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Interim Report of Geographic Regions Review Working Group Published For Public Comment

The Interim Report of the community-wide working group reviewing ICANN’s Geographic Regions is now available for public comment. All members of the ICANN community are invited to review that document [PDF, 356 KB] and share comments and observations with the community through 30 January 2011.


Geographic diversity is a fundamental component of the ICANN organization. The ICANN Bylaws (Article VI Section 5) currently define five geographic regions as Africa, North America, Latin America/Caribbean, Asia/Australia/Pacific and Europe.

The ICANN Geographic Regions were originally created to ensure regional diversity in the composition of the ICANN Board and were subsequently expanded in various ways to apply to the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO), At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC) and the Country Code Names Supporting Organization (ccNSO). An ICANN Board resolution in 2000 directed Staff to assign countries to geographic regions on the basis of the United Nations Statistics Division's current classifications, and introduced the concept of "citizenship" in relation to the definition of ICANN Geographic Regions.

Over time, the ccNSO has developed concerns about the implementation of the ICANN Geographic Regions and related representational issues. The ccNSO Council approved a resolution in 2007 recommending that the ICANN Board appoint a community-wide working group to further study and review the issues related to the definition of the ICANN Geographic Regions, to consult with all stakeholders and submit proposals to the Board to resolve the issues relating to the current definition of the ICANN Geographic Regions.

The Board determined at its meeting in Los Angeles on 2 November 2007, that because any potential change to ICANN Geographic Regions could have widespread effect in ICANN, the views of other Supporting Organizations and Advisory Committees should be sought by the Board. The Board asked the ICANN community, including the GNSO, ccNSO, the Address Supporting Organization (ASO), GAC, and ALAC, to provide the ICANN Staff with input on the ccNSO Council's resolution relating to ICANN's Geographic Regions - including the proposal to appoint a community-wide working group to review the structure of ICANN’s present Geographic Regions and related issues, as suggested by the ccNSO.

The community supported the concept of the working group and the Board authorized its formation at its December 2008 Meeting (see - The Board approved the Charter of the working group at its public meeting in Sydney Australia (see - Copies of the Charter, in all six UN languages, are available at -

The Working Group’s Initial Report was published in July 2009 -

Explanation of the Interim Report Document:

This Interim Report document of the Working Group attempts to build on the foundation of the group’s Initial Report and assesses the degree to which the uses of ICANN’s Geographic Regions (as currently defined, or at all) continue to meet the requirements of the relevant stakeholders.

This document begins to focus on General Principles, Specific Considerations and some of the critical issues that it will address in its Final Report document. This document addresses three specific areas. It offers (1) a review of the underlying history, objectives and general principles of ICANN’s Geographic Regions Framework; (2) it raises a number of fundamental strategic questions for further community consideration; and (3) it expands on a number of specific matters identified in the Initial Report that are likely to be addressed in the Final Report. Community members should pay particular attention to the questions posed in the second section of the report and use them as inspiration for specific comments and observations.

The community is invited to submit comments regarding the contents of this document by 30 January 2011 at the latest.

Relevant Board Resolution, Bylaws and Background Documents:

The Process From Here:

At the end of this public comment forum period, the ICANN Staff will provide a summary/analysis of the comments submitted regarding the Interim Report document. That summary/analysis will be shared with the community and the Working Group. The Working Group will use the community input to guide its deliberations and future work on its Final Report document to be produced next year.

The working group will also host a public workshop at the upcoming ICANN public meeting Cartagena, Columbia. Please check the Cartagena meeting schedule – for information about that meeting.

Deadline and How to Submit Comments:

The Staff is opening a public consultation forum, from today through 30 January 2011, and invites community comments on this topic.

The formal Public Comment Forum Box is located here:

To submit comments:

To view comments:

Staff Responsible: Robert Hoggarth

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Internationalized Domain Name ,IDN,"IDNs are domain names that include characters used in the local representation of languages that are not written with the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet ""a-z"". An IDN can contain Latin letters with diacritical marks, as required by many European languages, or may consist of characters from non-Latin scripts such as Arabic or Chinese. Many languages also use other types of digits than the European ""0-9"". The basic Latin alphabet together with the European-Arabic digits are, for the purpose of domain names, termed ""ASCII characters"" (ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange). These are also included in the broader range of ""Unicode characters"" that provides the basis for IDNs. The ""hostname rule"" requires that all domain names of the type under consideration here are stored in the DNS using only the ASCII characters listed above, with the one further addition of the hyphen ""-"". The Unicode form of an IDN therefore requires special encoding before it is entered into the DNS. The following terminology is used when distinguishing between these forms: A domain name consists of a series of ""labels"" (separated by ""dots""). The ASCII form of an IDN label is termed an ""A-label"". All operations defined in the DNS protocol use A-labels exclusively. The Unicode form, which a user expects to be displayed, is termed a ""U-label"". The difference may be illustrated with the Hindi word for ""test"" — परीका — appearing here as a U-label would (in the Devanagari script). A special form of ""ASCII compatible encoding"" (abbreviated ACE) is applied to this to produce the corresponding A-label: xn--11b5bs1di. A domain name that only includes ASCII letters, digits, and hyphens is termed an ""LDH label"". Although the definitions of A-labels and LDH-labels overlap, a name consisting exclusively of LDH labels, such as"""" is not an IDN."