ICANN Posts Accountability Frameworks Documents

12 February 2006

ICANN welcomes the ccNSO's "Guidelines for ccTLD managers Accountability Framework discussions with ICANN" recently published by the ccNSO. The guidelines are the result of consultation among the ccTLD community and they provide a basis for ccTLD managers and ICANN to formalize their existing relationship.

ICANN would welcome the opportunity to discuss an accountability framework with all ccTLD managers. To assist this process, two documents have been developed for ccTLD managers to consider as a starting point to discussions.

The first is an Accountability Framework document. This document contains not only clauses stating the obligations of a ccTLD manager and ICANN, but also covers dispute resolution and termination. It is designed to cater to those ccTLD managers who require a more 'formal' document with ICANN.

The second is an exchange of letters, designed for those who would be more comfortable with simple statements of commitment.

Depending on the preference of the individual ccTLD, either document may be used as a starting point for discussion. There is flexibility to tailor either document to suit the specific requirements of individual ccTLD operators, for example reflecting the ccTLD managers' duty to serve their community and nation as outlined in RFC 1591.

This more lightweight approach to formalizing existing relationships is offered as an alternative to Sponsorship Agreements.


As the Internet has evolved over time, and commercialized, one of the areas of interest of stakeholders has been the establishment of appropriate mechanisms to recognize responsible entities and to reflect informal relationships, thereby clarifying respective roles and responsibilities. Thereby, one of the requirements under ICANN's Memorandum of Understanding with the U.S. Government for completion of the transition to a global private-sector technical coordination of the Internet through ICANN is that ICANN develop appropriate relationships with other entities involved in the Internet's operation, to allow it to meet its technical-management responsibilities in a manner that ensures continued stable operation of the Internet. These entities include the managers of the ccTLDs as well as those governments of the affected countries or territories that are prepared tocontribute to the overall coordination effort. With regard to ccTLDs specifically, under a September 2000 update to the Memorandum of Understanding, completion of the transition to private-sector coordination requires achieving "stable agreements with the organizations operating country-code top level domains" covering redelegation issues, allocations of policy formulation responsibilities, and relationships with relevant governments or public authorities.

Since 2000, ICANN has been working with managers of ccTLDs (the two-letter TLDs that have been established for countries and some territories) to document their relationship with ICANN. These relationships are complex, because of the varying circumstances (in terms of type of organization, policies followed, economics, language, culture, legal environment, and relations with governments) of different ccTLDs and the organizations that operate them.

ICANN has formalized relationships with a number of ccTLD managers, such as .au, .jp and .ke through sponsorship agreements. However, in recognition that these agreements are very detailed documents ICANN sought the ccNSO's assistance to develop a broadly agreed set of baseline criteria which could form the basis for what has become known as an accountability framework. ICANN could develop an accountability framework document based on the broadly agreed baselines, with the flexibility to individually tailor the document in respect of individual ccTLD circumstances. The document would be as lightweight as possible.

The initial request for assistance was made at the ICANN meeting in Kuala Lumpur in July 2004.

The ccNSO subsequently formed an Accountability Frameworks Working Group comprising members of the ccNSO and the broader ccTLD community. In addition to discussion among members of the working group, significant discussions were also held during ccNSO meetings in Cape Town, Mar del Plata and Luxembourg.

On 14 December 2005, the ccNSO Council resolved to publish the Accountability Framework Working Group Interim Report as guidelines for ccTLD managers to consider when discussing an accountability framework with ICANN. On 19 December 2005, the Council published the resolution to the ccNSO members list and as seven days has lapsed since this publication without objection the guidelines are now operational. The guidelines were published on the ICANN ccNSO website on 6 January 2006.

If you would like further information please send your request to AFenquiries@icann.org.