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The Chairman’s Blog: Reconsideration Requests, the Board Governance Committee and the Empowered Community

In February this year, the Board passed a resolution to move reconsideration requests out of the Board Governance Committee (BGC) and create a separate Board committee specifically devoted to oversight of ICANN’s accountability mechanisms, including the reconsideration responsibilities. The BGC’s reconsideration responsibilities are specified in ICANN’s fundamental bylaws, so this change requires affirmative approval by the Empowered Community. This recommendation is out for public comment now, and will be closing 10 May 2017. I want to make sure that everyone knows about this from the beginning, because it’s the first time the Empowered Community power may be used.

One of the BGC’s primary role is the administration of the Board’s internal structure. Each year, it polls Board members on their preferences for committee memberships and their interests in the positions of Board chair and vice-chair, and then offers potential slates to the Board for their consideration. The BGC is also responsible for helping the Board implement its Conflicts of Interest Policy, which has included the use of Conflicts and Ethics subcommittees to help Board members evaluate how potential or perceived conflicts of interest might impact decisions. In its role of enhancing Board effectiveness, the BGC has overseen the development of training opportunities for Board members. In addition to these, and other governance-related activities, the BGC has also handled appeals when someone challenges one of the Board’s or ICANN Org’s decisions. This appeals process is known as “reconsideration.”

Over the past several years, the number of reconsideration requests has grown. Moreover, during the Enhancing ICANN Accountability work, the ICANN community proposed enhancements to the Reconsideration Process, including expanding the times when reconsideration can be sought and placing more direct responsibility on the BGC for substantive work in resolving requests within a shorter time frame.

The Board fully supports improvements in the reconsideration process and has focused on how best to continue to implement the recommendations of the Cross Community Working Group (CCWG) on Accountability. In anticipation of increased future workloads, as well as a need to have a group that is focused on the appeals process, the Board recommends moving the reconsideration process into a committee responsible for the oversight of ICANN’s accountability mechanisms. You can read about the resolution and our rationale for putting it forward in a blog that BGC Committee Chair Chris Disspain and I posted in February.

After the public comment period, the Board will review the proposed Fundamental Bylaws amendments, and, if approved, the Empowered Community will then have an opportunity to consider whether it supports the amendments. It will be up to the Empowered Community to choose how to approach this task. One possibility includes hosting a Community Forum on the amendments to the Fundamental Bylaws during ICANN59 in Johannesburg, South Africa, in June 2017.

Information on the Empowered Community can be found in Article 6 of ICANN’s bylaws, and information on the Fundamental Bylaws Approval Process can be found in Annex D, Article 1.

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    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."