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Multistakeholder Innovation

The ICANN Strategy Panel on Multistakeholder Innovation, supported by The Governance Lab @ NYU (GovLab), has been working over the course of the past several months to develop recommendations for how ICANN can evolve the ways it engages and collaborates with global stakeholders in coordinating the Internet’s unique identifier systems. Specifically, we were tasked by Fadi with:

  1. Proposing new models for broad, inclusive engagement, consensus-based policymaking and institutional structures to support such enhanced functions; and
  2. Designing processes, tools and platforms that enable a global ICANN community to engage in these new forms of participatory decision-making.

To undertake answering this important charter, the Panel and GovLab launched a 3-stage brainstorm initiative in November at ICANN 48 in Buenos Aires. This initiative began with Stage 1: Idea Generation, which consisted of an open call for ideas for how to innovate the way ICANN practices multistakeholderism and collaborates across borders. This took place via an online engagement platform.

Starting in the new year, the Panel and GovLab proceeded into Stage 2: Proposal Development, which has involved reviewing and organizing the innovative ideas shared to inform an initial set of 16 proposal ideas for ICANN. These proposals have been informed by the dialogue and ideas shared via the engagement platform, interviews with ICANN staff and community members, observation of ICANN’s day-to-day work (in particular of the Policy Development Support Team), participation in ICANN 48, expert consultations and further independent research.

These proposal ideas are captured in an initial draft blueprint meant to provide a framework for moving ICANN toward a truly effective, legitimate and evolving 21st century organization. Each of the blueprint’s 16 proposals will be further fleshed out into individual proposal drafts, which the Panel will share online, asking experts, community members and the global public to comment, react and provide feedback via line-by-line annotation and commenting features. Each proposal draft will include some open questions that with your help will enable the Panel to further marry these innovative approaches to ICANN’s current practices. This stage is designed to help take ideas closer to implementation. The final stage of the Panel’s work will feature Collaborative Drafting, wherein the Panel will release a full report draft via a wiki and ask the community and public for help to fine-tune.

The Panel and GovLab welcome your continued input on the preliminary set of conclusions it has reached. We encourage all to visit the GovLab Blog and ICANN project page to learn more about how you can provide feedback, comments and reactions to help the Panel move these initial conclusions even closer to implementation.  You can also reach the panel anytime by email at


    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."