observer are full
participants with the following caveats:

- They participate in their own capacity as opposed to as
representatives accountable to the ICANN group that chose them, though
they may indeed be answerable to some other organization's
accountability mechanisms that are beyond the mandate of ICANN.

- At the end of the day, the final decision is made by the SOAC/SG and
the members they picked for the group.  We hope to avoid voting, but in
a timed exercise, such as this is, it sometimes comes down to voting.
One time where a consensus call or voting sometime happens is, for
example, after consensus or rough consensus has been reached and the
final report is prepared; sometimes a formal consensus call or vote is
taken where those voting state that to the best of their knowledge the
report is indeed a fair representation of the final (rough) consensus
reached.  This is the same thing they will need to report to their
respective SOAC/SG.

As I was just appointed as the NCSG representative on the group,
Richard, I personally think it would be a pity for you to sit it out and
submit a separate proposal, and for us to wait until after the ICG sends
your recommendation back to the ICANN CWG for us to start debating your
points.  I hope you will reconsider and join the effort.

For my part I will do what I can as a member of the group to make sure
that we follow through with the intent of full participation by those we
have called observers.  I don't know if the wording of the charter can
be changed at this point without wasting months on more process stuff,
but I will present the issue to the group.  In any case I will make sure
that observers have every opportunity for full participation to the best
of my ability.


* and probably the ICANN board - not sure what role they have in the
approval of the report, but I expect they will have some role.

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