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Thomas Rickert, León Sánchez, Mathieu Weill
Members and participants of the Cross Community Working Group on Enhancing ICANN Accountability (CCWG-Accountability) met in Istanbul, Turkey, on 23-24 March 2015.
Guided by the four basic building blocks identified at ICANN 52 in Singapore, the group further discussed and refined accountability mechanisms that need to be either implemented or, at least, committed to before the transition of the IANA stewardship can take place.
The meeting made progress on three main areas:
- Enhancing ICANN's Mission and Core Values;
- Strengthening the existing independent review process;
- Mechanisms for community empowerment.
Specifically, the group discussed changes that should be made to the Mission and Core Values in ICANN's Bylaws. For example, the group discussed how key provisions of the Affirmation of Commitments (AoC) could be reflected into the Bylaws.
Additionally, the group worked on strengthening the existing independent review process suggesting improvements to its accessibility and affordability, and discussed process design including establishment of a standing panel with binding outcomes and panel composition (diversity etc.). The IRP panel decisions would be guided by ICANN's Mission and Core Values.
With regards to mechanisms for community empowerment, the group identified powers and associated mechanisms including the ability to:
- recall the ICANN Board of Directors;
- approve or prevent changes to the ICANN Bylaws, Mission and Core Values;
- reject Board decisions on Strategic Plan and budget, where the Board has failed to appropriately consider community input.
The CCWG-Accountability supported the concept of a Fundamental Bylaw that would provide additional robustness to key provisions. The Fundamental Bylaw would apply to:
- the mission;
- the independent review process;
- the power to veto Bylaw changes;
- new community powers such as recall of the Board and the right of the community to veto certain Board actions.
Changes to the Fundamental Bylaws would require high standards for approval by the community.
The notion of an empowered community involved discussion of community representation, i.e. who constitutes the community. The CCWG-Accountability is also aware that to wield these new powers, the community, however it is constituted, must itself meet high standards of accountability. ICANN's accountability would also be enhanced by ensuring its operations and processes are more globally inclusive.
The group has engaged two law firms to provide independent legal advice and confirm feasibility of the suggested frameworks. The firms are Adler & Colvin and Sidley & Austin.
As work progresses, all recommendations will be subject to the stress tests against contingencies already identified. The stress test methodology has been successfully tested against the draft accountability mechanisms.
The CCWG-Accountability is confident that their proposed mechanisms will satisfy the needs of the CWG-Stewardship1 as they look to stronger accountability protections. The CCWG-Accountability and CWG-Stewardship Co-Chairs met to update and fully brief each other on the progress made so far. They outlined key areas of accountability that the CCWG-Accountability Co-Chairs considered are most relevant for the current and ongoing work of the CWG-Stewardship. The CCWG-Accountability Co-Chairs will brief the CWG-Stewardship in the opening part of their face-to-face meeting on Thursday, 26 March.
The CCWG-Accountability will continue refining its recommendations. The community is expected to provide feedback during a public comment period to be held before ICANN 53, Buenos Aires meeting. The results of the public comment period will inform further deliberations during that meeting.
The group is developing an engagement plan to ensure its proposals are widely known and understood, and to encourage comprehensive response to proposals during the public comment period.
The CCWG-Accountability Co-Chairs recognize the outstanding volunteer work that has produced these substantive proposals in a very short period of time. The community's effort has been exceptional.
About the CCWG-Accountability
The CCWG-Accountability was established to ensure that ICANN's accountability and transparency commitments to the global Internet community are maintained and enhanced in the absence of the historical relationship with the U.S. Government.
The group has divided its work into two work streams (WS):
- WS1 is focused on identifying mechanisms enhancing ICANN accountability that must be in place or committed to within the timeframe of the IANA Stewardship Transition;
- WS2 is focused on addressing accountability topics for which a timeline for developing solutions and full implementation may extend beyond the IANA Stewardship Transition.
The CCWG-Accountability consists of 177 people, organized as 26 members, appointed by and accountable to chartering organizations, 151 participants, who participate as individuals, and 46 mailing list observers. The group also includes one ICANN Board liaison, one ICANN staff representative, and one former ATRT member who serves as a liaison. In addition, there are 4 ICG members who participate in the CCWG-Accountability, including two who serve as liaisons between the two groups.
Seven Advisors have also been appointed to contribute research and advice, and to bring perspectives on global best practices to enrich the CCWG-Accountability discussion.
The CCWG-Accountability is an open group: anyone interested in the work of the CCWG-Accountability, can join as a participant or observers. Participants or observers may be from a chartering organization, from a stakeholder group or organization not represented in the CCWG-Accountability or currently active within ICANN, or self-appointed.
For more information on the CCWG-Accountability or to view meeting archives and draft documents, please refer to their dedicated wiki.
A video interview with CCWG-Accountability Co-Chair Thomas Rickert can be seen here.
1 Cross Community Working Group (CWG) to Develop an IANA Stewardship Transition Proposal on Naming Related Functions