ICANN’s Role in the Internet Governance Ecosystem

31 January 2014
By Vint Cerf

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Convene, Confer, Consult, Advise, Expire

Launched in mid October 2013, the Strategy Panel on ICANN’s Role in the Internet Governance Ecosystem  that I chair, operates under a maxim and axiom it crafted to illustrate its mission: Convene, confer, consult, advise, expire.

Tasked to inform the ICANN Strategic Planning process1, the Strategy Panel on ICANN’s Role in the Internet Governance Ecosystem has been entrusted with a clear set of deliverables on which it will provide strategic recommendations towards the end of this month:

  • Facilitate review of the assumptions, linkages and frameworks that underlie ICANN’s responsibilities in the current Internet ecosystem;
  • Seek insights on ways to maintain and enhance ICANN’s stewardship in an evolving ecosystem; and
  • Cultivate thought leadership on ways in which ICANN can serve a complex set of Internet constituencies.
  • Provide a set of guiding principles to ensure the successful evolution of ICANN’s transnational multistakeholder model in cooperation with national and international bodies;
  • Propose a roadmap for evolving and globalizing ICANN’s role in the Internet governance ecosystem in consultation with global players; and
  • In coordination with the many other global players and ICANN stakeholders, propose a framework for implementation of ICANN’s role, objectives and milestones in global Internet governance.

On 13 and 15 January 20142, the Panel walked interested community members through the preliminary conclusions it had reached and sought reactions to its preamble observations. The Panel opened its webinar sessions (archives can be found at: http://www.icann.org/en/about/planning/strategic-engagement/governance-ecosystem) by rearticulating the mission it was entrusted with and providing historical ICANN assumptions. It reported its decision to adopt the World Summit on the Information Society definition of governance and clarified its working definition of stewardship. To appreciate the composition of the Internet ecosystem, the Panel explained that it chose to describe the Internet ecosystem as a layered structure, spelling out its characteristics, dynamics and subtleties by this means. The Panel shared its interpretation of ICANN’s involvement within the ecosystem arena and presented maps it developed to illustrate and conceptualize ICANN’s web of relationships and network of interests. The Panel submitted the set of draft principles it had reached to the interested community members for comment and invited them to identify milestones they deemed appropriate for the evolution of ICANN’s role in the Internet Governance ecosystem (roadmap). You may view the Panel’s preamble observations and graphics at: http://www.icann.org/en/about/learning/webinars/ecosystem-15jan14-en.pdf.

Be part of the journey!

The Panel has developed questions to which it wishes to call your attention.

  1. What would you consider important elements for an Internet governance eco-system roadmap to develop ‘inter’ and ‘intra’-operative Internet Governance Policy? (goal being to reduce Internet governance tension and friction? 
  2. In the context of ICANN, what are important aspects of it’s evolution, including it’s globalization including it’s relationship with stakeholders, governments and the USG? 
  3. What components of a roadmap should be in place for ICANN’s relationships with other organizations, including those in the Internet eco-system? 
  4. Are there any specific areas of ICANN’s existing work could be done differently to better evolve it’s globalization and role in the Internet governance eco-system? 
  5. We are also very interested in hearing general comments from the community on areas that you think that we should be addressing in our report.

ICANN Strategy Panels serve as an integral part of a framework for cross-community dialogue. The Strategy Panel is eager to hear your unique perspective and reactions to its preamble observations and findings. Your feedback and contributions are key to the success of this project and will be carefully considered, as the Panel prepares to offer its strategic recommendations. You may share your feedback via two different avenues:

Strategy Panels’ strategic recommendations will be posted for public comment through April 2014 and will be discussed at the upcoming ICANN 49 meeting in Singapore (23-27 March 2014).

The Strategy Panels will serve as an integral part of a framework for cross-community dialogue on strategic matters. Designed to concentrate on critical strategic areas identified by the community, Board, and staff [PDF, 209 KB], the work of these panels will build on public input being generated to inform a new, overarching vision and five-year strategic plan. public comment. See http://www.icann.org/en/about/planning/strategic-engagement

The webinar archives (transcript, recording, chat transcript and slides) may be found at: http://www.icann.org/en/news/announcements/announcement-06jan14-en.htm.


Vint Cerf

Former ICANN Board Chair