One of the core values underlying ICANN's structure and operations is support for broad and informed participation reflecting the geographic diversity of the Internet at all levels of policy development and decision making. This support is implemented by numerous requirements for geographic diversity reflected in ICANN's bylaws, in the operating procedures of ICANN entities and in its culture. These requirements are framed in terms of Geographic Regions, as provided in Article VI, Section 5 of the bylaws:
...As used in these Bylaws, each of the following is considered to be a "Geographic Region": Europe; Asia/Australia/Pacific; Latin America/Caribbean islands; Africa; and North America. The specific countries included in each Geographic Region shall be determined by the Board, and this Section shall be reviewed by the Board from time to time (but at least every three years) to determine whether any change is appropriate, taking account of the evolution of the Internet.
At its June 2003 meeting in Montreal the ICANN Board adopted resolution [03.100] that the ICANN Board reaffirms the existing definition of five geographic regions and reaffirms the existing methodology for allocating specific countries and territories to particular regions, pursuant to Article VI, Section 5, of the bylaws, and further resolved [03.101] that the ICANN board adopts the allocation table posted by the staff on 5 June 2003.
As more than three years have passed since the 2003 review was completed, the Board will review the definition of the ICANN's geographic regions and the methodology for allocating specific countries and territories to particular regions.
Current allocation methodology
In advance of the July 2000 Yokohama meeting, ICANN posted a topic paper on "Definition of ICANN's Geographic Regions" and specifically requested the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) to give its "views on the proper allocation of countries, territories, and distinct economies as recognized in international fora among the five geographic regions defined by the ICANN Bylaws."
The GAC recommended that ICANN make reference to existing international norms for regional distribution of countries. After this recommendation and comments made at the ICANN Public Forum on 15 July 2000, the Board discussed the appropriate means for allocating countries and territories to the ICANN Geographic Regions. In the discussion, the Board expressed concern about itself deciding how to allocate countries to Regions, but noted that it was necessary to do so and that it was best to refer to some independently prepared and authoritative list for this purpose. The ICANN staff proposed use of the February 2000 version of two lists prepared by the United Nations Statistics Division, and also recommended (based on GAC comment) that dependent territories be grouped together with the country of citizenship for the territory. Thus, a resident of New Caledonia (overseas territory of France located in the Pacific Ocean) would be grouped with Europe rather than Asia/Australia/Pacific.
The Board adopted the following resolution:
Whereas, Article V, Sec. 6, of the ICANN Bylaws calls upon the Board to determine a specific allocation of countries among five general geographic regions (Europe; Asia/Australia/Pacific; Latin America/Caribbean islands; Africa; North America); and
Whereas, this year's At Large membership elections will entail the selection of one Director from each of ICANN's five geographic regions; and
Whereas, the Governmental Advisory Committee, upon the ICANN staff's request for advice, recommended that "With regard to the definition of ICANN's Geographic Regions, ICANN should make reference to existing international norms for regional distribution of countries," it is
Resolved [00.64] that the staff is directed to assign countries to geographic regions on the basis of the United Nations Statistics Division's current classifications of "Countries or areas, codes and abbreviations," as revised 16 February 2000, and "Composition of macro geographic (continental) regions and component geographical regions," as revised 16 February 2000.
The above methodology — employing the lists prepared by the United Nations Statistics Division and recognizing the grouping of dependencies with their mother countries — was then implemented.
In June 2003, the Board reaffirmed this methodology.
The allocation methodology adopted by the Board in July 2000 and reaffirmed in 2003, has worked without significant problems. The 2002 ICANN reforms, which emphasized the importance of ensuring geographic and other types of diversity within ICANN, make the definition of the Geographic Regions relevant not only for the membership of the Board, but also for the GNSO Council , the ALAC and the ccNSO.
At the time of the two previous reviews conducted of the ICANN Regions, the ccNSO did not exist. The ccNSO discussed the relevance of the ICANN Regions at its members meeting in Marrakesh and more recently released a background paper and questionnaire on the matter. Concerns raised by the ccNSO include disproportionate representation on the ccNSO Council and dependent territories being located in an ICANN region associated with country or citizenship, which in some cases leads to a ccTLD being in an ICANN region which is removed from its geographic location.
Public comments invited
Comments are invited relating to ICANN's Review of Regions with the goal of setting out a formal process in São Paulo. Comments may be submitted by email to email@example.com.