Skip to main content

Chair’s Blog: Our Sympathies

Our community has sustained a tragic loss. It is with great sadness that I offer condolences on behalf of the ICANN Board on the passing of Stéphane Van Gelder.

Stéphane was an active member of the ICANN community for many years, serving as Vice Chair and Chair of the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) Council; Chair of the ICANN Nominating Committee (NomCom), and most recently, as the Vice-Chair for Policy in the Registries Stakeholder Group, among many other roles, both formal and informal.

His impact on Internet Governance and his accomplishments extended well beyond his involvement with ICANN, ranging from recent achievements such as the launch of TLD Fastrack Limited, advising prospective new generic top-level domain registry operators, and co-founding French registrar Indom. He has served on the Board of AFNIC, the non-profit organization that manages French top-level suffixes, and the French chapter of the Internet Society.

While Chair of the GNSO Council, Stéphane oversaw and shepherded some important milestones and achievements in the GNSO. These ranged from the completion of an overhaul of the GNSO's operating procedures; the establishment of the joint DNS Security & Stability Analysis working group with the ALAC, ccNSO and NRO; completion of the Fast Flux, Post-Expiration Domain Name Recovery and Inter-Registrar Transfer Policy (IRTP) Part B Policy Development Processes (PDPs) and the joint ccNSO-GNSO Internationalized Domain Name working group; launch of the IRTP Part C, Thick WHOIS and Locking of Domain Names subject to Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) Proceedings PDPs; and continuing work on WHOIS studies, registration abuse policies, and multiple other GNSO projects. His tenure as Chair also saw the completion of the Applicant Guidebook for the 2012 New gTLD Program and the launch of the Program.

The 2017 NomCom 360 Leadership Evaluation said it all…

“Stéphane did a great job as an advisor to the Chair. His leadership style is informal, but he is quite direct and to-the-point when dealing with people. Other words describing Stéphane’s leadership style are: structured, disciplined, focused, non-biased, involved and mission-directed. In addition, he is diplomatic, fair, respectful and sensitive with people. In particular, he is compassionate and patient, and he devotes the needed time to those whose first language is not English. Stéphane is very much a consensus builder, encouraging participation by all. He is quite good at establishing relationships and moderating tensions. He is a very likeable fellow.”

In his 2010 candidate statement for GNSO Council Chair, he stated, “Before starting INDOM, I was a print and TV journalist for 10 years. This meant staying curious about everything; interacting with people of different backgrounds; having the necessary confidence to express myself in public; talk or write in a way that remains accessible to people with different knowledge, attention and experience levels; and having a strong respect for the truth and for the facts.”

Stéphane always brought his people-oriented approach to ICANN. He was open minded, he was kind, and he was curious. He was smart, witty and an exceptional conversationalist. He championed fair representation and valued the discourse that emerged from the multiple interests and diverse viewpoints across the community. His impact on the ICANN community, and on many of us individually, cannot be overstated. Stéphane was a wonderful colleague, a great collaborator and a good friend. We will remember him fondly and we send our deepest condolences to his wife, children, family, and friends.


    Domain Name System
    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."