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ICANN Posts Draft Management Operating Principles for Community Consultation

23 June 2007

In conjunction with the Joint Project Agreement between the U.S. Department of Commerce and ICANN, the ICANN Board of Directors approved an Affirmation of Responsibilities for ICANN's Private Sector Management.

Points 2 and 3 of the Agreement refer to ICANN's intention to continue to develop, test, maintain and improve on mechanisms that encourage improved transparency and accountability. The Agreement references issues such as the adoption of policies related to the technical coordination of the Internet DNS, the funding of ICANN operations in terms of transparency and improved participation.

As part of this commitment to continuously improving transparency and accountability, ICANN commenced a process of consultation with the community on the development of a set of Management Operating Principles. At that stage of the process the community made it clear that consideration of this issue should not be rushed.

In December 2006, ICANN commissioned an independent review of its transparency and accountability from the One World Trust. It received that report at the ICANN Lisbon meeting in March, 2007. ICANN produced a response to the report on June 7, 2007.

Simultaneously, a number of measures relating to accountability and transparency were introduced by ICANN. These include:

  • Expanded Board minutes meetings with 72 hour turnaround to the community;
  • An Annual Report;
  • A community blog;
  • A public participation site;
  • The appointment of General Manager Public Participation;
  • A new more navigable and accessible website;

In addition to these measures improvements to the Strategic and Operating Plan processes were also produced. This year the budget planning process was further improved with the budget being translated into different languages to ensure further scrutiny and consultation and it is also linked to the funding of projects of interest identified by the community.

On May 8 2007, ICANN issued a request for comment to assess the impact of these and any other initiatives. A summary and analysis of this input was provided on June 20.

The One World Trust Review found that ICANN was overall a very transparent organization, sharing through its website probably more information than any other global organization. One World Trust used an analytical framework that was developed over four years to identify the core dimensions of accountability that organizations need to have in place. Those four dimensions are transparency, participation, complaint and response mechanisms, and evaluation.

Frameworks and Principles

ICANN also has a range of existing external legal and internal rule based accountabilities. Some of these reside in different ICANN documents such as the bylaws. Others reside in the laws that govern ICANN’s incorporation. Still others reside in the budget or through the operating and strategic plans. Like the large amounts of information available through ICANN’s website, those accountabilities have never been outlined concisely and in collected form. For example, there has been no clear set of information disclosure principles, no clear participation framework, no clear translation framework and no organisational code of conduct. The draft principles and frameworks for accountability released for discussion today strive to achieve this purpose.

These are presented in draft form for discussion and development with the community.

There remains a belief that ICANN can do more to improve accountability. These draft documents are another step to elicit any improvements.

None of the documents posted today pre-empt outcomes of any review of the Board or other reviews currently underway or planned.

They do not replace the bylaws but provide an overview of ICANN’s key mechanisms for accountability and set out the frameworks and principles that will guide important interactions within the ICANN community.

The draft documents released today will be translated into other languages and will be available in three weeks.

ICANN is seeking community input at a workshop during its San Juan meeting and through an online forum that can be found at http://forum.icann.org/lists/draft-mop-2007. You can send your comments to the forum by emailing draft-mop-2007@icann.org.

Comments will be received until 31 August.

A complete summary and analysis of community feedback will be made available at the end of the comment period and a revised draft will be posted for further comment. There will be a publicly available assessment of the impact that the input and comment had on the development of the next draft. It is hoped that the re-drafted principles and frameworks for accountability will be approved by the Board at the Los Angeles meeting in October 2007.

In considering these draft documents ICANN would like feedback on the following:

  • This is the first time that ICANN’s existing accountabilities have been collected in one place. Is this helpful?
  • Was there anything presented that was unexpected or unknown?
  • What more can be done to strengthen ICANN’s accountability?
  • What more could be done to improve upon the existing processes for the Strategic and Operating plans and the budget?
  • What more needs to be done to improve upon the draft translation framework?
  • What more could be done to improve participation and the draft framework?
  • Is the draft information disclosure policy suitable for ICANN’s needs?
  • Is the draft code of conduct suitable for ICANN’s needs?
  • Are the mechanisms for dispute resolution suitable for ICANN’s needs?

In answering the above, providing clear evidence to support assertions as well as identifying any organizations that have mechanisms beyond those that ICANN relies upon, will greatly assist in understanding what improvements can be made.

ICANN is a unique model of governance befitting an organization that has as its mission the coordination of the Internet’s unique identifiers. It is made so by an active and interested community.

Accordingly, ICANN needs an enduring set of guiding principles and frameworks by which it is held accountable and by which its actions are made transparent.

They will only endure if they have the confidence of the community. That confidence can only develop based on a common understanding of the accountabilities that presently apply and an honest and open discussion about what should be improved.

ICANN is committed to achieving both.