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Training Wheels Off

11 April 2014
By Fadi Chehadé


My sons are adults now but I remember like it was yesterday teaching them how to ride their bikes. Removing the training wheels from their bicycles was an important milestone, but it didn’t mean that I was ready to leave them on their own to ride the neighborhood. As they got used to being on two wheels instead of four, I was right there beside them, ready to correct and guide.

I can’t help but see the parallels when I think about the U.S. government’s announcement last month. The U.S. government came to the conclusion that the global Internet community is now ready to assume stewardship of ICANN’s performance as the administrator of the IANA functions. It feels like the moment when the multistakeholder community’s training wheels come off.

Our hard work for the last 15 years has led us to this milestone, when the U.S. government acknowledged that we as a community have performed our work with distinction and in alignment with our mission.

It is with great humility that we accept this trust and begin the work of developing and strengthening the accountability mechanisms that will be needed to give the world confidence.

During ICANN’s 49th Public Meeting in Singapore in March 2014, we launched a public dialogue on what the process for transitioning from the U.S. government’s stewardship should look like. On 8 April, we posted the initial results of that dialogue, along with a scoping document [PDF, 456 KB]written based on feedback from the community, and consistent with previous discussions.

Specifically, I wish to assure you that the U.S. government, including the NTIA, has approved the scoping document [PDF, 456 KB], and it is consistent with the views of the leaders of various Internet organizations including the Internet Engineering Task Force, the Internet Society and the Regional Internet Registries.

In addition to the public dialogue on the process for the transition of the U.S. government’s stewardship role, we launched at the same time in Singapore a second public dialogue on the broader discussion of how to strengthen the ICANN’s accountability. This second dialogue will look at strengthening existing accountability mechanisms like the Affirmation of Commitments, and ICANN’s redress mechanisms, as well as exploring new accountability mechanisms where necessary. We will share documents on the scope and proposed process of this second dialogue shortly.

These two dialogues will run in parallel, as they are certainly inter-related and will inform each other. A key difference is that the first process will be a public dialogue held in various venues across the global Internet community with a goal of developing the transition proposal requested by the U.S. government. The second is related to ICANN structures and the ICANN community, and the dialogue will mainly occur in the ICANN community while open to all.

These two public dialogues are real-time demonstrations of just how open and inclusive the ICANN community is, and will further prove to the world that we have earned the U.S. government’s confidence in our processes. This is our time to show that the multistakeholder model no longer needs its training wheels. It is ready for a long, steady ride forward.


Fadi Chehadé

Former President & CEO