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Government of Canada comments

  • To: <principles-comments@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: Government of Canada comments
  • From: "Graham, Bill: DIT" <Graham.Bill@xxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 26 Oct 2006 10:28:53 -0400

The Government of Canada notes with interest the 16 October posting that ICANN 
is seeking community input to the Development of Transparency and 
Accountability Management Operating Principles, with comments sought by 31 
October, 2006.  Because of this tight deadline, we are providing you with an 
excerpt from our remarks made in the context of the NTIA Notice of Inquiry 
public forum in July, which refers specifically to the issues of transparency 
and accountability.  These remarks are already on the public record:

        "The ... most important area where we think there needs to be 
improvement before moving to a post-MOU environment is in ICANN's transparency 
and accountability.  We think that at present there is a real shortfall here.  
To be quite specific, we think that it is time for ICANN to recognize that it 
is in many ways a quasi-judicial body, and that it must begin to behave that 
way.  That means that the ICANN Board needs to provide adequate minutes of all 
of its meetings.  

        "And in the case of the most important decisions, particularly those 
involving policy considerations, formal processes need to be adopted:
        *       There needs to be notice of what issues will be considered, and 
the timeframe
        *       When a decision is made, a written document needs to be posted 
setting out the background and context for the issues; e.g.
        *       There needs to be an acknowledgement and summary of the 
positions of interested parties
        *       There needs to be an analysis of the issues, 
        *       There needs to be an explanation of the decision, and the 
reasons for it, and ultimately
        *       There needs to be a mechanism for the Board to be held 
accountable by its community

        "We believe the time taken to make this information available on the 
website will be more than justified by the increase in transparency, of 
understanding and of trust.  For ICANN to operate as a private entity, trust is 
perhaps the most vital element to its success."

In addition, we offer the following comments.

Normally, Canada would prefer that governments' comments on such issues be 
gathered through the Government Advisory Committee (GAC) process.  Discussions 
in the GAC permit governments to exchange views and usually result in the 
development of coherent, well considered advice to the ICANN Board of 
Directors.  We believe that this is useful for us as governments, and we hope 
that it is also useful for the Board.  Unfortunately, as we have been 
discussing in recent Joint Board-GAC Working Group sessions, governments are 
not able to perform this function when faced by very tight deadlines.  It is 
Canada's view that the present call for input addresses a topic that 
governments could be expected to address from a wealth of experience and 
knowledge.  Thus, it is unfortunate that the Board has offered only 15 days' 
time from posting the notice until the deadline for comments.

Canada raised this issue at the last GAC Conference Call, held on 20 October.  
Not all governments on the call were even aware of the existence of the ICANN 
notice, but all agreed that this is a topic that should definitely be 
considered during our next meeting in Sao Paulo in early December.  While we 
respect the enthusiasm shown by the Board by proposing to adopt Management 
Operating Principles on the issue of transparency and accountability in Sao 
Paulo, it is Canada's view that this is an unrealistic goal.

In our opinion, particularly on such an important issue, it is important to be 
transparent in developing the Management Operating Principles.  For that 
reason, at a minimum, we would suggest that the Board consider treating the 
October 31 date as a deadline for preliminary suggestions.  A final deadline 
deadline should be extended by two months, to the end of December, to permit 
full discussion by all communities, including the GAC at the next ICANN 
meeting.  It would also be useful to understand the current thinking of the 
Board on these issues, and the process intended to come to agreement on the 
Principles.  In that regard, the Board might consider developing a short 
discussion paper based on its members' thoughts and the inputs received by the 
October 31 deadline for preliminary suggestions.

Taking these steps will certainly result in achieving a better, well 
understood, and well accepted set of Management Operating Principles.

We look forward to taking part in discussions at the GAC meeting in December, 
and to contributing to enhanced transparency and accountability for ICANN in 
the future.

Yours respectfully,

Bill Graham 
Director / Directeur
International Telecommunications Policy Coordination
Politique internationale des télécommunications et coordination
Industry Canada/Industrie Canada
1690D 300 rue Slater St.
Ottawa CANADA K1A 0C8
Email/Courriel graham.bill@xxxxxxxx 
Tel/Téléphone +1-613-998-4478
Fax/Télécopieur +1-613-998-4530
URL: strategis.ic.gc.ca/spectrum



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