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CCWG-Accountability Issues Formal Update on Progress Made In and After ICANN54 in Dublin

15 November 2015

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This is a brief and preliminary overview of the proposal for improving ICANN's accountability developed by the Cross Community Working Group on Enhancing ICANN Accountability (CCWG-Accountability) over the past year. It includes a very high-level summary of the main changes being proposed by the community and outlines what will be described in the full proposal.

This 36-page document is designed to update the community on recent progress in and after ICANN54 in Dublin and raise awareness of the proposed enhancements to ICANN's accountability as a more detailed proposal is finalized. While this formal update reflects the current consensus positions of the group, there are outstanding elements that remain to be finalized. These finishing details are highlighted in the document, and will be confirmed and detailed in the Third Draft Proposal.

Download the Formal Update here:

English [PDF, 1.2 MB]
العربية [PDF, 1.05 MB]
Español [PDF, 569 KB]
Français [PDF, 865 KB]
Português [PDF, 775 KB]
Pусский [PDF, 1.02 MB]
中文 [PDF, 1.13 MB]

The full Third Draft Proposal on Work Stream 1 Recommendations will be shared with the public on 30 November 2015, which will include further explanation and detail about the accountability improvements outlined in this document. It will also explain why the changes have been suggested, how the community arrived at these recommendations and the options considered and ultimately rejected in development of the proposal.

We welcome feedback on this document, and encourage all interested stakeholders to view the full proposal for any outstanding questions or concerns.


Over the last year, a working group of ICANN community members has been developing a set of proposed enhancements to ICANN's accountability to the global Internet community.

This effort is integral to the transition of the United States' stewardship of the IANA functions to the global Internet community, reflecting the ICANN community's conclusion that improvements to ICANN's accountability were necessary in the absence of the accountability backstop that the historical contractual relationship with the United States government provided. The accountability improvements set out in this document are not designed to change ICANN's multistakeholder model, the bottom-up nature of policy development nor significantly alter ICANN's day-to-day operations.

The main elements of the proposal are outlined below. Together with ICANN's existing structures and groups, these accountability enhancements will ensure ICANN remains accountable to the global Internet community.

  • A revised Mission statement for the ICANN Bylaws that sets out what ICANN does. This Mission statement clarifies but does not change ICANN's historic mission
  • An enhanced Independent Review Process and redress process with a broader scope and the power to ensure ICANN stays within its revised Mission
  • New specific powers for the ICANN community that can be enforced when the usual methods of discussion and dialogue have not effectively built consensus including the powers to:
    • Reject ICANN Budgets, Operating Plans or Strategic Plans
    • Reject changes to ICANN's Bylaws
    • Approve changes to new Fundamental Bylaws (see below)
    • Remove an individual ICANN Director from the Board
    • Recall the entire ICANN Board
  • An additional new power that gives the community a say in decisions about the IANA Function Reviews and any separation of the IANA Names Functions
  • All of these community powers can only be exercised after extensive community discussions and debates through processes of engagement and escalation. The process of escalation provides many opportunities for the resolution of disagreements between the parties before formal action is required.

The accountability elements outlined above will be supported through:

  • Additions to the ICANN Bylaws to create an Empowered Community that is based on a simple legal vehicle that will act on the instructions of ICANN stakeholder groups to exercise the Community Powers. The Empowered Community is granted the status of a Designator (a recognized role in law) and has the standing to enforce the Community Powers if needed.
  • Core elements of ICANN's governing documents (the Articles and Bylaws) being categorized as Fundamental Bylaws that can only be changed with agreement between the ICANN community and the ICANN Board.

In addition, further proposed changes include:

  • A recognition of ICANN's respect for Human Rights
  • Incorporation of ICANN's commitments under the 2009 Affirmation of Commitments with the United States Department of Commerce into the Bylaws, where appropriate
  • Improved accountability and diversity for ICANN's Supporting Organizations and Advisory Committees
  • A commitment to discuss additional accountability improvements and broader accountability enhancements in 2016, following implementation of this core set of accountability improvements

To develop these recommendations to improve ICANN's accountability, the Working Group:

  • Relied on suggestions and proposals generated inside the Working Group and by the broader Internet multistakeholder community
  • Conducted public comment periods to gather feedback on earlier drafts and discussed iterations of its recommendations across the world at ICANN meetings and through online webinars
  • Rigorously "stress tested" ICANN's current and proposed accountability mechanisms to test their strength against problematic scenarios the organization could potentially face
  • Engaged two external law firms to ensure the legal reliability of the proposed accountability enhancements
  • Made the minimum enhancements to ICANN's accountability necessary to meet the baseline requirements of the community, as required for the IANA Stewardship Transition
  • Met the requirements of the group that developed the IANA Stewardship Transition proposal for the Domain Names community
  • Met the requirements of the U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Agency for the IANA Stewardship Transition

We look forward to your thoughts and feedback on our Third Draft Proposal on Enhancing ICANN Accountability.