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Accountability and Transparency Are ICANN’s Ongoing Focus

How is ICANN progressing on the recommendations that the Accountability and Transparency Review Team (ATRT) published on the last day of 2010? Let me list the many ways that the Board, the staff, and our volunteer community are addressing the challenge to meet or surpass ICANN’s obligations.

As we prepare to gather in Singapore for ICANN’s 41st meeting, the Board and staff are laying the groundwork for Board action there on the ATRT Report. At its January and March meetings, the Board affirmed the usefulness of the ATRT report in advancing ICANN’s accountability and transparency. It also called for follow-up work from the staff and community and asked Board Committees and the Board-GAC Joint Working Group (JWG) to address specific ATRT recommendations. They also instructed the Board Finance Committee to consider proposed FY 12 ATRT implementation funding.

As these efforts progress, the staff is making significant progress on implementing the ATRT “Board Governance, Performance and Composition” recommendations that are operational and within the staff’s purview. For example, we now regularly post for the public a wealth of Board meeting information: agendas, briefing materials, expanded minutes, rationale statements for Board resolutions, and the resolutions themselves. We also post a significant amount of Board meeting information in six U.N. languages, including resolutions, rationale, minutes and other key material relevant to Board resolutions.

To support these postings, we revised the template used to create Board papers, and we posted the conditions for redacting publicly posted Board briefing materials. We’ve also posted an explanation of the timing of the postings.

The Nominating Committee has followed up on ATRT recommendations to address the composition of the Board, taking voluntary steps such as consulting with Supporting Organizations and Advisory Committees, and holding public consultations on skill set requirements and process improvements at the March ICANN meeting.

Implementation work is in the early stages for ATRT recommendations relating to the “Governmental Advisory Committee’s Role, Effectiveness and Interaction with Board.” The staff has proposed implementation plans and budgets to the GAC and JWG, and awaits their guidance. The Board’s Global Relations Committee has provided initial guidance on Recommendation 14 for increasing the level of support and involvement of governments.

Work is underway to implement the ATRT “Public Input & Public Policy Processes” recommendations. This month a new, more streamlined draft design for Public Comment web pages will launch. New internal staff templates to collect consistent information for each public comment and to report on closed comment periods support the streamlined web design. A focus group of community members will review a draft stratification list – designed to direct the community’s attention to topics of greatest interest – next month. A process to collect and publish an annual list of “Upcoming Public Comments for 2011″ was developed with input from SO/AC leaders and staff, and will be published this month.

Staff also is working to implement ATRT recommendations on “Review Mechanism(s) for Board Decisions.” Initial improvements to the Reconsideration Request web page will be done in the near future, including the addition of status indicators for all requests, and information on Board action arising out of the committee recommendations.

You can find more detailed information on all of these activities on ICANN’s Accountability & Transparency web page.

ICANN has a strong foundation of accountability and transparency-related achievements. We’re building on this to achieve transparency and accountability equal to or greater than that of any other global governance institution, and to meet or surpass ICANN’s obligations. The ATRT will help us reach these goals and we look forward to continued collaboration with them, in Singapore and beyond.


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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."