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CIRA submission to ICANN

  • To: <principles-comments@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: CIRA submission to ICANN
  • From: "Bernard Turcotte" <bernard.turcotte@xxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 27 Dec 2006 22:01:28 -0500

Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) -

Submission to ICANN regarding its consultation on the Development of
and Accountability Management Operating Principles

December 27th, 2006

CIRA reiterates its support of ICANN in its attempt to engage the community
in re-
examining its accountability and transparency. 

ICANN is a unique global experiment whose success hinges on its ability to
engage all its 
stakeholders in its activities in a meaningful and effective way. The
keystone in any such 
approach is accountability and as such ICANN must re-instate some type of
accountability mechanisms between itself and its stakeholders if it hopes to
Failure to do this will continue re-enforce the notion that a traditional
approach to 
Internet governance would be more effective and will seriously limit the
opportunities for 
a successful outcome of this experiment. 

It is in this context that we wish to congratulate ICANN for accepting
recommendation from its letter dated June 15th, 2006 in retaining the
services of a non-
governmental independent consultant, One World Trust (OWT), to "benchmark 
ICANN's accountability and transparency against similar organizations and
help develop 
a plan for addressing any issues identified".

We further commend ICANN on seeking input from the community on the terms of

reference for the work to be undertaken by OWT and look forward to the
publication of 
these terms of reference when they are finalized.

Given ICANN is simultaneously conducting a number of critical activities
which relate to 
Transparency and Accountability, it would be highly beneficial for ourselves
and the 
community, to understand how these are linked.

As to the terms of reference for the work to be undertaken by OWT we would 
recommend that this needs to focus on re-establishing clear and effective
mechanisms between ICANN and its stakeholders in keeping with the overall
spirit of 
the original bylaws.

CIRA also wishes to contribute to the work on Transparency and
Accountability by 
submitting the Issue Paper entitled "Accountability and Transparency in
Governance" prepared by the International Institute for Sustainable
Development. This 
paper, commissioned by CIRA, is attached to this submission.

Given that Transparency and Accountability projects tend to be longer term
projects we 
would also encourage ICANN to take some short term actions, such as the ones
by the GAC in their submission to this consultation.

Yours truly,

Bernard Turcotte
President and CEO


Cc: CIRA Board, ICANN Board, CCNSO

(formatted PDF version attached)

Accountability and Transparency in Internet Governance
Issue Paper

International Institute for Sustainable Development 
for the Canadian Internet Registration Authority

December 2006


CIRA commissioned the International Institute for 
Sustainable Development to develop a non-partisan issue 
piece on transparency and accountability in Internet 
governance (IG). The piece suggests definitions of 
transparency and accountability for the Internet context, 
provides three examples of implementation of these 
principles in multistakeholder entities, and identifies 
further research necessary to investigate accountability 
and transparency standards, processes and best practice for 
Internet governance.  

Executive Summary

The multistakeholder nature of current Internet governance 
is a result of the partnerships through which the medium 
developed.  While the existing structures have been 
efficient to date, they face questions of legitimacy.  
These questions arise because technical decision-making 
inherently carries public policy implications, and they are 
growing in importance with the rising role the Internet 
itself plays in all spheres of human activity.  The 
principles of accountability and transparency are necessary 
for supporting legitimate decision making, not only in the 
Internet context, but also in other areas of international 
governance.  Accountability is the obligation to 
demonstrate and take responsibility for performance in 
light of agreed expectations.  In multistakeholder 
governance arrangements, it frequently includes the 
obligation to engage stakeholders in making decisions.  
Transparency is a key to operationalizing accountability, 
since access to relevant and timely information is 
necessary for meaningful participation in any process.  In 
multistakeholder governance, it should allow stakeholders 
to clearly see and understand the impact of their 
engagement.  There is a growing body of multistakeholder 
initiatives at various levels, international, industry-
specific, or regional.  Some of these initiatives have 
developed and incorporated accountability and transparency 
mechanisms into their work.  Three cases, those of the 
Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, the British 
Columbia Ministry of Education District Accountability 
Contract Guidelines and the Global Compact Integrity 
measures are presented here.  None of the examples have 
been tested for efficacy, but each contains features of 
accountability or transparency mechanisms that may be 
useful for Internet governance.  Further research of 
multistakeholder governance arrangements and their 
treatment of accountability and transparency in non-
Internet contexts is a necessary next step for identifying 
appropriate approaches to incorporating these principles in 
Internet governance structures.


As a medium, the Internet has always required collaboration 
among different stakeholders.  The Internet's growth and 
development continue to rely on a combination of public, 
non-proprietary standards on one hand, and private capital 
and industry innovation on the other.  Mirroring the 
partnerships between different groups of actors involved in 
the Internet's development, Internet governance structures 
rely on a multistakeholder collaboration model to engage 
the private sector, the technical community, civil society 
and other groups.  As a result, Internet governance 
processes include, at least nominally, voices of a range of 

Existing Internet governance structures have demonstrated a 
relatively high level of efficiency, enabling the explosive 
growth of the network.  However, they face specific and 
complex questions related to assessment of their legitimacy 
according to longstanding administrative principles of 
accountability and transparency.  These questions are not 
limited to the Internet context. Many other 
multistakeholder organizations at international and local 
levels and in fields ranging from banking, to environmental 
protection, accounting, extractive industries, and 
education too face challenges in implementing effective 
accountability and transparency procedures.  While an 
exhaustive evaluation of options for operationalizing 
accountability and transparency in Internet governance is 
beyond its scope, this paper offers definitions of the two 
terms for the Internet context, and provides examples of 
approaches in multistakeholder or hybrid institutions 
outside of the Internet arena.  

A Note on Legitimacy

Technical decision making in the Internet arena often has 
public policy implications.  Initially, the technical 
decisions related to the Internet affected a small number 
of people. But as its importance as a global infrastructure 
continues to increase, technical decisions have begun to 
have effects across national borders, jurisdictions and 
cultural boundaries.  For instance, decisions around 
establishing multilingual and new domain names or around 
technical requirements of the whois policy can impact 
governments, businesses, individuals and civil society 
organizations around the world.

It is not possible to make a completely clear division of 
labour when it comes to governance policy making and 
technical implementation, because realizing policy choices 
depends on technical solutions.  This inevitable link 
between policy and technical decision making invokes 
questions of legitimacy.  

Legitimate institutions and rules persuade actors to 
voluntarily comply with behavioural prescriptions.(i)  The 
concept is particularly important in governance, where a 
system of checks and balances has long been recognized to 
promote a legitimate policy process.  There is a long 
history of recognition of the importance of these 
principles for centralized governance structures, such as 
states.  But it is remarkable how much work still remains 
to be done in addressing and operationalizing legitimacy in 
international multistakeholder governance.(ii)  What seems 
clear from the limited research available is that 
legitimacy in multistakeholder governance relies on 
effective accountability and transparency mechanisms.

Accountability is the obligation to demonstrate and take 
responsibility for performance in light of agreed 
expectations.  An accountable organization can clearly 
answer the question: Who is responsible to whom and for 
what? (iii)

Two models of accountability, which can compliment one 
another, are relevant for Internet governance:

1)      The delegation model of accountability places the 
onus of evaluation of accountability on those endowing 
power holders with their powers. This notion can also be 
called "upward accountability."
2)      The participation model of accountability specifies 
that accountability is evaluated by those affected by the 
actions of power holders.  This notion is also known as 
"downward accountability."

The Internet governance context produces significant 
overlap between those affected by decisions and those 
endowing organizations with their powers, because many of 
the stakeholders hold veto powers.(iv)  This overlap 
translates to a need for effective accountability 
mechanisms in both directions: upward - toward those 
endowing power holders with their powers, and downward - 
toward those affected by the power holders' actions.(v)

What is the purpose of accountability in multistakeholder 

When collaboration is a necessary requirement of 
effectiveness, partners - or actors - must be able to hold 
other actors to a set of standards, to judge whether they 
have fulfilled their responsibilities in light of these 
standards, and to impose sanctions if they determine that 
these responsibilities have not been met. (vi) (vii) In 
that way, accountability mechanisms allow stakeholders to 
participate in policy making if they deem it necessary and 
ensure that decision-makers must justify their actions vis-
a-vis affected parties. Thus, the purpose of accountability 
mechanisms is to expose and prevent the unauthorized or 
illegitimate exercise of power and the decisions 
stakeholders deem unwise or unjust. (viii)

In the Internet Governance context, ensuring accountability 
of institutions may require, among other things:

*       Ensuring ways of participation are available, and can 
be initiated by stakeholders,
*       Maintaining open and clearly defined lines of 
communication between decision-makers, implementation 
executives and stakeholders, including responding to 
stakeholder concerns and justifying decisions taken,
*       Ensuring that stakeholders have the ability to 
sanction or change decisions through a clear mechanism,
*       Conducting periodic evaluations and making necessary 
revisions of accountability mechanisms available in current 


Transparency is a key tool used to operationalize lines of 
accountability.  It can be defined as the steady and 
reliable availability of relevant information to 
stakeholders.  Transparency mechanisms are procedural and 
structural aspects of an organization that make this 
information available and accessible by the stakeholders.  

What is the purpose of transparency in multistakeholder 

The underlying purpose of transparency is to allow 
stakeholders to ensure their interests are adequately 
weighed and incorporated into decision-making.  

In the Internet governance context, transparency should 
allow stakeholders to participate effectively in the 
management of Internet resources.  Effective participation 
in this context includes the ability to:

*       Evaluate and debate issues,
*       Access opinions of other stakeholders on specific 
*       Develop and submit opinions over an adequate time 
*       Understand the process through which opinions are 
taken into account and their impact on the decisions made,
*       Understand when and how decisions are being made, 
including being aware of the process of weighing and 
incorporating assessments of various stakeholder 
assessments of an issue into decisions.

Examples of Accountability and Transparency Mechanisms in 
non-Internet Contexts

The increasing number of multistakeholder approaches to 
governance is helping build a body of experience in 
addressing issues of accountability and transparency.  The 
following are examples of mechanisms designed to facilitate 
accountability and transparency in mulstistakeholder 
organizations outside of the Internet arena.  

Our inclusion of these examples should not be interpreted 
as a suggestion that these particular approaches are 
appropriate, or inappropriate.  We simply felt the 
mechanics of the examples to be of interest and potentially 
helpful in the Internet governance context.  The efficacy, 
or the potential efficacy, however, was not tested or 
evaluated in any way.  Further research and examination of 
each of the examples would be necessary to determine 
whether these approaches could be adapted for Internet 
governance.  Besides, there are many other examples, some 
listed in appendix A, with potentially useful approaches to 
these issues.

1. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI)

According to its website, the EITI supports improved 
governance in resource-rich countries through the full 
publication and verification of company payments and 
government revenues from oil, gas and mining.  The 
initiative is of particular interest because of a wide 
range of stakeholders involved, including:
*       ~ 15 Governments,  
*       ~ 24 Companies
*       Four industry associations,
*       Five international organizations (including 
development banks, the OECD and the International Monetary 
Fund), and
*       Seven nongovernmental organizations and NGO 
coalitions (including groups like Global Witness, Revenue 
Watch Institute and Transparency International).
*       70 global investment institutions also support the 

Two aspects of EITI's functioning are particularly 
interesting for the Internet context:

1)      EITI recognizes that effective disclosure and 
publication depends on an a process which involves groups 
of stakeholders integrated at each step of the process, 
from the early stages (the development of reporting 
templates and the establishment of the precise scope and 
nature of disclosure to be included in the reporting 
templates), to the final reporting and revisions (where 
stakeholders can add notes or comments to the reports).
2)      EITI documents take into account that the capacity of 
all stakeholders to engage in discussions is a prerequisite 
for the effectiveness of any transparency mechanisms.

The guidelines for disclosure and publication focus on 
"benefit streams." These are defined as any potential 
source of economic benefit which a host government receives 
from an extractive industry.  In an Internet governance 
context, similar streams might be identified according to 
the potential of decisions to affect stakeholders or 
otherwise produce a public policy-like effect.  The purpose 
of distinguishing between the streams is to identify 
relevant information to be shared with each stream, and to 
evaluate - and improve if necessary - the capacity of each 
stream to participate in the decision-making process.

2. British Columbia Ministry of Education District 
Accountability Contract Guidelines

BC's School Boards are required, by legislation, to prepare 
and submit to the Minister of Education an Annual 
Accountability Contract with respect to improving student 
achievement and any other matters ordered by the Minister.  
These contracts are designed in consultation with the 
education community and parents in a way that suits each 
community's unique needs and circumstances.  Parents, 
teachers, and district representatives are involved in the 
planning of each of the main elements of accountability 
contracts, including defining the context, identifying 
district and school connections, setting goals and 
objectives, articulating the rationale, agreeing on 
performance indicators and expected results, defining 
target strategies, adjusting existing or building new 
operating structures and reporting the results.  

The purposes of the contracts are to design customized 
goals for each school board to an overall aim of improving 
student achievement, and to communicate these efforts to 
the public and other stakeholder groups.

The procedure is illustrative of an approach that combines 
upward and downward accountability models, discussed 
earlier in this paper.  The upward accountability component 
consists of satisfying each of the contract elements 
required by the Ministry.   

Those elements include setting the context, articulating 
goals, objectives, performance targets and timelines, 
identifying supporting structures and processes and 
reporting on accountability performance.

The downward accountability component rests on  

*       the emphasis on the inclusion of stakeholders and 
their priorities at each step of the accountability 
contract development, to an overall common goal - improving 
student achievement through a common vision, shared goals, 
effective use of resources, and connections between the 
stakeholder groups, and
*       the regular review and opportunity for enhancing the 
structure and elements of the accountability analysis 
through stakeholder participation.

3. Global Compact Integrity Measures

The Global Compact is a United Nations initiative aimed at 
bringing together business associations, labour 
organizations, UN agencies, civil society entities, 
academic participants and public sector groups to support 
universal environmental and social principles.  

The Global Compact Integrity Measures may be of interest 
for the Internet context for two reasons:

1)      The measures contain procedures designed to encourage 
resolution of complaints or conflicts.  As a first 
recourse, the good offices of the Compact are used.  
Failing internal mediation, regional networks or other 
participants may be approached to assist with resolving a 
complaint or conflict.  As a next step, the Compact refers 
complaints to external parties (in this case, international 
entities deemed to be guardians of the Global Compact 
principles, for instance, the International Labour 
Organization or the OECD) for advice and assistance.  
Finally, the complaint can be referred to the Board, 
drawing on the expertise and recommendations of particular 
2)      The measures contain a voluntary enforcement 
mechanism, employing peer pressure and reputation pressure 
to promote accountability of the members.  Essentially, the 
measures provide for a means of "naming and shaming:" 
membership in or association with the Global Compact is 
temporarily or permanently stripped from members who fail 
to adhere to the joint transparency and accountability 
standards.  In the absence of legal requirement or 
regulation, reputation and peer pressure are likely to be 
the most effective motivating factors for compliance with 
accountability standards by Internet governance bodies.  
Although it is not intended to affect, pre-empt or 
substitute for other regulatory or legal procedures in any 
jurisdiction, the mechanism may in fact reduce the need for 
such procedures.


The calls for increased accountability and transparency are 
not confined to the Internet arena.  Accountability and 
transparency are increasingly recognized as crucial 
principles for effective and sustainable multistakeholder 
governance across a range of contexts.  Multistakeholder 
initiatives such as the Global Compact Integrity Measures, 
the BC Ministry of Education Accountability Contract 
Guidelines and the Extractive Industry Transparency 
Initiative provide examples of accountability and 
transparency mechanisms that could inspire similar 
instruments for Internet governance; however, these 
examples have not been studied in detail and there are few 
established or "standard" mechanisms for applying these 
principles to decentralized structures directly comparable 
to the ones found in Internet governance.  Much remains to 
be done in investigating and adapting existing mechanisms 
to develop customized approaches that will be effective in 
the Internet context.

The connection of accountability and transparency with 
legitimacy is of paramount importance. Resolving legitimacy 
issues, with the support of effective accountability and 
transparency mechanisms, is urgent for organizations 
involved in Internet governance.  There is a need to 
further research and specify the shortcomings of existing 
accountability and transparency mechanisms in establishing 
the legitimacy of Internet governance bodies and to 
investigate why these shortcomings exist, and how they can 
be remedied.

Appendix A 
Additional Examples of Accountability and Transparency 
Mechanisms Employed in Multistakeholder Governance

*       The Codex Alimentarius Commission adopts standards on 
food safety through a decision-making process that includes 
non-governmental and governmental actors, and has a quasi-
mandatory effect on corporations via the SPS Agreement 
under WTO law.  (ix)

*       The Ethical Trading Initiative is an alliance of 
companies, NGOs, and trade union organizations aimed at 
identifying and promoting ethical trade through good 
practice in the implementation of a code of conduct for 
good labour standards, including the monitoring and 
independent verification of the observance of ethics code 
provisions, as standards for ethical sourcing. 

*       The International Standards Organization is an 
umbrella organization for national standards bodies from 
some 140 countries.  In addition to having significant 
economic impacts, the ISO influences decisions of treaty-
based authorities like the WTO. (x)

*       The World Anti-Doping Agency applies due process 
standards in dealing with Olympic athletes suspected of 
using illegal performance enhancing drugs.

*       The Global Reporting Initiative is an international, 
multistakeholder effort to form a consensus for voluntary 
reporting of the economic, environmental and social impacts 
of industry.

(i) Risse, Thomas. "Transnational Governance and Legitimacy 
Conference" Paper presented at the ECPR Standing Group on 
International Relations Conference, The Hague, Sept. 9-12, 
2004. p. 7.
(ii) Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research 
Shifts in Governance. "Problems of Legitimacy and 
Accountability." The Hague: Netherlands Organization for 
Scientific Research, 2004. p. 8.
(iii)  Fitzpatrick, Tom. "Horizontal Management: Trends in 
Governance and Accountability." Canadian Centre for 
Management Development Ottawa: Treasury Board of Canada, 
2000. p. 6.
(iv)  Grewlich, Klaus. "Internet Governance: Definition; 
Governance tools; Global Multi stakeholder entity." Paper 
Written for the Eight Meeting of the UN ICT Task Force. New 
York: UN ICT Task Force, 2005. p. 9-10.
(v)  It is important to note that, while downward 
accountability mechanisms can incorporate components of 
direct democracy, they are not inherently democratic in the 
sense that requires membership and direct elections.
(vi)  Grant, Ruth W. and Robert O Keohane. "Accountability 
and Abuses of Power in World Politics." IILJ Working Paper 
2004/7. Global Administrative Law Series. Available at 
r.pdf, p. 1.
(vii) Koenig-Archibugi, Mathias and David Held. Global 
Governance And Public Accountability. Oxford: Blackwell, 
2004. p. 3.
(viii)  Grant, p. 4.
(ix)  Kingsbury, Benedict, Nico Krisch and Richard Stewart. 
"The Emergence of Global Administrative Law." Law and 
Contemporary Problems. 68 (2005): 15-61, p. 22.
(x)  Id.

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