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ALAC Review Report Comments on Ombudsman Reports

1 August 2008
By Office of the Ombudsman

This blog was updated 14 May 2024.

The following is quoted from page 75 of the Independent Review of the ALAC, and the report may be found at http://www.icann.org/en/reviews/alac/final-draft-13jun08.pdf

7.6 Ombudsman procedures

The WCL Review Team was made aware of two public reports published following investigations by the Ombudsman during late 2006 and early 2007. The first investigation followed an appeal against voting procedures, and the second related to the rejection of an application for ALS status.

In both cases the Ombudsman found that certain aspects of ALAC procedure were unsatisfactory and made several recommendations. In particular he stressed the need for the ALAC to act more uniformly and promptly regarding ALS applications. These recommendations resulted in a number of procedural changes and also some changes to the ICANN bylaws. Based on input from submitters, we believe these investigations and subsequent reports created a degree of tension between some members of the ALAC and the Ombudsman.

In addition, we have been unable to ascertain whether the second report has been closed, with all issues finalised. We note that the ICANN Board discussed this report during a teleconference in June 2007, however we have been unable to locate subsequent documentation.


If there are any outstanding issues relating to Ombudsman report 06-317, the Board should review all recommendations to ensure they have been resolved.

I note the recommendation made by the independent reviewers, and comment that ICANN has yet to respond to my recommendations made in February 2007. (http://www.icann.org/ombudsman/documents/report-15feb07.pdf)

My report at the Paris Meeting Public Forum stated:

“Today, I want to discuss the need for an accountability loop between the role and function of the Ombudsman and the organization it serves.

It is said that an Ombudsman is:

… an independent, objective investigator of people’s complaints against government agencies and other organisations, both public and private sectors. After a fair, thorough review, the ombudsman decides if the complaint is justified and makes recommendations to the organisation in order to resolve the problem.

United States Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis has said “Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.”

In these two comments, one sees the basis of a relationship between the ombudsman, the organization or the state. The ombudsman acts as the electric light through the recommendation reporting process. He shines light on the dark areas of systemic or individual unfairness. Once the light has illuminated issues which require redress, it becomes the responsibility of the organization to act upon the ombudsman’s recommendations, or to reject them. Most ombudsman statutes provide timelines by which the state or organization must respond to the ombudsman and provide information as to how the recommendations have been implemented to redress unfairness, or to provide reasons why the recommendations may not be practical.

This process of recommendation making, and reply from the entity which has been the subject of an ombudsman enquiry ensures to the community served by the entity and its ombudsman that issues of concern are fairly dealt with.

In February 2007, I made a set of 12 recommendations to the ICANN Board of Directors (http://www.icann.org/ombudsman/documents/report-15feb07.pdf), outlining what I believed to be were important steps for systemic improvements, following a detailed enquiry regarding voting practices with the 15feb07.pdfALAC. I am disappointed that, as of June 3, 2008, my Office has not been informed as to what actions the Board or ALAC has taken to implement these recommendations. I am aware that one of recommendations has been implemented, as the applicant I viewed as being unfairly treated has been given status as an At Large Structure. Mr. Chairman, I do hope that ICANN will respond to my recommendations in due course.”


Office of the Ombudsman