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ICANN59 Ombuds Harassment Complaint

11 August 2017

Herb WayeHerb Waye, ICANN Ombudsman

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I'm writing this blog because I received a complaint that has since been resolved with an apology.

The complaint bothered me because it involved historic events that took place before most of us were born. I will not go into details, but it did involve: a) behavior that was perceived to be harassment, b) a request to stop that was respected, and c) a departing comment that enflamed the incident to the point that my intervention was requested.

International or domestic conflict, politics, war, genocide, racism, sexism, religion, you name it - we all carry around beliefs and biases passed on from generation to generation. Or that are being developed and influenced by incidents happening around the world today. Or a mixture of both.

What does that have to do with ICANN? ICANN brings people together from around the world and asks them to be productive, constructive, respectful, civil, and to embrace diversity as a value that makes the community stronger. And generally, it works.

Personal beliefs and biases are unfortunately not something that can be easily supressed. It requires conscious effort to suppress things that one may profoundly believe. Despite one's best intentions (and this rarely happens, thankfully) prejudices can surface and take everyone by surprise.

We cannot, and never should, condone inappropriate, harassing, or disrespectful behavior. We all harbor biases, prejudices, dislike, and even hate. It has unequivocally no place in a society or organization like ICANN that values multiculturalism and diversity.

I ask each one of you to feel comfortable bringing these incidents to my attention, or to the attention of any of the leaders in the community or organization. Whether you are a witness or a victim of harassment or inappropriate behavior, the ICANN community and organization will stand with you to make our environment a safe, respectful, and harassment free place for all.

Herb Waye
Herb Waye
ICANN Ombudsman

Herb Waye

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