by Albert H. Daniels, ICANN Manager for Stakeholder Engagement – The Caribbean
For many, the Caribbean is simply a vacation, wedding or honeymoon destination with white sandy beaches and breathtaking scenery. In reality, the Caribbean is all this and much more; a region of rich cultural and linguistic diversity, with complex social and economic environments.
Jamaica is well known for being the birthplace for Bob Marley and Usain Bolt, Trinidad and Tobago is well known for being the place where the only new musical instrument was invented in the 20th century, the Steel Pan, but other Caribbean territories have as much to offer. Saint Lucia for example which changed hands 14 times between the British and the French is the country with the highest number of Nobel Laureates per capita. With a population of 175,000 there are two, Sir Arthur Lewis who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1979 and Hon. Derek Walcott who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992.
Diversity: Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao are Dutch islands with strong ties to Holland, Martinique, Guadeloupe, and French Guiana are French overseas territories, Puerto Rico is part of the United States and speaks Spanish while the Dominican Republic (half of Santo Domingo) speaks Spanish, and the other half, Haiti speaks French Creole. To add to the confusion the Commonwealth of Dominica speaks English and is referred to as “Dominica” while Santo Domingo is also sometimes referred to as “Dominica“.
At ICANN 48 in Buenos Aires, participants from several of the Caribbean territories got together in an informal social setting where they had the opportunity to meet each other to share experiences and have substantive exchanges on the issues that are of importance to the Caribbean. There were some participants like Tracy Hackshaw, Carlton Samuels and Jacqueline Morris who could well be considered ICANN veterans with over 20 ICANN meetings under their belts in some instances, and others like Craig Nesty and Natalie Rose who were attending their first ICANN meeting and participating in the fellowship program. Additionally there was Rodney Taylor representing the Caribbean Telecommunications Union, one of the newest members of the Governmental Advisory Committee, and Albert Daniels who was attending his first meeting as an ICANN staff member.
Representation in ICANN circles has been traditionally low from the Caribbean mainly due to low financial resources to travel, and the low levels of awareness in some Caribbean territories of the work of ICANN and the importance of participation. The group which met at ICANN 48 has committed to work together and stay in contact to bring a stronger “Caribbean Voice” to ICANN. They also agreed to participate more in priority projects of the Latin America and Caribbean Strategy which were summarized at the gathering by Regional Vice President for Latin America and the Caribbean, Rodrigo de la Parra.
Currently there is Caribbean participation in the GAC, ccNSO, ASO, and ALAC. It is also worth noting that Jorge Villa from the Caribbean island of Cuba was elected to Number Resource Organisation Number Council as the representative for Latin America and the Caribbean. The Caribbean territories present at ICANN 48 were Belize, Cayman Islands, Commonwealth of Dominica, Cuba, Curacao, Haiti, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Saint Lucia, Trinidad & Tobago, and the United States Virgin Islands.