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Increasing the Asia Pacific Community’s Participation in the Multistakeholder Model, Part 2

Apac community participation 750x425 17nov17 en

In an earlier blog, I wrote about why our Asia Pacific (APAC) community needs to participate in ICANN. To do that, we need to understand the multistakeholder model, which is applied from the bottom-up, not the top-down.

In this blog, I will illustrate how this model works with an example closer to home.

Bottom-Up Governance in Action: The Asia Pacific Regional Internet Governance Forum (APrIGF)

To give you some background, the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is a multistakeholder forum where policy discussions take place on issues related to Internet governance. For the uninitiated, learn more about the IGF here.

A regional version of the IGF, the APrIGF serves as a platform for discussion, exchange, and collaboration with the aim of advancing Internet governance development in the APAC region. What many people don't know is that the APrIGF is convened from the bottom-up by – you guessed it – multistakeholders.

Following the global IGF's lead, members of the Internet community in the APAC region felt the need for a platform in the region for Internet-related discussions. In 2010, an open process began that resulted in the creation of a regional IGF, and the APrIGF has convened every year since.

A self-organizing group called the Multistakeholder Steering Group (MSG) "governs" the APrIGF. Membership is open to anyone from the region, and includes representatives from different stakeholder groups. Everything at the APrIGF is done on a volunteer basis, and in the MSG no one person or organization dominates the discussions.

In the beginning, the MSG came together and by consensus settled on a few "rules," including how it is structured: the operating principles and election procedures that govern how it chooses its leadership. The MSG meets periodically (on conference calls mostly) to plan and organize each year's APrIGF. It agrees to more rules as required, such as the process for organizations to bid to host an APrIGF; or the formation of a program committee to determine how to evaluate workshop proposals that will shape the agenda of the year's APrIGF.

So the APrIGF is a group of interested stakeholders coming together to work on issues or to solve problems related to the Internet from the bottom-up. That, in my view, is the multistakeholder approach.

The size of the MSG has grown over the years, and so has the participation and depth of conversation at the APrIGF. The most recent APrIGF meeting held in Bangkok saw over 500 attendees from 45 economies in the region.

ICANN: Another Model of Multistakeholder Internet Governance

ICANN is another example of a platform where an open collection of global stakeholders from different groups – including academia, business, technical experts, civil society, governments, and end users – convene based on an open, bottom-up process. As I highlighted in Part 1 of this blog, in ICANN, the discussions focus largely on Internet domain names.

How does the multistakeholder approach in ICANN work?

  • Any interested stakeholder can participate.
  • Stakeholders can represent themselves, their organizations, their governments, or other stakeholder groups.
  • Stakeholders are publicly accountable.
  • Participants have agreed on operating procedures, and to participate effectively, it helps to understand them.
  • Participants are the ones who raise issues or problems. They work from the bottom-up to develop the necessary processes to take issues forward.
  • Much of the work takes place through conference calls, which help to broaden participation. In addition, ICANN hosts three Public Meetings per year, held in different regions of the world. At these meetings, stakeholders meet face-to-face. Our next ICANN Public Meeting will be held in San Juan, Puerto Rico, from 10–15 March 2018.

I hope that this blog has helped you better understand the governance and participation model of ICANN. Your involvement is key; if we are not involved, our region's voices will not be heard.

Come join us and help shape the future of the Domain Name System. Our focus at the APAC regional office is to facilitate your participation. If you are interested but don't know how to start, email us at apachub@icann.org.

Comments

    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""icann.org"" is not an IDN."