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Clarifying the Roles of the ICANN Complaints Office and Ombudsman

18 May 2017
By and

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Last month, the ICANN organization officially launched its Complaints Office, which serves a complimentary role to ICANN’s existing complaints processes, such as Contractual Compliance, Request for Reconsideration and the Ombudsman. However, we have noticed some confusion about the difference between the scope of the Complaints Office and the Office of the Ombudsman. We hope that this blog will help clarify and differentiate the roles and scopes of our offices.

  Ombudsman Complaints Officer
  • Independent function, reporting to the ICANN Board, not to the ICANN Organization
  • Established in the ICANN Bylaws
  • A function within the ICANN Organization
  • Established by the CEO
Reports To
  • ICANN Board (per ICANN Bylaws)
  • The Ombudsman is independent from the rest of the ICANN Organization
  • ICANN Organization, directly reporting to the General Counsel
  • Works with the ICANN Organization Executive Team and employees
Visibility Level
  • Confidential process
  • Transparency is the default, but that may be restricted if requested by complainant
  • Investigates complaints from ICANN community members who believe that ICANN staff, Board or an ICANN constituent body has treated them unfairly
  • May investigate systemic issues of unfairness
  • Evaluates issues and complaints related to the ICANN Organization.
    • For example, issues that may be related to how a request was handled, a process that appears to be broken, insufficient handling of an issue
  • May investigate systemic organizational issues

We fully anticipate that there will be some overlap – especially in the early stages – between the complaints received by our offices, so we’ll be working together to direct complaints to each other when appropriate. While our work will be separate, and we report to different parts of the ICANN ecosystem, we both aim to provide more accountability and transparency for the ICANN organization, Board and community, in service of ICANN’s mission.

As a reminder, it is expected that the Complaints Office and its processes will continue to develop and evolve over time. If you have any questions, ideas, suggestions or comments about the Complaints Office, please feel free to contact Krista directly.

For more information about the Complaints Office, please visit here.

For more information about the Office of the Ombudsman, please visit here.


Krista Papac

Krista Papac

Complaints Officer
Herb Waye

Herb Waye

ICANN Ombudsman