Read ICANN Blogs to stay informed of the latest policymaking activities, regional events, and more.

ICANN Success at the United Nations

10 October 2014
By Grace Abuhamad

In addition to the ICANN Languages, this content is also available in


Earlier this week, ICANN co-hosted an informal discussion on Developing Countries and Internet Governance at the UN Headquarters in New York. Sponsored by the Permanent Mission of the Arab Republic of Egypt to the UN, the luncheon brought together more than 70 representatives from 45 countries and Intergovernmental organizations. A subject-matter expert group represented ICANN; Tarek Kamel, Senior adviser to the President; George Sadowsky, member of the Board of Directors; and Veni Markovski – ICANN's Vice President leading engagement with the UN in NewYork.

ICANN around the table co-hosting informal discussion at the UN Headquarters in New York

Egyptian Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Amr Aboulatta, opened the luncheon. Bolivian Permanent Representative, Ambassador Sacha Sergio Llorentty Soliz followed, addressing the group in his capacity as Chairman of the G77, citing information and communications technology as a priority on the UN development agenda and commenting on the success of the NetMundial meeting in Brazil this past April. Elia Armstrong of UNDESA, which has oversight over the Internet Governance Forum, discussed three issues: the importance of the Internet for development in an interconnected world; the opportunities and challenges that countries face in that development; and the importance of international cooperation through WSIS.

Tarek Kamel and George Sadowsky spoke about the history and formation of ICANN, the WSIS process, and current ICANN projects such as the new gTLD program and IDNs. Tarek reiterated the fact that ICANN's primary task is to coordinate the Internet's unique identifiers, and make sure the DNS remains 'secure, stable and resilient'. He highlighted the many steps ICANN has taken towards achieving globalization. Both Tarek and George talked about the role of developing countries in discussions of Internet governance, and how much their voices are needed. They also stressed to the audience the importance of their contribution in preserving an Internet ecosystem that is open, united, and prepared to welcome the next billion users online.

UN Representative, Amr Aboulatta and Senior adviser to the ICANN President, Tarek Kamel adressing the group

Tarek referred to the study from the Boston Consulting Group [PDF, 983 KB] as a way to quantify the benefit of the Internet to growing economies. In conclusion, he said, "We need your political input and your participation in these processes. We look forward to constructive dialogue about the development of ICANN over the next twelve months." Veni Markovski shared the goal, developed by ICANN's government engagement team, to continue regular briefings with the UN missions, engage in bilateral meetings, provide factual information to diplomats, and to take part in discussions around the UN Second Committee agenda dealing with ICT for development.

There were questions concerning the role of governments at ICANN and in the Internet governance ecosystem as a whole. The discussion also noted the fragmentation of the Internet and the disproportionate negative effect it has had on developing countries. In addition, attendees were interested in the significance and meaning of the U.S. government announcement of its intent to transition the stewardship of the IANA functions. Finally, there was some discussion about different governance models for different technologies, and coordinating through the WSIS process, and the WSIS+10 meetings in 2015.

Participants seemed satisfied with what they learned about ICANN, its engagement with the UN, and the latest developments in the Internet governance discussions taking place around the world.

The briefing exceeded ICANN's expectations in all respects and there was interest expressed in a follow up session after the ITU Plenipotentiary. In the meantime, Veni will continue to promote interest in ICANN around the UN

One side note; Tarek and Veni also had an hour-long meeting with the UN assistant secretary-general Thomas Gass (UNDESA), with whom they discussed ICANN support for the IGF and WSIS follow-up. It was noted that cooperation between UNDESA and ICANN on this subject is important, and should continue both in New York and in Geneva.


Grace Abuhamad